“I had no idea that I was nominated or who nominated me. I was there to support the program as well as my supervisor, Kevin Charles, who was nominated for an award,” said Smith.

 

Barbara Smith, surety specialist at Pine Bluff Arsenal’s Quality Evaluation Facility was named the Federal Women’s Program Woman of the Year for 2017 during the Arsenal’s annual Women’s History Month luncheon March 23.

 

“I had no idea that I was nominated or who nominated me. I was there to support the program as well as my supervisor, Kevin Charles, who was nominated for an award,” said Smith.

           

A native of Hughes, Arkansas, Smith graduated from Forrest City, Ark. High School in 1981. She retired from the Navy as a Petty Officer First Class, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix (San Diego, Calif., campus) in 2001, and Master of Science degree in Occupational Safety and Health/Environmental Management from Columbia Southern University in Mississippi in 2010. She currently resides in White Hall, Ark.

           

According to the nomination information, Smith enlisted in the military at a time when there were still very few minority women, and most of her career often involved being one of only a few women supervisors.

 

“I joined the military right after high school and went to boot camp in Orlando, Fla. I had no intentions of joining the Navy and was college bound with an academic scholarship to Arkansas State University at the time.  My best friend wanted to join the Navy and talked me into going with her to see a recruiter. The recruiter talked me into taking the exam with her – She failed and I passed,” said Smith. “The recruiter explained that I could work full time and go to school at night and the Navy would help me pay for school. I needed a break. In the Navy, I became a jet mechanic. That was really cool for me because this was not a typical field for women.”

 

In an effort to improve the status of women, Smith’s quiet professionalism and ability to hold her own is an inspiration for other women to follow. “She continually supports and continues to support other women she has worked with and around by encouraging them to make the most of their careers, both through formal education and professional training opportunities within the government. She has many success stories to tell about former employees, as well as the pitfalls to avoid,” read the nomination information.

 

Further demonstrating her efforts to improve women’s status, Smith volunteered recently to take on the position of counselor/representative for the Arsenal’s Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program or SHARP. “She has attended training classes and seminar to enhance her effectiveness in this role,” read the information.

           

Smith is also very active in the community, volunteering for Red Cross and the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Mentoring Program. “As a participant in the mentoring program, she has encouraged young people to have goals such as furthering their education whether it be a trade school or college,” read the nomination information. “She especially liked to mentor young females to explore the career opportunities in the fields of math, science and technology.”