Spotlight on...Connie Fox-Samson
June 20, 2013
Connie Fox-Samson serves as the director, Army Contracting Command's Equal Employment Opportunity, where she will serve as the commanding general's special advisor on all EEO matters and to ensure that the command maintains a workplace environment where individuals are valued and supportive of each other's unique talents and abilities.
Describe your current position
As the new Equal Employment Opportunity director, I am honored to be a special advisor to the commander. My staff and I actively manage the EEO program for all civilians assigned to ACC, the Expeditionary Contracting Command and the Mission and Installation Contracting Command. We coordinate with the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army and the Army Materiel Command to ensure we sustain a model EEO program.
EEO is one of several important programs to ACC. It is based on statute, includes merit system principles, and ensures that people are valued for their knowledge and skills. We need to all work to make sure that the workplace is supportive of each other's unique talents and abilities.
Describe your professional/educational background
I was born and raised in East Tennessee. I attended East Tennessee State University where I majored in English education. After graduating, I left the area for my first federal job as a teacher on a Navajo-Hopi Native American reservation, located about ten miles east of the Grand Canyon. It was an enriching cultural experience and still has a profound impact on how I view diversity.
Fast forward 10 years… after graduating with a master's degree in business and from law school with honors, I practiced law for the federal government in Virginia, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and in Germany. The breadth of practicing employment law during those years was tremendous and included defending the agency before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in several employment law cases.
When my second daughter was born, I took a little (10-year) break and taught employment law to undergraduate and graduate students in Germany and New York.
As a military spouse, I found it extremely important to balance my career with the needs of my family. After my husband's military retirement and three years in his hometown in upstate New York, I was hired by the Army Medical Command in Aberdeen, Md., to educate the occupational health and preventive medicine physicians on the employment laws that impacted their federal medical practices.
I was a frequent lecturer at the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences, recognized as a subject matter expert on employment law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Rehabilitation Act and reasonable accommodation, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act). I have been assigned to ACC for more than five years, leading workforce development programs at ACC-Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and at headquarters ACC G-1.
Where do you call home? Tell us about your family.
My family is my lifeline and my daughters are my joy. Our oldest daughter is a third-year medical student at Vanderbilt University Medical School. She attended Vanderbilt as a biomedical engineering undergraduate on a full merit scholarship and was admitted to Vanderbilt Medical School early decision. She is interested in specializing in surgery. Our youngest was admitted early decision to the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, the number one undergraduate business school in the world. She begins in the fall and is interested in majoring in finance. Both are not only highly intelligent, but very thoughtful and caring individuals. I am, needless to say, extremely proud of them.
What do you hope to contribute to the command?
I hope to contribute my legal education and employment law experience to maintain a workplace where we can all focus on the reason we are here -- to meet our mission of providing responsive, innovative and efficient procurement solutions to enable the Army's global war fighting dominance. Our civilian workforce is critical to supporting the war fighter. The acquisition/nonacquisition split is about 80/20 but their joint efforts are undeniable. The civilians in this command foster a culture of performance excellence and accountability to enhance efficiencies and effectiveness. They are about to sacrifice salaries and benefits during furlough; yet, they hang in there because of their dedication to our Soldiers. They are an amazing group of diverse, yet cohesive individuals.
Is there anything you would like to share with the command?
We in the ACC are a highly educated, well-informed workforce compared to many other Army agencies. The complaint data supports the fact that we simply do not have the negative workplace issues that you see elsewhere. I think it is due, in part, to our open command climate and the message of treating others the same, with dignity and respect, reiterated during the recent SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention) training. We do that very well in the ACC.
One of the issues I would like to tackle is an ACC-wide issue that is of interest to the EEOC and the Army: increasing Hispanic participation rates and participation of individuals with targeted disabilities in our workforce to mirror the National Civilian Labor Force participation rates. (There are nine disabilities that are designated as targeted disabilities.) The Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund, also known as Section 852, funds recruitment efforts to close the capability gap in shortage acquisition career fields at every level -- intern, journeymen and highly qualified experts. This funding also provides salary dollars for the command, a tremendous plus for our employees during this time when our budget outlook is bleak.