FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Fort Leonard Wood Equal Employment Opportunity Office hosted a Women’s Equality Day event Friday at the Garrison Training Room next to the Ozark Tavern to kick off the return of the Federal Women’s Program here.
The federally mandated program was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, to identify gender-related barriers women in the workplace face.
The FWP is one of seven Special Emphasis Programs identified in Army Regulation 690-12, Civilian Personnel Equal Opportunity and Diversity, that focus on the recruitment, training, education, retention, upward mobility, career counseling, mentoring, promotion, equity in pay, and any other barriers that may be affecting a particular EEO group.
“This program allows women to come together and meet with wonderful leaders, colleagues and coworkers to discuss their career goals and any barriers they may face,” EEO Special Emphasis Programs Manager Channa Ringo said. “The working women on this installation need to know that mentoring, networking and training opportunities are available to them.”
Participants at Friday’s event had the opportunity to talk with representatives from Fort Leonard Wood organizations, including the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the Army Wellness Center about resources here.
Guest speaker, Dr. Lisa Brown, technical director for the U.S. Army Engineer School, emphasized the importance of the program and said she will aim to be the mentor she needed when she started as a civilian here 20 years ago.
“I was often the only woman in the room; day-to-day, there wouldn’t be a woman to my left or right — or above me — who I could look to for guidance, help or assistance,” she said. “I think mentorship is a big part of success, and I’ll be here for those who need what I needed back then.”
Yojana Gonzalez, 43rd Adjutant General Battalion command secretary, said she attended the event to learn about networking and mentorship opportunities. Thanks to statistics shared during the presentation, she said she left with a greater understanding of what women face professionally every day.
“The statistics were eye-opening — I didn’t know some of them — so it put into perspective why we need to have this program,” she said. “I came here with the intent to observe and learn, and there are people out there who are working toward positive change. We should all strive to be better because there’s always room for that.”
Gonzalez said she is looking forward to the first official Federal Women’s Program meeting, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 15 in the Garrison Training Room. Participation is open to anyone on the installation, service members and contractors included.
“All are welcome,” Ringo said. “Anyone who feels like they want to make a difference for the women on the installation, they are welcome to attend.”
The same goes for any of the SEPs, said EEO Manager Gary Woodruff.
“Everybody’s point of view is valuable, and we want to honor that and their contributions,” he said.
In addition to the FWP, there are six other SEPs active here, including:
- the Black/African American Employment Program;
- the American Indian and Alaska Native Employment Program;
- the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Employment Program;
- the Hispanic Employment Program;
- the Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program; and
- the Individuals with Disabilities Program.
The next event — aimed at providing information to individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans of the installation — is planned for October.
Anyone interested in participating in the FWP, or any SEP here, is encouraged to call the EEO office at 573.563.0602.