Members of the Intelligence Community (IC) celebrated IC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Day on May 22 by hosting an event at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) that sought to discuss DEIA principles and honor the IC individuals and teams advancing them.
During a morning keynote, Stephanie La Rue, IC DEIA Chief, acknowledged the significant progress the IC has recently made in diversity hiring.
“Analysis of FY22 demographic data demonstrates that for the first time ever, the share of minorities, women, and persons with disabilities hired exceeds their respective overall IC composition,” said La Rue. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines later joined La Rue to honor the individuals and teams leading DEIA initiatives across the IC. Employees from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) accepted awards.
“You have contributed greatly to further our collective DEIA cause, dedicating long hours—often outside your day-to-day position duties—to create an environment where our colleagues and friends can bring their whole selves to work and contribute regardless of ethnicity, color, race, age, sex, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability,” said Haines.
About the Awardees
NGA’s Jennifer King received the prestigious Intelligence Community (IC) Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Individual Achievement Award, while the NGA Neurodiversity Working Group she co-founded received an EEO and Diversity Professional Team Award.
Among her accolades, King co-founded the working group to influence NGA’s processes, policies and culture to promote the inclusion of neurodivergent individuals. Neurodiversity acknowledges that there are infinite variations in human neurological structure and function and that people experience and interact with the world in different ways.
NGA’s Neurodiversity Working Group led the first intelligence agency pilot to hire neurodivergent employees. It led to the hiring of three neuro-diverse employees and feedback about what neurodivergent employees face when applying to and joining NGA. The group captured lessons learned and provided recommendations in a published paper, “Strategic Approach for Increasing Neurodiversity Inclusion.”
“People with neurodivergent conditions excel in areas important to the IC, such as analyzing big data, pattern recognition, creativity, and out-of-the-box problem solving,” said King. “To reach our goals, we need to leverage the previously untapped ability of neurodivergent individuals.”
NSA’s Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) Officer Team also was awarded the Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Team award. Among their accomplishments, they published an unclassified Coming Out Stories booklet that features the personal coming out stories from members of the ERG.
“The booklet shows current and future employees that there is a thriving LGBTQIA+ community at NSA, and that their contributions are a valuable part of our efforts to secure the nation,” said Heidi Fosnaught, former co-chair of the team.
In addition to their existing training sessions, they began hosting Privilege Decrypted, which educates NSA employees about bias, privilege and alternate perspectives. The group also helped implement NSA’s gender policy 1-78, a first policy of its kind in the IC designed to overcome discrimination and eliminate barriers.
FBI’s Beacon Project—winner of ODNI National Intelligence Professional Award for Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity—enhanced the agency’s relationship with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and provided students with a path to FBI employment. The national community engagement initiative was started to diversify the FBI workforce.
“It’s a beacon of hope that we don’t just recruit individuals in, but we develop a much more inclusive environment that develops the individuals,” said project member Jermicha Fomby, who called his team’s work courageous, bold, and innovative.
Read more at ODNI