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Vol. LXVI, No. 20
September 26, 2014
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‘Dream BIG’
Annual Training Institute Targets STEM, Personal Health

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta gives BIG keynote talk. This year’s service project involves donations to Las Vegas’s Three Square Food Bank.

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta gives BIG keynote talk.

This year’s service project involves donations to Las Vegas’s Three Square Food Bank.

This year’s Blacks In Government annual National Training Institute, “Dream BIG, Train Well & Emerge to Greater Heights,” proved to be one of the best in BIG’s 39 years of service, according to several attendees. Held in Las Vegas, more than 150 workshops focused on training offered by the Office of Personnel Management. Workshop topics included information technology, leadership management, communication skills and personal development.

Founded in 1975, BIG is a support and advocacy group whose mission is to promote, provide and enhance education opportunities for government employees. With chapters throughout the U.S., Europe and the Pacific representing more than 2.5 million federal, state and local civil servants, BIG’s yearly training institute is a professional development conference.

This year, BIG launched its youth STEM robotics program, which is designed to encourage African-American students to embrace science, technology, engineering and math concepts and professions. A competition using the theme “Entertainment or Behavior Modification: Do Violent Video Games Promote Violent Actions?” challenged students across the nation in grades 9-12 to design, build and program their own mobile robot.

In addition, 2014 marked the 15th annual BIG Health Programs Day. The initiative has several goals: educate the membership on health care access, disease prevention and treatment; exchange information on healthy lifestyles that reduce risks for HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, homicide, mental disorders, lupus, obesity and infant mortality; help foster partnerships within African-American communities; and increase awareness of ways to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. The program started daily at 6 a.m. with a cardio workout. A morning walk began the official health day. The program included presentations by fitness expert Cheryl Avon; Dr. Beverly Lynne-Cooke, who discussed diabetes and lupus; Dr. Earl Coffman on HIV; and chef Saryanne Frazer, who gave a demonstration on raw food.

BIG board chair Dr. Hezekiah Braxton III and BIG National President Darlene H. Young (r) welcome Archuleta as guest speaker at the 2014 national training conference.

BIG board chair Dr. Hezekiah Braxton III and BIG National President Darlene H. Young (r) welcome Archuleta as guest speaker at the 2014 national training conference.

Photos: Big National Photography Team

The BIG training institute, held annually at different locations throughout the U.S., likes to leave a positive footprint in the area it visits. This year, BIG visited Vegas’s Three Square Food Bank, making a $2,100 donation that supplied 6,300 meals.

Ending the 2014 training session, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta gave the closing keynote address.

“The work BIG has done since its founding nearly 40 years ago has been groundbreaking,” she concluded. “Your mission to make sure African-American employees at all levels of government can maximize their career opportunities is one I totally agree with. And events like this annual meeting provide just the training, networking and mentoring your members need. I will do all that I can to support you, to help you, to champion you, to make sure you have what you need to succeed. I do this because I know that together, you and I will continue to make sure that federal service is the model workforce for the 21st century.”


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