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 Izella Mitchell Dornell, Deputy Chief Information Officer
As Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Department, I am responsible for leading the effort that provides Department Information Technology (IT) program and project oversight for all major IT investments all appropriately aligned with the Department and mission objectives and goals. My responsibilities also include facilitating the current shared service initiatives for the Herbert C. Hoover Building resident bureaus (Commerce headquarters), which include email cloud migration, web hosting, IT security, a tier one service/help desk call center, and video teleconferencing capability. I employ a combination of leadership and management skills to provide our team members with the necessary resources to enable their individual and collective professional growth. I also implement effective fiscal strategies, performance assessments, healthy customer service focus, and the management and operations for the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO).
I consider myself a Texan, but I grew up in Alabama, graduating at the top of my high school class in Birmingham, Alabama, with a keen interest in science and mathematics. I earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a master’s of business administration degree from the University of Houston. Because I am a firm believer in education, I completed several Executive Leadership programs at Harvard, Simmons College, and Penn State University.
My professional government career began over 30 years ago with NASA in Houston, Texas, with the Space Shuttle Program, after I graduated from college. When I started my career, the technical field did not have many female role models, so I had to learn very young in my career how to navigate in work environments that were often challenging for females, but more so for an ambitious, focused, goal-oriented young African American female.
I learned that there was no substitute for working hard; being prepared; and having an awareness of one’s strengths, a willingness to go toward one’s fears, and—perhaps most of all—the fortitude to acknowledge what one does not know. My mother often told me as a young child that I can accomplish any goals in life if I acquire a good education, exercise faith, observe the Golden Rule, and not let barriers or obstacles deter me from accomplishing my goals, for “barriers are meant to be broken and success will follow”.
I am a firm believer in the adage that to whom much is given much is required, so I have tried to always give back in many ways, through my community, my church, and professional and civic organizational involvement. I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, and National Council of Negro Women. I am my church’s strategic planning ministry leader, and I am involved with the American Council of Technology, serving as the government’s chair for this year’s Management of Change summit.
During February, the United States observes Black History accomplishments, but on a personal level, this month is a time to reflect on the many sacrifices that were made so that I could have the educational opportunities that I experienced and the impacts I have made over my 30-plus-year professional career. When I think about growing up in the South during a segregated time in our history, I appreciate those whose quest for equality helped make it possible for me to humbly serve my country here at the Department of Commerce and serve as a positive role model for our youth and my three children as well.
I truly agree with the First African American Former President of historical Spelman College Johnetta Cole, who stated: "How much better our world would be if each of us respected differences until difference doesn’t make any more difference.”