Chapter Events

Tuesday, February 2 from 2:00 - 3:00 pm (ET)

Amazon Chime or phone: 1-855-552-4463. Meeting ID: 1980 74 9940

Joanna Mountain (Senior Director of Research) and Steven Micheletti (Population Geneticist) will present on their July 2020 study that used genetic data from close to 50,000 people to comprehensively investigate the transatlantic slave trade and African ancestry in the Americas. Joanna Mountain joined 23andMe from Stanford University where, as a faculty member within the Anthropological Sciences and Genetics Departments, she specialized in human evolutionary genetics. Steven Micheletti is a Population Geneticist and an expert in using tools from genetics to study migrations. He also uses participant data to research impactful historical events and is the lead author on 23andMe’s landmark study Genetic Consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

BIG GAO-USACE Chapter and FEW Federal Triangle Chapter Presents: Exploring the Black Family’s Representation, Identity, and Diversity within our GAO Community

Thursday, February 23 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM (ET)

Adobe Connect (details coming soon)


Please join the GAO-USACE Chapter of Blacks In Government (BIG) and the Federal Triangle Chapter of Federally Employed Women (FEW) celebrate Black History Month’s 2021 themed Exploring the Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity. While the role of the black family has been described by some as a microcosm of the entire race, its complexity as the “foundation” of African American life and history can be seen in numerous debates over how to represent its meaning and typicality from a historical perspective. Please join us for an interactive conversation as we explore this dynamic within our own GAO community!


Event Contact: Georgette Hagans at 202-512-6908 or Steven Rocker at 202-512-8804

Blacks In Government (BIG) GAO-USACE Chapter’s 33rd Annual Oratorical Contest

Thursday, February 25 from noon – 3:30PM (ET)

Zoom [Additional details forthcoming]


Please join us for the first Virtual GAO Oratorical Contest as we listen to D.C. high school students share their thoughts on the Black Family: Its representation, identity, and diversity from their own perspective.

Event Contact: Pamela H. Richards

Blacks In Government (BIG) GAO-USACE Chapter’s 2021 BHM Diversity in Literature Book Club Discussion

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

2021 BHM Diversity in Literature Book Club Discussion of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi held Tuesday, February 9, 2021.


In honor of Black History Month 2021, the Diversity in Literature Book Club hosted a discussion of Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing (2016), which traces the lives and paths of two half-sisters Effia and Esi, who were born into different villages in Ghana. Effia married a wealthy Englishman and experienced luxury in Cape Coast Castle; while Esi is captured during a raid, imprisoned in the same castle, and sold into slavery. The novel covers 300 years of family history and eight generations of the sisters’ descendants from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi and Alabama, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem, and the latter half of the twentieth-century.

Blacks In Government (BIG) GAO-USACE Chapter 2019 - 2020 Events

Chapter Events

2019 - 2020

GAO-USACE Chapter of 2019-2020 Events


  • On February 7, 2019, for the Black History Month (BHM) kick-off event related to the national theme of The Great Migration, Professor Chatelain discussed her book South Side Girls: Growing up in the Great Migration. In South Side Girls Marcia Chatelain recasts Chicago's Great Migration through the lens of black girls. Focusing on the years between 1910 and 1940, when Chicago's black population quintupled, Chatelain describes how Chicago's black social scientists, urban reformers, journalists and activists formulated a vulnerable image of urban black girlhood that needed protecting. She argues that the construction and meaning of black girlhood shifted in response to major economic, social, and cultural changes and crises, and that it reflected parents' and community leaders' anxieties about urbanization and its meaning for racial progress. Girls shouldered much of the burden of black aspiration, as adults often scrutinized their choices and behavior, and their well-being symbolized the community's moral health. Yet these adults were not alone in thinking about the Great Migration, as girls expressed their views as well. Referencing girls' letters and interviews, Chatelain uses their powerful stories of hope, anticipation and disappointment to highlight their feelings and thoughts, and in so doing, she helps restore the experiences of an understudied population to the Great Migration's complex narrative.


  • On February 12, 2019, the Chapter held a Leadership Empowerment Training. Kevin M. Coleman, a Management Program Analyst for the General Services Administration (GSA), Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), Common Acquisition Platform (CAP) discussed his role in creating systems user requirements and fostering great interpersonal communication between clients and customers within and outside the Government. He discussed how to leverage leadership through empowerment.


  • For BHM, On February 13, 2019, BIG facilitated an Art Museum Guided Tour of the The Phillips Collection's Museum of Modern Art. The Migration Series exhibit from The Phillips Collection's highlighted Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series (1940–41), a sequence of 60 paintings, depicts the mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North between World War I and World War II—a development that had received little previous public attention. 


  • On February 21, 2019, BIG held a BHM Diversity in Literature Book Club Discussion on The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. The book chronicles the life of Hattie Shepherd, who at 15 in 1923, moves from the Deep South to Philadelphia as part of the Great Migration of African-Americans. She soon marries and suffers the loss of her first born, a set of 1 year-old twins. Hattie struggles in a marriage that is not always happy and with more children than money to care for them. Hattie goes on to raise twelve children although the deaths of her first born leave her emotionally distant from her offspring. The novel tells the story of Hattie’s life from 1923 to 1980 through chapters devoted to a different child or set of children and the significant events in their lives.


  • On February 28, 2019, in its 31st  year, BIG hosted the Annual GAO Student Essay Oratorical Program featuring D.C. Public High School students sharing their thoughts on the 2019 Oratorical theme, Justice for all: Is American Justice Blind or Oblivious to Certain Youth Populations? 


  • 2020 BHM Kick Off Event for the theme African Americans and the Vote with Professor Christopher Bonner University of Maryland. Assistant Professor of History Christopher Bonner discussed the history of African American voting rights as well as his upcoming first book, A New Republic: Black Protest and the Creation of American Citizenship (set to be published in March 2020) to kick off the GAO’s Black History Month 2020 celebration.


  • 2020 BHM Diversity in Literature Book Club Discussion of Bruce Watson’s book, Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy (2010). The book presented an historical account of a crucial episode in the American civil rights movement. In summer of 1964, more than 700 mostly white college students from across the United States volunteered to go to Mississippi to register voters, teach African American children in Freedom Schools, and challenge a century of Jim Crow.


  • 2020 BHM Event Guest Speaker Terri Stroud held February 26, 2020. The Chapter partnered with the Federal Triangle Chapter of Federally Employed Women (FEW) to host guest speaker Terri Stroud, General Counsel for the DC Board of Elections (DCBOE) for GAO’s Black History Month 2020 celebration. She discussed D.C. efforts to fight against poll taxes, literacy tests, voter roll purges, and other more contemporary forms of voter suppression.


  • 2020 BHM Event Guest Speaker Hubert Bell for a Fireside Chat held February 20, 2020. The GAO-USACE Chapter of Blacks In Government (BIG) and the Forensic Audits and Investigative Service (FAIS) Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect (DI&R) Committee hosted guest speaker Hubert Bell for GAO’s 2020 Black History Month celebration. Mr. Bell discussed promoting diversity within the ranks of a large government agency.


  • 2020 BHM Pop-up Museum: On Tuesday, February 18, the BHM Planning Committee held an opening ceremony for the Black History Month Pop-up Museum on African Americans and the Vote in the Learning Center. Inspired by GAO’s Caribbean American Heritage Month pop-up museums from years past, the museum showcased the events, people, policies, and movements that have shaped the struggle for African American voting rights throughout America’s history. The opening ceremony included remarks from Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, Special Assistant to the Comptroller General for Diversity and Inclusion Zina Merritt, and Blacks in Government President Pamela Richards.


  • BHM 32nd Annual GAO Student Essay Oratorical Program. In its 32nd year, the Annual GAO Student Essay Oratorical Program featured D.C. Public High School students sharing their thoughts on the 2020 Oratorical Theme, African Americans and The Vote: The importance and the struggle of African Americans Right to Vote.


  • BIG GAO-USACE Chapter Discussion on Getting to the Other Side held July 23, 2020. The GAO-USACE BIG Chapter held a facilitated discussion on navigating through the Corona Virus Disease (COVID), 2020 pandemic, and the continued racial injustices in both our professional and personal lives. The discussion was facilitated by Mr. John Townes, HCO’s Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager and Ms. La Don Williams, Director, GAO-wide Learning Programs. 

Provided by:

Georgette J. Hagans

Senior Analyst, Forensic Audits and Investigative Service