First let me say that I am humbled to be selected as the next President of The Organization.
The Organization was founded at a time when Blacks in NRCS had limited access to top management positions; little, if any participation in professional organizations, and no organized system of networking. Many Blacks and others became interested in providing a means for supporting an organization that gave employees access to top management, training in the current and new technology, developing their speaking and presentation skills, and pride in professionalism.
I ask ‘why do we need an organization like this?’ I say we need it probably just as much today as then. Yes we have gained some things but in the same ways we have lost some things.
As President, here are some of the items I want to address in no particular order.
- It is imperative that we look at the leadership of NRCS. One of my first duties will be to meet with our new acting Chief and talk about Blacks in leadership, recruitment and retention and how he would like to partner with The Organization.
- We need to make sure we keep our separate identity but figure out a way to work with the other employee organizations for a common goal.
- We need to partner with other groups like the Professional Agricultural Workers Conference (PAWC), Federation of Southern Cooperatives (FSC), National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), and Winston County Self-Help Cooperative (WCSHC). These and other organizations support our minority farmers.
- We need to work closely with our retirees and engage them back, because some of our retired folks are looking for ways to help.
We need to reenergize our current membership. We lost a lot of steam when we cancelled our meeting two years ago. We almost lost our identity and we definitely lost members. But look at us now-- this December we held our first successful Expo on our own time and dollar with more than 100 folks in attendance.
- Building our membership is also a priority. We have a number of new employees that don't know who we are. I want to contact all of them to explain the benefits of being a member.
I propose that in December 2013, we meet in Atlanta where we had our start, get ourselves together and plan another great conference. I must thank Kalvin Trice and Drenda WIlliams with whom I served as their Vice President. They had some challenging times but got us through. They have made the road a little bit smoother for me.
I encourage our landowners to continue to farm, educate yourselves, hold on to your land, fight for participation in these programs; I also ask that you consider being members of our organization.
I thank all of you for electing me as the 2013-2015 President and I look forward to serving you and this great National Organization of Professional Black NRCS Employees.