Edna Cooper, management assistant to the Engineering Data Branch chief and an alternative dispute resolution mediator, has another opportunity before her to expand her skills as she walks into the role of Federal Women's Program manager at Hill Air Force Base.
Denise Elbert, outgoing manager, described her own experience this way, "Being the program manager is an opportunity for professional growth while serving the women of Team Hill and the neighboring community."
Elbert and Cooper were both present at a reception for the Women's Federal Program at Club Hill held July 8. Elbert said she will have the opportunity to serve in some regional opportunities in the Federal Women's Program. Both women were excited as they looked to the future of the program.
Cooper described the training she received as a mediator and said it has given her the opportunity to look at things from many points of view. Some of those skills have spread into other areas of her work life and even, she said, to her relationships with her family.
"I've taught my children a lot of negotiation skills, on accident," she said, smiling. The skills she learned through her position as a mediator, her children then modeled. "They're very good negotiators now," she said.
Starting out in the maintenance side of the base as the only woman in her area, then moving into the GS side of things, Cooper looks forward to learning from those already involved in the federal women's program and especially in getting others more involved.
"I want to be able to reach out and offer a resource to our community and help others navigate their way through their federal careers," she said.
Cooper wants to make sure those in other areas of the base know that they are welcome to participate. "When I was in Maintenance, I didn't know that there was a Federal Women's Program -- I had no idea such a thing existed, and so that's one of the things I want to be able to do is to really reach out to those folks," she said.
She said the resources and learning opportunities available to those working in federal careers are exciting and she recommends them to others. Cooper has found mentoring to be a big help as she has made her way through her own federal career. "When somebody can take your hand, show you the ropes, show you what to do and what not to do -- it opens up so many more doors," she said.
She agrees sharing knowledge is itself empowering for both the ones learning and the mentors themselves. "There have been a few people who have come to me who have wanted to move on to other areas and lacked knowledge that they could put down in their resume," she said. "I love to share what I know." She said she found herself helping others with such things as what needed to be on a resume for a particular position and helping others learn such basic things as timekeeping.
Cooper hopes to add a class a month to enhance skills, such as resume writing, interviewing skills, self-esteem or other areas of interest, in addition to the once a month meetings. "Anyone is welcome," she said. "No one is turned away whether they are active duty, civilian or contractor -- as long as we learn from each other."
As a federal employee since 2002, and a contractor for two years before that, Cooper has a myriad of experiences to pull from as she approaches this auxiliary position and hopes to see others willing to share their own knowledge and experiences to enrich others in their careers and knowledge.
For more information about the program contact her via e-mail at email@example.com.