Committee adds equity in the workplace and offers career advancement opportunities

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The reunion brought together current and former members from all across King County.

The Employee-Based Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) Committee recently held a reunion to celebrate their work and connect with current and former members. On Wednesday, October 19, 2016 the group met in the Chinook Building and held an informal networking event and potluck where departments from all across the County were represented.

Current members were introduced, with committee Chair Ceci (Cynthia) Chiu (Department of Public Defense) kicking off the event. She was joined by Vice-Chair Velma Valdez (Department of Transportation), Secretary Lorrie Alfonsi (Department of Transportation), At-Large officer Breen Lorenz (Department of Executive Services) and John Miller, the outgoing chair.

Before introducing the guest speaker, Ceci asked for those who were alumni of the committee and all former officers to raise their hands, with about half speaking up to mention their name and role. She explained how important it is to have members from all different departments who can bring their perspective to the committee and then introduced guest speaker Danotra McBride, Chief of Operations for Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD) and former committee member.

Speaking about the committee and its importance in her career, Danotra said “My time on the committee was wonderful. It’s easy to get stuck in silos, but this was an opportunity to meet other people and network.”

“It propelled the confidence in me to do other things,” she said. “It boosted everything – my confidence, my abilities, all of it.”

Guest speaker Danotra McBride, Chief of Operations for Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD) and former committee member.

Guest speaker Danotra McBride, Chief of Operations for Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD) and former committee member.

Previously, Danotra worked for Public Health, Jail Health Services where she began her career in the Medical Records division. She credits her time on the committee as helping her realize her calling and helping her find a place where she can succeed in her work.

“I am grateful I could serve as the vice chair,” she said. “The committee helped me realize I care about people and working with people.”

Danotra explained her movement forward within DAJD and fielded questions from the audience about her current work, as well as the challenges employees can face in accessing training and career development.

“We have been asking ourselves at DAJD ‘How do we make more robust online training or bring training to our staff?’ because people really do want these learning opportunities,” she said.

Afterwards, current EEO/AA Committee manager Paula Harris-White spoke briefly about how the committee is a place where members can grow in their knowledge and skills, but also take these abilities on with them to their next workplace challenge.

“We’ve had people move from the committee into leadership and management positions, like Danotra, who bring their EEO/AA ‘hat’ with them to continue that work,” said Paula. “The committee and the time people spend working on these initiatives is a stepping stone and mentoring opportunity.”

To wrap up the reunion, Lorrie Alfonsi led the group in EEO/AA Jeopardy, asking questions about the committee and the King County Equity and Social Justice initiative, while the group mingled and finished off the potluck food.

Additional EEO/AA committee members who attended the reunion celebration included Gaukhar Serikbayeva, from the Department of Public Health, Nathan Kinker, from the Department of Executive Services and Dean Olson, Elena Edwards, Gail Tanaka and Jose Reyna, all from the Department of Transportation.

For more information about the committee or its policies review the King County 2014 – 2016 EEO/AA Plan or contact Paula Harris-White, Workforce Equity Manager, at Paula.Harris-White@kingcounty.gov.