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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Fellow Spotlight: Byron Adkins

Fellow Spotlight: Byron Adkins

Byron M. Adkins, Jr. is the Associate Director for Operations at the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) and has nineteen years of federal government experience and military service (U.S. Army). Prior to joining FCA, he served as the Director of the Interior Business Center (IBC) within the U.S. Department of the Interior. As the Director of IBC, he was responsible for leading the delivery of shared services (Human Resources/Payroll, Financial Management, and Acquisitions) to support Interior offices and bureaus, as well as over 150 other federal agencies. He oversaw 44 service lines that generated $300 million in revenue and managed a workforce of over 900 employees.

He joined the IBC from the U.S. Department of Commerce where he served as the Director for the Office of Facilities and Environmental Quality (OFEQ). Mr. Adkins has served in leadership positions at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Interior Business Center, USDA, Office of Operations, and a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill.

Who or what inspired you to enter into public service? My public service begins with my serving in the U.S. Army, which is rooted in a family legacy of military service that dates back to both of my grandfathers’ service in WWII. I often remember my grandfather telling me stories about his service to our country during a time when people of color were still fighting for basic civil rights, yet he courageously fought in combat on the beaches of Normandy to protect this nation. His example inspired me to serve and ultimately become a civil servant.

My other inspiration was my grandmother’s service as the first Black clerk elected to the circuit court in 1967. While she graduated as Salutatorian in her high school class, she never had the opportunity to attend college or obtain any formal academic training. Yet, she made history and became an inspiration for many. Public service is a calling that connects me to a greater purpose than myself, and it is an honor to continue the legacy of service in my family.

What is your favorite class you have ever taught or taken and why? Some years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a cycling class that I thoroughly enjoyed. This cycle studio became a sanctuary not just for fitness but, a fun and invigorating experience that provided me the opportunity to work out with others. The class was really a beacon of joy that provided camaraderie, mental rejuvenation, and stress release.

What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing public policy or public administration as a career? I would tell those interested in a career in public administration to be the change that you want to see and to stay curious. A career in public administration will allow you to measurably impact and improve the lives of all. Public service is purpose-driven work and if we work together, we all can win.

What area of public policy interests you the most and why? Economic policy is one area that is of most interest to me. I believe that somewhere at the intersection of tax strategies, fiscal measures, and equitable monetary decisions there is potential to address systematic disparities, foster innovation, and create sustainable jobs. Economic empowerment can lift communities from the depths of poverty and unlock the door for a more equitable distribution of resources and opportunities. Prosperity should not be confined to a privileged few but accessible to all people and I believe strong economic policy can achieve this outcome. When the least of us rise, we all rise.

What is your favorite cuisine? Growing up, my taste buds were introduced to an assortment of flavors that began a love for Southern soul food that I still appreciate and enjoy today. Particularly, crispy southern fried chicken and homemade rolls were a Sunday dinner tradition in my family. The cuisine not only satisfies the taste buds but serves as a tangible link to numerous positive memories from my upbringing.

What is your favorite hobby or activity that you enjoy doing in your free time? In the simplicity of a country boy’s oasis, the dense woods and open country fields became my sanctuary at an early age. I can spend hours in the peaceful embrace of the outdoors, usually enjoying the art of hunting and fishing but sometimes just simply walking and exploring nature. The peacefulness of the outdoors always provides a break from the complexities of life.

Who in your life has been an influential mentor or inspiration for you? Hands down, my father has been my most influential mentor and inspiration. As a career public servant with over 40 years as the Director of Social Services in my hometown, he demonstrated the impact that positive leadership can have on a community. Much of who I am and what I have been able to accomplish is by the grace of God but, also my father’s mentorship and the significant investment of time into my overall development. He capitalized on every opportunity to ensure I had exposure to many opportunities and ensured I was well-rounded as a young man and professional. If he didn’t know about a particular subject or area, he would connect me with someone who did. This created self-confidence but, also the humility to always make sure my servant towel is bigger than my ego. Finally, he taught me to always move forward because moving backward is not an option and standing still is not enough.

What was your dream job as a child? My fascination with building things, tinkering with anything mechanical, and simple curiosity about how things worked led towards my dream of becoming an engineer as a child.

									 Byron Adkins
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