BREMERTON, Wash —
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility hosted a community luncheon in honor of Black History Month at Kitsap Conference Center, Feb. 19.
The shipyard’s African American Employee Resource Group and Diversity Leadership Council coordinated the event, which featured keynote speaker Valerie Scott, diversity and inclusion director from Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The event theme was cultural competence in the workplace.
“Valerie Scott is a respected diversity and inclusion professional,” said Nicole Taylor, diversity and inclusion manager at PSNS & IMF. “We are lucky to have a qualified and experienced manager, who we can also collaborate with on programs specific to naval shipyards. We are using this opportunity, not only to educate the workforce on cultural competency, but to knowledge share with Norfolk Naval Shipyard.”
The luncheon was the fifth annual celebration held by PSNS & IMF and was attended by approximately 140 people, including both shipyard employees and community partners.
“I believe to my core that diversity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility, but it is especially important for public servants and community representatives to create that environment,” said Bremerton City Mayor, Greg Wheeler.
The event program included a prayer of blessing and a chorus of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Floyd English, deputy operations manager, PSNS & IMF emceed the event and Captain Dianna Wolfson, commander of PSNS & IMF gave remarks.
“The words ‘lift every voice and sing’ were really impactful for me,” said Wolfson. “Every voice is essential to our mission, shipyard, Navy and country.”
As former colleagues at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Wolfson warmly greeted and introduced Scott for her keynote address, recognizing her 30 years of civil service.
In her keynote address, Scott opened the aperture on workplace cultures that exist in modern, professional organizations. She spoke to three cultural categories– organizational, ethnic and generational.
“I have been a champion of diversity and inclusion all my life,” said Scott. “In order to bring diversity and inclusion principles to all aspects of our professional lives, we have to learn ourselves. We have to be aware of our biases and how they come into play in the workplace and with our decision-making. We have to ask ourselves tough questions and be willing to ask tough questions of others.”
PSNS & IMF’s African American Employee Resource Group is open to all shipyard employees of any race or ethnicity. AAERG’s goals are to increase recruitment, hiring, and retention of African American employees, provide a network that supports the professional development of African American employees and increase cultural awareness and education across the shipyard.