Federal retirements are a regular “thing” as year after year hundreds of public servants finish their 20 or 30 years of service and head out to do something else. Or not.
In about 30 days the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is set to lose such a public servant. After more than 30 years, Kevin Boshears, the director for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business at DHS, will pack up his office and, according to him, “not do anything in federal contracting.”
Anyone who has worked with him knows he deserves it. From his folksy tales of his father and family owning a small business and teaching him the challenges and values of it, Mr. Boshears has been a staunch, intelligent, and creative advocate on behalf of the small businesses that serve the department. Throughout his career, he has set the example for others in government and won numerous recognition awards from industry and his peers in government.
On May 23, the Government Technology & Services Coalition bestowed him with a lifetime achievement award for his service to the small-business community.
Why is Kevin so special?
I will certainly say more in a moment, but it was really made clear as people from our community stepped up to recount their personal experiences with Kevin:
“Kept his word”
I could go on. In the words of Kathy Pherson, CEO of Pherson Associates, “Kevin Boshears sets the standard for what a government small-business advocate should be. Not only is he knowledgeable and well-connected, he is unfailingly responsive.” Alba Aleman, CEO of Citizant, said of Kevin, “He always approached things ‘palm up’ – giving and receiving in the spirit of service.”
“Kevin’s key to success is not his intellect, though that is keen; nor his leadership, though that is strong,” said former Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke. “It is his passion for the small-business community and ensuring the critical DHS missions are performed with the right industry partnerships.”
And those are just a few of the tributes.
You may be saying to yourself, yeah yeah, Kevin’s a great guy. So what? SO — he is the epitome of the good one person can do for so many even in a world like federal contracting. As we thought about an appropriate send-off, the concept of ALOHA emerged. For those who have been to Hawaii, you know that the word ALOHA means hello and goodbye. And for those in the islands, its meaning is much deeper and more profound than that.
According to the old kahunas (priests), being able to live the Spirit of Aloha was a way of reaching self-perfection and realization for our own body and soul. Aloha is sending and receiving a positive energy. Aloha is living in harmony. When you live the Spirit of Aloha, you create positive feelings and thoughts, which are never gone. They exist in space, multiply and spread over to others.
Kevin’s dedication and service brought this spirit of ALOHA to each of us and to our community through his:
A, ala, watchful, alertness
Kevin was always on the alert to challenges and threats to the small business community. He was able to see and analyze legislative initiatives, as well as “studies” for their impacts to the ecosystem of our security and take the time and initiative to ring the alarm bells when anything endangered the small-business community.
L, lokahi, working with unity
Kevin always answered an email. He always said yes to speak to the community. He always treated everyone with respect. Even when he did not always have the desired solution, he worked with everyone to blaze the path and work toward one.
O, oia’i’o, truthful honesty
Kevin didn’t schmooze anyone. While his delivery was always soft and humble, he spoke the truth – good or bad – and shared his opinions, thoughts, and beliefs with calm certitude.
H, ha’aha’a, humility
Kevin was always humble – not self-deprecating – but humble and kind. He approached problems and threats from a position of love and drew people in to solve problems. He did not alienate or make things worse from his ego or his needs; he served his community and thought through the best solutions and paths.
A, ahonui, patient perseverance
More than 33 years serving the small-business community. Working with the most experienced to the most inexperienced in our community, Kevin persevered through the constant demands on him from industry AND navigated the many changes serving the nation’s mission of securing the homeland for nearly all of DHS’ existence. He developed one of the best programs across government for our small-business community and achieved for DHS “A” ratings on the Small Business Administration’s small-business scorecard.
He tackled every challenge with the spirit of ALOHA to be an exemplary model for anyone who seeks a career in public service. We will miss Kevin Boshears immensely and wish him all the best for his new endeavors.