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Fast Five with Jim Day about EGLE's Veterans Employee Resource Group
November 10, 2022
Ahead of Veterans Day, today’s MI Environment Fast Five edition talks with Jim Day, Senior Environmental Quality Analyst in the Materials Management Division of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), about the department’s Veterans Employee Resource Group – EGLE Vets. Day served as a still photographic specialist in the U.S. Army for three years out of high school, followed by nineteen years of service in the Ohio Army National Guard. He retired from the Ohio Guard as a Captain in the Engineers.
When and how did the EGLE Veterans Employee Resource Group (ERG) start and how many employees participate?
The idea for the group came out of EGLE Director Liesl Clark’s 2021 Veterans Day panel discussion, and the EGLE Vets charter application was approved by the Executive Office on April 15. So, we are still less than a year in existence. Since that time, we have identified 22 veterans who receive update communications. The group is open not only to veterans, but to any EGLE staffers who would like to participate, as identified veterans or as allies to the group. There’s a lot of excitement about ERGs, nationally and within the State of Michigan. EGLE Vets has the potential to represent, and advocate for, the interests of EGLE staff and for those veterans and others who may be seeking employment with EGLE. Three ERGs preceded EGLE Vets in their formation, those being Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), Pride Alliance, and UNMAP Disability. Additional ERGs are projected to form in the coming months.
Gary Jones of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, and EGLE staffers Bradley Laskosky, Sandra Philpott-Burke, and Jim Day at a national Employee Resource Group conference in North Carolina (l to r).
Can you describe where EGLE Vets is headed?
Meetings to date have been directed at establishing the five program areas of focus for the group: Advocacy, Outreach, Mentorship, Engagement, and Benefits. Five EGLE veterans have volunteered to lead each of the five program areas on a 6-month rotating basis. EGLE Vets has also been actively working to enhance onboarding information to newly arriving EGLE staff regarding benefits they may have accrued from their service in the Armed Forces of the United States prior to coming to work for EGLE.
A more recent development is the establishment of chapters in each of EGLE’s District offices. Chapter leads, whose responsibility will be to coordinate with each of the five program leads regarding activities in their District office, will be announced internally within EGLE Vets as these positions are filled. Chapter 1 is being established in the Grand Rapids District Office, with more chapters certain to follow.
Have there been any special events?
We’ve had several speakers address the group, including Zaneta Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. We have also had a volunteer from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) present to the group. We are welcoming on November 15th General Robert B. Neller, former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. General Neller (brother of Mike Neller, director of EGLE’s Remediation and Redevelopment Division, who is a veteran of the United States Navy and former nuclear submarine commander) will address transitioning of veterans into state employment as well as take questions. The meeting is open to all EGLE staff. Outside of these internal EGLE Vets activities, three members of EGLE Vets recently attended a two-day National Employee Resource Group conference held in Durham, North Carolina. This event was also attended virtually by staff members from each of the EGLE ERGs.
What else is the group planning for outreach?
ERGs in corporate America and in state and federal government are often recognized for their ability to, if not actively, then passively recruit, or assist companies and government entities in attracting top talent into the workforce. The same potential exists for EGLE Vets as we might be able to support employment candidates’ understanding that EGLE is an employer who fully supports a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment, where all staff members feel they are important to the organization and belong. Future outreach efforts, then, may include more active support by EGLE Vets members of the EGLE Environmental Support Division’s goals to attract the best talent possible for employment within EGLE, be that from the local universities, elsewhere in government and industry, or straight out of military service.
Where can people get more information on the Veterans Employee Resource Group?
They can contact me at DayJ@michigan.gov. If they are in the Warren District Office on one of my alternating office days, they can stop by my cubicle. Othalene Lawrence, EGLE’s Equity and Inclusion Officer, is also a great source for information on all the active and forming ERGs within EGLE.