02/06/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/06/2023 13:38
Every February, the annual celebration of Black history leads me to deep reflection. We celebrate and recognize the resiliency, triumphs and phenomenal accomplishments of my fellow African Americans. For me, our history is always in the making.
Despite the great gains African Americans in this country have made over the past two centuries, many challenges remain. However, we really have achieved so much in our goal of equality for all. I am here to tell you as your first-but not last-Black Chief, we are moving forward. We continue down this road by no longer asking if disparities exist, but where and why they happen and what we can do to ensure equitable access and delivery of the Forest Service mission.
Here in the Forest Service, we put this into action when we launched our Equity Action Plan last year. Last week, agency leaders met in D.C. to discuss our recruiting and hiring, which includes hiring employees who reflect the communities we serve. We are looking at hiring mechanisms to widen our outreach and recruitment agency-wide. We are on a trajectory to hire 2,500 entry-level employees in 2023. By learning, networking and working collectively, we can identify milestones to ensure we are meeting the promises we have made to employ a diverse, equitable, accessible and inclusive workforce that helps us achieve our short- and long-term needs.
This Black History Month and beyond, I challenge you to live up to this year's theme of Resistance. Look around the community where you live. Look around your Forest Service community. If you see something unjust, do something. Be specific. Bring it up when you see policies you think need changing in your home unit or in the agency as a whole.
I know we all want to do better, to be better. Thank you for speaking up any time you see changes that need to be made. I am also so proud of all our African American employees in this agency for the great service, accomplishments and perspectives you bring to the Forest Service-and our nation-every day.
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