Q & A with Joanne Savoy in Recognition of Black History Month

Joanne Savoy works in the NRC’s Office of International Programs as a licensing assistant for the Exports Controls and Nonproliferation Branch. She has also been the chair of the agency’s Advisory Committee for African Americans (ACAA) for the past three years.

What is the ACAA?

joanneThe ACAA is one of eight Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committees here at the NRC. It reports to the Office of Small Business and Civil Rights and its goal is to assist in identifying issues that may impact African American employees. We also make recommendations to address those issues.

Why does diversity matter in the NRC workplace?

Diversity matters because everyone is able to bring different points of view to the table. Many of us come from different backgrounds, and we are able to take what we have experienced — and learned in our own diversified cultures — to add value to our everyday work life. Diversity at the NRC means a new way of thinking, and a new way for all of us to interact with each other and learn from each other.

How does diversity in the workforce help the NRC meet its mission?

There are many studies that prove that when workers are ethnically and racially diverse, are educated in different parts of the country, represent multiple generations, and come from various socio-economic backgrounds they collaborate and contribute in a way that makes an organization more successful and productive in accomplishing its mission.

The NRC permanent staff is made up of:

15% African Americans
10% Asians
6% Hispanics
1% Native Americans
67% White

We come from all parts of the country; we have been educated in many different colleges and universities, and in many different disciplines (both technical and non-technical). We represent every generation across every age group. We practice many different religions and beliefs and nearly 1% of our work force is employees with disabilities. This is the diversity that makes the NRC great.

Why is Black History Month important?

Black History Month is important because it is a time to reflect on how far we have come. Black History Month is a time for EVERYONE to celebrate ALL who have fought for African American rights and freedom. Judge Alan Rosenthal, a member of the NRC’s ASLPB, was the keynote speaker at the agency’s African American History month dinner in 2013. I was surprised to learn the agency had someone who played a vital role in the historic Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. I remember thinking how amazing it was to have met this man who had fought so hard for someone like me, so I would have the opportunities that I have today. I will never forget that moment. It made me realize how the NRC has heroes like Judge Rosenthal, who fought the fight for equal rights.

What should people make a point to do/think/reflect on during Black History Month?

We should make a point to volunteer and give back to our communities. There are people and children who need us to guide them and help them make their lives better. I also think we should continue to educate not only ourselves but our children about our history. There are so many great movies like Selma, Roots, 12 Years A Slave, Glory, The Butler, Malcom X, Road to Memphis, American Black Journal and so many more that can help the education process. We should be watching these movies and talking to our children, family and friends about what Black History Month means to us.

I am who I am because of the people — black and white — who have fought the fight for equal rights. Because of them, a woman like me is able to work here at the NRC and to have the freedom to do whatever I want. It is up to me and you to give back and continue the legacy and remember we have come a long way, but there is always more that we can do to continue with the our legacy.