By Jameela Raja Akbari
The Department of State’s Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SES CDP) held a graduation ceremony for its most recent participants in the Burns Auditorium of the Harry S. Truman Building, Jan. 17. From a pool of more than 400 applicants, 14 participants were selected, three of which came from external agencies—the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. Department leadership and other SES staff, colleagues, mentees, family members, and the enthusiastic graduates filled the auditorium to witness the culmination of the rigorous two-year CDP. Members of the graduating cohort spoke about relevant topics, including leadership skills, professional achievements, and diversity.
“Do we see America looking back at us when we look at the Department’s SES?” asked Jameela Raja Akbari, a 2018–2020 graduate who was chosen as class speaker.
The Department’s SES looks very similar to the 8,000 government-wide SES. Demographics show that 98 percent of SES are individuals without a targeted disability, 85 percent are white, and 60 percent are male. Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Global Talent Carol Z. Perez reinforced Akbari’s remarks about the importance of diversity and inclusion in SES.
“As leaders, we have no greater responsibility than empowering our people to contribute to the mission to the best of their ability,” said Perez. “This starts with fostering a culture of respect and inclusion. One in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect and is enabled to do great work and thrive.”
Managed by the Civil Service Talent Management (CSTM) office, formerly called the Office of Civil Service Human Resource Management, the SES CDP meets the Office of Personnel Management’s requirements to develop executive core qualifications through 80 hours of interagency training, a 120-day developmental assignment, and mentorship. The Department revived the program in 2018 to build agency capacity by training and preparing selected participants for entry into SES. More information about the SES CDP is available to Department employees on CSTM’s intranet site, here.
Jameela Raja Akbari is the director of the Office of Accessibility and Accommodations.