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Civil Rights

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service Civil Rights Committee places emphasis on equal opportunity for Kentucky's employees and program customers. The committee strives to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable groups of society. Every employee, applicant and customer must be treated fairly, equitably and with dignity and respect. 

The committee provides guidance on federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital or family status, political beliefs, parental status, protected genetic information, or reprisal (retaliation) for prior EEO activity. Unlawful discrimination in any form will not be tolerated.

Name Committee Title
Jamie Ponder Chair
Delilah Poe Vice-Chair
Greg Stone Deputy Equal Opportunity Officer
Christy Morgan Co-Advisor
Sonya Keith Co-Advisor
Michael Zachary Safety Officer
Justin Pius Outreach Coordinator
Ed L. Thompson USDA 1890 Liaison
Brian Hacker NRCS Area 1 Representative
Leslie Fourqurean District Area 1 Representative
Hayley Perkins NRCS Area 2 Representative
Shayna Gibson District Area 2 Representative
Avery Fierros NRCS Area 3 Representative
Ryan Ross District Area 3 Representative
David Chan State Office Representative









Special Emphasis Program Managers (SEPM)

Special emphasis activities and support are an integral part of the civil rights program. Program managers assist the state conservationist, to ensure that equal opportunity is present in all programs and services. This includes providing leadership to identify under-represented groups and ensure positive actions are being taken to address any issues. Program managers provided advice and assistance to management officials in order to help meet civil rights program goals and objectives, and they ensure effective communications among all persons and areas dealing with, or affected by, agency civil rights responsibilities.

Manager Observed Program
Lydia Smith February Black History
Kathy Terry March Women's History
Ryan Pendley May Asian American/Pacific Islander heritage
Lisa Taylor June Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer+
Loretta Klein September 15-October 15 Hispanic Heritage
Melissa Rucker October Disability Employment Awareness
Sheila Keeling November American Indian/Alaskan Native Heritage
Shannon O'Hara November Veterans'








FOCUS Newsletters




(EEO) Equal employment opportunity is the law of the land that applies to employment activities in the Federal and private sectors. EEO and civil rights began with the Constitution and Bill of Rights; however, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights did not mention employment discrimination.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal for any employer to deny anyone a job because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII also prohibited discrimination in firing, promoting, training, salary, and all other privileges of employment. The Act also established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC was given the responsibility to investigate EEO complaints and to attempt to resolve those complaints through conciliation and mediation.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that no person in the United States shall, on the "grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Non-Discrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on 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, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at How to File a Program Discrimination Complaint and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email:

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.