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With a global pandemic, nationwide civil and social unrest, and uncertainty in many other aspects of daily life, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years in recent memory. In response, Marshall Space Flight Center’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity and the Office of Human Resource have joined forces to bring unity, support and understanding to the Marshall family.

In addition to ongoing Unity efforts, including special emphasis programs and leadership-led mentoring events, two centerwide virtual Unity dialogues were hosted this summer to promote conversations among team members about the current climate of civil and social unrest. These events provided a safe space for participants to share personal experiences through open dialogue. Featuring opening remarks from center leadership and participation from a collection of notable figures from around the center, these “Let’s Talk” events have drawn significant interest from the Marshall workforce and have served as a conduit for increased empathy, awareness and teamwork.

“Our Unity events have been welcomed and appreciated,” Marshall Deputy Director Paul McConnaughey said. “Our community is strongest when we’re together. We’ll continue to do what’s necessary to facilitate that unity. We have one of the best teams in the world here at Marshall, and it’s imperative that every member knows they are valued.”

In addition to centerwide events, smaller virtual Unity forums are happening within many center organizations. These supervisor-led events have offered an intimate look into the experiences of immediate co-workers and have provided a more familiar and open forum for team members to express their thoughts and feelings on a variety of topics. To help employees manage and navigate these discussions and the current climate in general, the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity and the Office of Human Resources have created an online resource, which compiles a list of links and tools that can assist with learning and discussing racism and inequality.

“We all have a role in understanding the current environment and how it impacts each of us in the organization,” Digna Carballosa, acting director of Marshall’s Office of Human Resources, said. “Every employee has the ability and the responsibility to improve our community by making sure team members feel welcomed, respected, connected and engaged.”

To help with that involvement and inclusion, Marshall’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity has instituted the BRIDGE Champions initiative. Led by Deputy Director McConnaughey, BRIDGE – the Blueprint to Reinforce Inclusivity and Diversity to Gain Equity – was created to distribute information on equal opportunity, equity, diversity, and inclusiveness to the entire center, using a network of select Marshall senior-level employees. Marshall’s BRIDGE Champions are asked to participate and share information on equal employment opportunity challenges, strategies, and actions to help promote a diverse and supportive working environment.

“Whether through our Unity forums, both at the center and organizational level, meeting with the center’s Special Emphasis Program Advisory Working Groups, or the BRIDGE Champions, we want everyone at the center to know Marshall Space Flight Center takes the workforce’s issues and feelings seriously,” Loucious Hires, director of the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, said. “Every action, every day.”

Editor’s note: Adam Farragut, an ASRC Federal/Analytical Services employee, supports Marshall’s Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications.

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