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West Virginia Civil Rights Committee

Welcome to Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia!

West Virginia's Civil Rights Program

The civil rights advisory committee (CRAC) is designed to provide management officials and employees with a vehicle that enhances and fulfills their equal opportunity and program delivery responsibilities. CRAC members will carry out their responsibilities consistent with USDA policies, procedures, and practices regarding affirmative employment and program delivery, which are nondiscriminatory with regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity. The CRAC provides input and assistance in the areas of policy formulation and program direction and administration.

Members include:

  • Special emphasis program managers will serve as members of the CRACs and provide leadership in their areas of responsibility. 
  • Outreach coordinators and other specialists, as appropriate, will serve as advisors to the CRACs. Members of the State or area leadership team may also serve as advisors. 

West Virginia Special Emphasis Programs

Why Special Emphasis Programs?

The term “special emphasis program” (SEP) refers to those programs that focus special attention on certain specific groups as a result of a particular law, regulation, or Executive order.  SEPs were established to address the employment-related concerns of groups not specifically included in other programs where a need for special emphasis or employment concerns of such groups has been demonstrated.  NRCS SEPs include the following:

  • Disability Emphasis Program
  • Federal Women’s Program
  • Hispanic Emphasis Program
  • Asian American/Pacific Islander Emphasis Program
  • American Indian/Alaska Native Emphasis Program
  • Black Emphasis Program
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Emphasis Program
  • Veterans Emphasis Program

What do they do?

Special Emphasis Program Managers are responsible for:

  • Coordinating diversity events
  • Assessing under-representation of minorities and women, and providing input to affirmative employment plans
  • Developing action items to eliminate barriers to employing and promoting women and minorities
  • Increasing diversity awareness, as well as understanding of and appreciation for differences among all people and how these differences influence day-to-day operations

The Special Emphasis Program Managers work for the State Conservationist.

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Disability Emphasis Program

Lauren Hobbs, Disability Emphasis Program Manager

The Disability Emphasis Program was established at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address the unique concerns of persons with disabilities in achieving equal opportunity in all employment and program delivery activities.  As an integral part of the State Civil Rights Committee, the DEPM provides guidance oversight, and training to managers and employees, and outreach to customers.  The goal is to raise the awareness on issues related to employment, reasonable accommodations, and barriers.  The role of the DEPM is to advise management and human resources of issues on national and state programs, opportunities, and concerns, as well as provide confidential assistance to employees within the state.

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Federal Women's Program

Alyssa Moorhead, Federal Women's Program Manager

The Federal Women’s Program (FWP) is a special emphasis program within the Equal Opportunity Program of the federal government. The FWP was established in 1967 to enhance employment and advancement of women. The program provides a forum for all Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employees in West Virginia. Although the program focuses on women, the information disseminated and items discussed pertain to employment issues that interest and help all employees regardless of gender.

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Hispanic Emphasis Program

Ileane Rodriguez-Soto, Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager

The purpose of the program is to provide focus on issues such as employmentpromotiontraining, and career enhancement affecting Hispanic employees and applicants in NRCS.

drawing of people of various ethnicities

Asian American/Pacific Islander Emphasis Program

Russell Young, Asian American/Pacific Islander Emphasis Program Manager

Asian Americans are one of the most highly diversified ethnic groups in the United States. They vary greatly in both cultural and physical characteristics. The attitudes, values, and ethnic institutions often differ among individual communities. These are celebrated nationally on an annual basis throughout the month of May, Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month. 

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American Indian/Alaska Native Emphasis Program

Ben Collier, American Indian/Alaska Native Emphasis Program Manager

The Purpose of the American Indian/Alaska Native Program is to provide focus on issues such as employment, promotion, training, and career enhancement affecting American Indian/Alaska Native Employees and applicants in NRCS.

The American Indian/Alaska Native Employee Association for Natural Resources Conservation Service was formed in 1997.  To find out more about them, log in to their Webpage at     .

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of this Nation has resulted in a whole month being designated for the purpose.  National American Indian Heritage Month is celebrated during the month of November.

Native American Indians are a people in transition between history and contemporary America.  The challenge for Native Americans is to maintain their heritage, erase a stereotype, and adjust recognition in society.  Native Americans are too often stereotyped by antiquated and discriminatory attitudes which misrepresent valued contributions to American's development and growth.

A library containing reference material on Native American Indians has been established.  The library consists of books and videos available to employees on a sign-out basis.  I encourage all employees to utilize the library to become informed regarding the true history and heritage of the American Indian.

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Black Emphasis Program

Ruby Daniels, Black Emphasis Program Manager

It is NRCS policy to conduct a positive and continuing BEPM that provides equal employment opportunity for African Americans/Blacks in all personnel management policies and practices and in NRCS-sponsored programs and activities.

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Emphasis Program

Chad Gifford, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Emphasis Program Manager

In 2009, USDA updated its Departmental Regulation (DR) 4230-002, Special Emphasis Programs. The DR established a new Special Emphasis for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees.

LGBT refers collectively to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. In use since the 1990s, the term replaces the phrase "gay community", which many within LGBT communities felt did not represent accurately all those to whom it referred. The term “LGBT” is intended to emphasize a diversity of sexuality and gender identity-based cultures and is sometimes used to refer to anyone who is not heterosexual instead of exclusively to people who are homosexual, bisexual, or transgender.

The purpose of the program is to provide LGBT awareness and education to NRCS employees and partners while focusing on such issues as employment, retention, promotion, training, career development, and advancement opportunities affecting LGBT applicants and employees at NRCS.

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Veterans Emphasis Program

Tim Hastings, Veterans Emphasis Program Manager

The purpose of the veterans emphasis program is to provide focus on issues of employment, retention, promotion, training, career development, and advancement opportunities affecting applicants and employees of NRCS who are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.