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By Donna Cipolloni

Tester staff writer

Organized in 1968, Federally Employed Women (FEW) is a national nonprofit organization that works to end discrimination and promote the advancement of women employed in the federal government.

FEW is organized into 10 regions throughout the U.S., with approximately 115 chapters providing meetings, training workshops, special projects and programs that meet the needs of their chapter members.

Falling under the umbrella of the D.C. Metro Region, FEW Chapter 307 is located at NAS Patuxent River.

“I first came to Pax in 1997, and within a year, my boss suggested I become a member of FEW,” said NAWCAD’s Jeannie Facemire, NMCI lead for Pax River and current chapter president. “I wanted to check it out and went to a national training program where they offered computer classes, information on how to write a résumé, deal with management, communicate better, advance in the workplace, and prepare for retirement. I realized it had the potential to help me in my career.”

FEW focuses on four major areas: training, compliance, diversity and legislative. It seeks to increase its members’ knowledge of federal rules and regulations; ensures agencies comply with statutes, executive orders and regulations that provide equal opportunity; works to eliminate barriers in the workplace; and keeps members abreast of federal, state and local legislation affecting federal employees, especially women.

On Aug. 26, the group hosted its 14th Annual Women’s Equality Day Luncheon, celebrating the 94th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, earning women the right to vote.

Nearly 100 people attended the luncheon, and the theme was: Women of Character, Courage and Commitment. The program recognized women in history who struggled, sacrificed and persevered in their own lives to affect breakthrough change that would benefit generations of women to follow.

Keynote speaker was Barbara Ives, a retired Navy captain with 27 years of service, and the current academic dean at St. Mary’s Ryken High School. Ives graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980 as a member of the first class of women to attend the previously all-male institution.

“Ms. Ives was selected as our keynote speaker because she herself is representative of this year’s theme,” explained Valisa Harris, command customer service liaison with Command Strategies, Force Planning and Analysis Department (AIR 7.11) and the Pax chapter’s public affairs officer. “She has been a pioneer throughout her career, leading as the ‘first’ and reaching back to assist others.”

The FEW Pax River chapter holds quarterly meetings, training sessions and special events throughout the year, including outreach activities such as helping in soup kitchens, walking for domestic violence, collecting coats or donating toiletries and sweat suits to the local women’s shelter and veterans home.

“My philosophy as president is ‘Big I’,” Facemire said. “‘Be Inspired. Get Involved.’ As an organization, we try to not only improve our members’ opportunities, but to also reach out and make a difference in the world.”

FEW membership, at $45 per year, is open to federal civilian and military personnel as well as government contractors concerned with the quality of life in the federal service. Men are welcome, too.

“While the organization is primarily focused on women, many of the issues we raise also apply to men in federal service,” Facemire noted.

For more information on FEW, or to become a member, visit www.few.org; contact Facemire at jeannie.facemire@navy.mil; or phone Margelyn Massey, membership chair, at 301-757-6451.