Have courage, former NGA director Letitia A. Long advised during a women in public service panel discussion March 10 in the Allder Auditorium.
“Take risks,” Long told employees. “Go for a job you’re not absolutely ready for. If it’s a job you’re 100 percent ready for, then you probably aren’t challenging yourself.”
The panel discussion brought together women from across NGA and focused on the challenges facing women in the workplace. Long served as the keynote speaker at the eight-person panel, held in honor of Women’s History Month.
“Have the courage to take your rightful seat at the table,” Long said. “Don’t take yourself out of the running. Have the courage to ask, ‘Why not me?’
“If you believe in yourself, put yourself out there. Others will believe in you, too.”
In addition to Long, seven other panel members discussed their career stories and offered career advice: Deputy Director Sue Gordon; Misty Tullar, director of plans and programs; Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Rachel Ziegler, senior enlisted advisor; Ellen Ardrey, director of the Human Development directorate; Allison Hall, director of Security and Installations directorate; Nicole R. Pierce, director of the Office of Contract Services; Cynthia R. Ryan, director of the Office of the General Counsel.
Among other topics, the women discussed the importance of mentors and told stories of people who were integral in their career ascent.
Long talked about a high-school guidance counselor who pushed her to consider a career as an engineer. Pierce discussed a former supervisor who took an interest in her development, despite the fact that she was an underperforming employee.
Gordon discussed women in the history of geospatial intelligence that paved the way for the women workforce of today: Marie Tharp, Constance Babington Smith, Nancy Bone and Bobbi Lenczowski. She echoed Lenczowski’s challenge to women to “continue to pay it forward as mentors and advocates” for each other.
The panel, titled “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government,” was hosted by the Security and Installations Employee Council with the support and collaboration of the NGA Federal Women's Program Council.
“We will be successful when there are no more firsts,” Long said. “When it’s natural to look around and see talent – not gender, not race, not ethnicity.”