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Chief Acquisition Officer Wilkinson Speaks at Women's History Month

As Prepared For Delivery

Remarks By
Molly Wilkinson
Chief Acquisition Officer
U.S. General Services Administration
GSA Women’s History Month Celebration
GSA Auditorium
March 28, 2007

Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for coming.

I’m sorry Administrator Doan couldn’t be here today. I know she’d rather be with us, and Lurita’s story and achievements are certainly inspiring to think about during women’s history month.

But I’m also glad for this chance to introduce myself.

My name, as you heard, is Molly Wilkinson. I’m your new Chief Acquisition Officer. This is the first time I’ve been out of my office since I walked into GSA three weeks ago. boy, if I knew then what I know now … I’m kidding! … The fact is I’m thrilled to be here and just as excited about the challenges we face in the world of government contracting.

Let me share my view of government procurement. You remember Astronaut Alan Shepherd and his historic first flight into space back in 1961.  As Shephard stared down at the earth, he said: "it’s a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one’s safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract".

Shephard’s point – something we can all take to heart - is that the work we do, and how well we do it, has important consequences. Sometimes those consequences extend farther and wider than we imagine.

So it was with the courageous women who broke down obstacles and opened opportunities for the generations that would follow.

We have so much to celebrate during women’s history month, both as a nation and as a federal agency. America would not be the same strong, compassionate nation it is today without the contributions women have made in art, science, public service, sports, politics and countless other professions.

From Edith Wharton to Shirley Chisolm … Sandra Day O’connor to Sally Ride … Venus and Serena to Carol Mosely-Braun and Coretta Scott King … women have indeed been the builders of communities and dreams.

And, as President Bush has noted, women continue to strengthen our nation - and the world - by excelling in all walks of life, including business, law, politics, family life, education, community service, science, medicine and the arts.

That includes the women in uniform serving in harm’s way in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.

During National Women’s History month, we honor the women who have fought unrelentingly for decades for justice and equality, and who have continually strived to make America smarter, stronger and more secure.

Many are carrying on that rich tradition right here at GSA.

That includes:

  • Lurita Doan, the first woman in history to head our agency;
  • Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Turco;
  • Ann Everett, Acting Regional Administrator in the National Capital Region;
  • Madeline Caliendo, Associate Administrator of our Office of Civil Rights;
  • Human Capital Officer Gail Lovelace;
  • Regional Administrators Barbara Shelton and Emily Baker, and many, many more… including the seven women – that’s right, seven!  - recently named to Federal Computer Week’s prestigious “Fed 100.” that’s Mary Davie, Teresa Nasif, Casey Coleman, Lisa Akers, Deborah Mccray, Michel Kareis, and Mary Parks. Congratulations!

As you’ve seen, the theme for National Women's History month this year is, "Generations of Women Moving History Forward". Our GSA women certainly qualify.

So do some other women. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, my last boss, was the first Asian American woman in history appointed to a President’s Cabinet. Drew Gilpin Faust is the first female president of Harvard. Effa Manley, co-owner of the Negro Leagues, “Newark Eagles,” became the first woman elected to the baseball hall of fame.

Another who has moved history forward is our keynote speaker – a true legend around this building -- former GSA General Counsel Allie Latimer, the co-founder and first National President of Federally Employed Women.

Last but surely not least, during Women’s History month we honor our mothers and our grandmothers, and our sisters and our daughters, for all they do to inspire us, and for the unconditional love they bestow upon us every day. I know I wouldn’t have reached this point without the love, support and guidance I received over the years -- and which I continue to receive -- from my mother and sisters.

The President has urged all Americans to celebrate the extraordinary contributions and accomplishments of American women.

Today I’m doing the same.

Thank you very much.