Federal Spotlight: Wanda Killingsworth
Wanda Killingsworth serves as Senior Program Analyst with the IRS, and president of Federally Employed Women (FEW).
MC: How long have you been in Federal Service and what is your main responsibility in your role today?
WK: I have more than 25 years of Federal service with the Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS). My current role is as a Senior Program Analyst. In this position, I serve as a Team Lead and Subject Matter Expert responsible for providing Risk Management infrastructure to various IT projects and ensure projects receive training on the Risk Management process and tools.
MC: What keeps you motivated and passionate to stay in the public sector?
WK: What keeps me motivated is my passion to help others. My parents instilled in my siblings and me the essences of hard work and volunteerism. My dad and grandfather were very active in the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. But it was my mother that made the greatest impression on me. I am inspired by my mother’s dedication and commitment to public service. She was employed with the Cleveland Public School System and was president of two nonprofit organizations Union-Miles Development Corporation and Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP); she was the founder of ESOP where she was president for 20 years. I draw on my passion from watching my mother; being a full time employee with the school system, president of a nonprofit organization, wife, and mother. She did her part to better the neighborhood in which we lived and eventually dedicated herself to eliminating predatory lending by banks. She persuaded many bank lenders to sign agreements reducing foreclosures, improving terms, and treating African-American borrowers equally. Some national bank lenders offered to change their habits just in Cleveland, Ohio, but my mother demanded that they make these changes nationwide. She had testified before congress about the impact of predatory lending and the foreclosure crisis that was sweeping the nation. She was just an amazing woman.
I am very passionate to be an advocate for women’s rights to ensure that we as women have the same rights as men and have equal access to training and career opportunities, and have more women in senior level positions. I am also motivated by my involvement with Federally Employed Women’s (FEW) and its mission for the advancement of women in government. FEW has made a real difference in the advancement of women in Federal service through of its focus area of legislation by being both pro-active and defensive in monitoring Congressional proposals in order to assess the impact on women.
MC: What is one of your biggest achievements?
WK: One of my biggest achievements was having the opportunity to raise more than $20,000 for two schools in New Orleans, LA. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans’s lower 9th ward a group of FEW’s National Officers donated our time and talent to lend a helping hand by painting houses and cleaning up New Orleans. I thought it would be a great idea to do more as we were planning to host our National Training Program in 2010 in New Orleans, so I created the “FEW: A Helping Hand,” initiative to give 100% of all donations collected to providing such items as uniforms and school supplies to students in two schools in New Orleans. I was thrilled by the level of support and giving not only by our members but by our sponsors and partners as well. To say the least, I was overwhelmed by generosity.
Another major accomplishment was being elected to serve as FEW’s 23rd National President; one of my greatest honor that I have achieved.
MC: What advice would you share on making public service a career and not a pit stop?
WK: If it is in your heart to help people and provide a level of service to the public, you can’t go wrong with a career in public service. You have to be passionate about being a Federal or public servant and enjoy your work as well as ensuring that you balance your work life and your personal life.
Being in Federal service is a great opportunity to work for our country and the public in general. You have to be bold and fearless, willing to take risks and actions that will impact not only you but your career. You have to take advantage of the potential leadership and training opportunities during your career and remember it’s not just a pit stop it’s an investment in your future. I had the opportunities to take on senior leadership roles and had opportunities to continued leaning and taking training classes. I attended FEW National Training Program and gained a wealth of knowledge and have great networking opportunities. In addition, with the financial assistances of my agency, I was also able to earn a Masters Certificate in Project Management and a Master of Science in Computer Science Database System and Security.
I think that I made a good investment in myself and my future. I am truly amazed with the vast amount of opportunities and blessings I have gained.
MC: What advice would you share with young people on entering government?
WK: My advice to share with young people entering the Federal government is to take advantage of all of the opportunities that the government has to offer. Don’t stop learning and invest in your future by continuing your professional development. Surround yourself with people who will support you and seek out a mentor. I’ve had the privilege of having some wonderful mentors throughout my career, and it was through those pivotal moments with their guidance that I was able to have a clear line of sight to achieve my goals.
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