FWP awards honor excellence

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

9/2/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- To show recognition for a job well done, the Federal Women's Program distributed distinguished service awards during its luncheon Aug. 25.

The annual awards recognize men and women who enhance the opportunity for women in the workplace.

"These awards are important because, so many times, not everyone is recognized for the great service they provide to their community, on and off the job," said Theresa Osborne, FWP member. "This is another avenue for organizations to lift up others and show their appreciation for a job well done."

For winner Capt. Cindy Serrano of Squadron Officer College, the award is significant in the Montgomery community, given its history of civil rights.

"Because (FWP) ensures that employment decisions do not discriminate against qualified women, it has allowed myself along with many other women to pursue opportunities with confidence and poise," said Serrano, 2011 supervisor of the year winner. "Having that kind of advocate and network in place carries on the legacy and courage that others have left to be carried on."

Additional 2011 winners are:
· General schedule or wage grade, wage supervisor 1-8, pay band 1: Berlinda Vaughn, 42nd Medical Group

· GS or WG, WS 9 and above, pay bands 2, 3 and 4: Janet Walker, Air Force Program Executive Office, Enterprise Information Systems

· Military enlisted: Master Sgt. Saskia Johnson, 42nd Force Support Squadron

· Military officer: Capt. Josephine Beacham, Squadron Officer College

"I am very proud of every nominee," said Col. Susan Schlacter, vice commander of 42nd Air Base Wing. "You're all winners."

This year's luncheon featured guest speaker Sieu Tang Wood, who operates the alterations facility at Maxwell and military installations throughout the southeast.

"She believes the customer should come first," said Kevin Nero, emcee. "She is an American success story."

Wood was born in Vietnam, moved to Laos as a child and came to San Francisco in 1973 with her sister. "We had two suitcases and one big dream," she said.

Following a job opportunity, the sisters moved to Anchorage, Alaska, and eventually established their own alterations business with one sewing machine. They did alterations for Airmen at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

"I put my own clothes on the rack so it looked like I had business," Wood said. "We learned how to survive."

The business became so successful, the family could afford to move to the continental U.S.

In 1985, Wood moved to Alabama and began doing alterations at Maxwell. She now operates six shops in Montgomery and Prattville.

She credits her hard work and determination with the success she has today. "If I hadn't experienced thunderstorms, I wouldn't realize the sunrise is so beautiful," she said.

The Federal Women's Program organized at Maxwell-Gunter in June 1976, promoting equal opportunity for civilian and military personnel. The group promotes equality through career counseling and assistance in career planning through training classes and seminars.

The FWP meets from 8-9 a.m. the first Wednesday of the month. For membership information, contact Tracy Coomes, FWP president, at 416-3918.