How to Follow Your Dreams and Advance in Your Career

Young Government Leaders (YGL) and GovLoop present the NextGen Public Service Awards for superior public service and achievement. The 5th Annual NextGen Public Service Awards will be given at the 2015 NextGen Award’s Ceremony, which will kick of the NextGen Training Summit on July 20th and 21st in Washington, DC. This year we have 30 finalists – the NextGen 30. Over the next month we will introduce you to our finalists through this blog series.


Meet the finalist:

Who: Ebony Johnson, Policy Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer, US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Achievement: NextGen Public Service Finalist, Innovators Category

“Ebony sustained excellence in performance; demonstrates HUD’s core values of accountability, efficiency and effectiveness, fairness and respect, integrity and teamwork; displayed exceptional communication skills and the ability to inspire others; and is regarded as a ‘visionary’ and a leader by peers, management and customers within the organization.” – April D. Dobson, Social Security Administration. Dobson nominated Johnson for the NextGen Innovator Award.

Dobson’s comments are easily validated through Johnson’s obvious dedication to enhancing engagement with HUD’s clients. Johnson is a proactive member of HUD’s Under 5 group, formed by several employees devoted to improving the experience for new workers while helping members become effective leaders.

In addition to working with Under 5, Johnson actively participates in the Veteran’s Affinity group and serves as the Vice President of the Widening Opportunities for Women (W.O.W) Chapter of Federally Employed Women. This commitment to take on many roles has forced the multi-tasker to perfect the art of balance and prioritization.

Johnson’s number one priority is ensuring the Office of the CIO (OCIO) is compliant with all government policy. However, the advocator for women has found time to pursue her passions through her non-profit, Next Chapter Corporation, which advocates for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Johnson is goal-oriented. She believes that if people pursue what they love, even if it is outside their daily job, ultimately their passion will shine through in their work.

Dobson reiterated, “Ebony serves as a role model for others and is a “change agent” that demonstrates leadership in the accomplishment and delivery of results. Ebony is an innovative, strategic and critical thinker that consistently contributes towards transformation efforts.”

At work, Johnson exudes leadership through her efforts to improve office morale during regular 10-minute sessions that bring together project stakeholders. Each person has two minutes to give Johnson (the “Scrum Master”) the breakdown of their plans for the upcoming week as well as explain any barriers faced while attempting to accomplish the previous week’s goals.

These meetings are critical for team building. Stakeholders must be familiar with each other to overcome unforeseen challenges while implementing Assessment Strategies and Performance (ASaP) initiatives within the OCIO. Johnson was even selected by the Chief Information Officer to speak at the OCIO All Hands meeting to highlight her involvement with the ASaP initiative.

Within OCIO, Johnson is currently a part of a working group called the Education Navigators or “Project SOAR”. Their role is to “help the youth navigate from the cradle into careers.” The path to affordable housing originates from career opportunities. Without financial sustainability, there is no affordable housing. Johnson is dedicated to helping people. Johnson said, “that’s why my job is so important, because, we’re boots in the ground… we’re part of essentially every person’s life.”

“Ebony has established a standard of excellence for others to follow,” gushed Dobson. Through Johnson’s non-profit, members partook in 146 hours of victim advocate training for both sexual assault and domestic violence. Next Chapter partners with other organizations to provide necessary resources for victims. In the past, victims have received items such as beds, metro fare, or even legal help. On the veteran side, the organization provides career readiness through resume writing, job hunting, and interview skill building.

Simply put, Johnson says, “I’m in public service because I desire to change lives”. What else can we ask for?

We will be talking to all the NextGen Public Service Award finalists in the upcoming weeks. See the full list here. Finally, register to attend the Awards Ceremony to get to know the NextGen 30 in-person!

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