Twenty-four federal staff members were selected from 180 applicants to comprise the 2014-2015 cohort of the FAPAC Challenge Teams (photo by WHIAAPI).
The challenges facing the federal government today are myriad and complex. To successfully meet them, federal government leaders must be creative and innovative; flexible and resilient; cooperative and collaborative. They must be able to work in effective teams, value individual differences, and leverage diversity to think strategically and solve concrete problems.
To develop these skills in federal employees who have limited opportunities to train, go on details, or work on special assignments, the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) created the “Challenge Team” program. The FAPAC Challenge Team is a cost-neutral, project-oriented, innovative and experiential training-based program that gives federal employees, especially those at the GS-9 to GS-14 levels, the chance to develop leadership skills while working on significant and challenging projects, without having to leave their agencies on detail assignments or temporary duties.
With participation from the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), FAPAC launched the program with its first class in July 2013 during the WHIAAPI Federal Employee Conference.
Following the tremendous success with the first class, FAPAC launched its second class of Challenge Team at the 2014 Federal Employee Conference and held its kickoff meeting on October 14 in Washington, DC. Twenty-four federal staff members were selected from 180 applicants to comprise the 2014-2015 cohort of the FAPAC Challenge Teams. These federal employees are divided into four teams that are responsible for tackling issues surrounding language access, capacity building, data disaggregation, and workforce diversity. They will use principles of design thinking in order to address these longstanding issues in a fresh, creative, and innovative way. Each team has representation from agencies across the federal government and hail from different regions of the country, ensuring that diverse perspectives and experiences are included in this process.
During a kickoff meeting, participants in the 2014 Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) Challenge Teams work together on a human-centered design activity in Washington, DC, October 14, 2014 (photo by WHIAAPI).
The FAPAC Challenge Team program offers participants a unique opportunity to get involved on the hard-hitting issues that affect AAPI communities around the country. It is also an opportunity for federal workers to gain valuable professional development and experience to take with them as they continue advancing in their careers. Each team will spend the next six months working together to analyze issues and produce impactful solutions that federal agencies can incorporate in order to ensure that agencies are able to better deliver their services and programs. You can find out more about this program at: www.fapac.org/challengeteams.
We look forward to working with the Challenge Team participants to help the federal government rise and meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.
Doua Thor is Senior Advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Stephen Yim is Advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.