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Defense Health Agency Professional Networking Group Brings Employees Together

Image of Defense Health Agency Professional Networking Group Brings Employees Together. Defense Health Agency employees looking to connect with each other for professional support and networking can join the DHA Young Professionals group. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Capt. David J. Murphy)

For Defense Health Agency employees looking to connect and build camaraderie with their colleagues: A new employee resource group may be just for you.

The DHA Young Professionals, sponsored by DHA’s Employee Engagement Advisory Council, meet monthly to discuss their work and lessons learned, and connect with coworkers. And you don’t have to be young or new to DHA to join.

Early in 2023, a few DHA employees discussed wanting to connect with colleagues outside of their current networks and learn more about the workings of the DHA. This resulted in the creation of the DHA Young Professionals group.

“The focus of the group is building camaraderie, providing networking opportunities, and sharing information across the agency,” said Eric Baker, strategic partnerships manager of the agreements and partnership office with DHA.

Laura Ward, agreements manager with DHA’s agreements and partnership office, said, “Eric and I both wanted to get out of our bubble created from COVID-19. We discussed how there’s not a lot of information sharing, and when you’re working from home, you only talk to the same four or five people every day.”

“We’re trying to build those connections, so we align ourselves with other people who have similar aspirations and goals,” said Ward. “We wanted to find a way to build those connections, bring people together and have a mutually beneficial goal of learning more for our own benefit. This allows us to give back and be better informed and better engaged employees, and more aware of how we all fit into the mission of DHA.”

Ward said the group is open to anyone, no matter how long they’ve worked at DHA, and it’s open to military and civilian staff, along with contractors.

Since its launch in April 2023, the group is still evolving.

“We still are trying to figure out what works best and what people want from this group,” said Baker. “It’s still very much in development.”

The group’s organizers are always open to ideas to ensure meeting topics and activities are member-driven and benefit all.

Learning from Senior Leadership and DHA Colleagues

The group invites a mix of speakers from across the DHA and also subject matter experts within the group to brief to increase understanding of a complex organization as well as strengthen leadership skills and share opportunities for career growth within the DHA.

“The goal is to mix up between senior-level speakers, and a mix of people internal to the program, that could talk about their background and something of interest to them,” said Baker. “It’s an opportunity to do networking across the organization.”

In their September meeting, the DHA’s Senior Enlisted Leader U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Tanya Johnson discussed a variety of topics with the group.

She talked about DHA’s future and how the newly released strategic plan guides the future of the agency, staffing, and education and training of current staff.

“Over the next year, as we ensure that we’re all in moving in the same direction, as we change the culture and create an environment of trust, respect and accountability, people will see the value in being deliberate and disciplined,” said Johnson.

She also shared tips about how to be successful in your career and enjoy your time at DHA.

“Staying true to myself and managing my expectations have been two of my guiding principles throughout my career,” said Johnson. “Above all, remembering that it's the small moments that can have the most impact. That’s what keeps you engaged and keeps you going. That’s what helps you grow and thrive so you can make a difference.”

To hear more from Johnson, watch the replay.

Future Plans

Baker and Ward talked about how the group’s meeting in October will be important for the future of the group.

“The goal of that meeting is to have a conversation with the membership about what the future of our group looks like,” said Ward. “What kinds of topics do people want to hear about? Who do they want to hear from? What do they want? And where should we focus?”

“We really welcome participation so that we can make the future of the group really tailored to what everyone's expectations are.

To learn more or to join the next event, email Laura Ward, Eric Baker, or Katia Zillic, or join the Young Professional MS Teams channel.

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Last Updated: October 02, 2023
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