Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.
Guest blog post by Charmaine Davis, Office of the Secretary
Growing up in a single parent household, I learned the value of working hard to attain your goals. Watching my mother work hard and be selfless to provide for me and my siblings instilled a value of tenacity and integrity. She served in the federal government as a financial management specialist for 39 years. My mother’s love for her career has been truly inspiring and sparked an interest in me early on.
I have worked in the federal government since 2001, beginning at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Aspiring Leaders Program, coupled with great mentors, provided me with training and leadership opportunities that helped shape my career at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
My career at Commerce began in 2005 in the Office of Financial Management (OFM), Office of Executive Budgeting. For the next four years, I learned the fundamentals of the Commerce budgeting process, and later served as the Budget Officer in the Office of the Secretary (OS).
I am currently the Executive Officer, which means I am responsible for the management and execution of the Office of the Secretary’s budget. I work with OS staff to ensure that Secretarial initiatives and office needs are funded and supported. I also work with the Office of Administration to establish and enforce administrative policies and procedures for all OS offices.
In the State of the Union Address, President Obama addressed three key principles, opportunity, action and optimism. In tough budget circumstances, it is my job to work with the OS directors in creatively aiming to fulfill the Commerce Secretary’s mission using the funding we have. I am lucky to work with some incredibly enthusiastic individuals, and we strive as a team to get to the finish line.
One of the persons who have influenced me to become who I am today would be my daughter Ciani, who I had at the age of 16! What some considered being a mistake was a life lesson for me. Being a teen mom caused me to be extremely diligent to meet my objectives, to aim high, be resilient, and responsible. It is important to me to provide her and her siblings with an example of what it means to dream big and overcome the roadblocks that may be set against you. Because of that ambition, my daughter is in her freshman year at Virginia State University, obtaining her goals one by one and I couldn’t be prouder.
Along with my husband and children, we attend Faith United Ministries in District Heights, MD. In my free time I volunteer at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Holy Cross Hospital in support of the March of Dimes. This cause is near and dear to my heart after having two micro-preemie infants. I am also a member of a Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) support group. TTP is a rare blood disease that threatened my life and left me hospitalized for several months in 2013. Enduring these situations has probably been the hardest experiences in my life, but I believe everything in life adds to our character.
Black History Month is an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of outstanding African-Americans, both from our past and individuals who have not been widely recognized. I share the information with my children, in the hopes that it will help shape their dreams and goals. The knowledge we gain through experience and education is passed throughout generations, and it helps develop our youth into the individuals we all have the potential to be.
If I could give any advice to a young American interested in my career, particularly African-Americans, I would say that each of us have a designated road that leads to success. Navigate your road carefully, try to avoid the potholes of life when possible, realizing even then that those bumps in the road are not the determining factor of where you will land.