Lead From Where You Are
Vol.9 Issue 3

Angelia G. Neal is the current Assistant Administrator for the FAA’s Office of HR Management, but she started her federal career 23 years ago as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF). Like the Gateways program, the PMF program is a pathway into federal employment managed and administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). It’s geared toward individuals with advanced degrees, who are interested in public service and have leadership potential. Neal more than qualified as a candidate with a master’s degree from Colorado State University. After graduate school, she came to the D.C. area with her high school sweetheart, and soon to be husband, who was starting a federal career of his own. Her first federal position was at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she worked several positions over the course of 12 years. After that, she transferred to Homeland Security in 2012 where she worked until she joined the FAA in 2021.

Angelia G. Neal

Her career at the FAA has been a whirlwind. She was hired on as the Deputy Assistant Administrator in October 2021 and only a few short months later, was asked by former FAA Administrator, Steve Dixon, to act as the Assistant Administrator for HR Management after Annie Andrews’ retirement. In September of 2022, she permanently entered the role. She provides the executive level oversight for all HR functions within the FAA. She works alongside 500 HR professionals who are committed to managing the employee life cycle and "taking care of the people who make it safe to fly." Serving as advisor to the Administrator Billy Nolen (Acting since April 2022), Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims, and the Executive Team of the Management Board she states, "we’re often in conversations strategizing around the people of the FAA and how to ensure we are promoting and creating a work environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging and a place where they can grow and thrive."

Neal plays an important role in the future of the FAA, and she has a very positive outlook on it. When thinking about new entrants to the National Airspace System (NAS), she sees many similarities to the early 1960’s television show The Jetsons. "I’m excited that we get to be a part of identifying the skillsets that will be necessary for us to make this future of FAA a reality; supporting the dedicated professionals who show up every day to ensure people, goods and services make it across the NAS safely - every minute of the day." For HR, this means making sure the right people with the right skillsets are hired to support this new and ever-changing technology.

According to Neal, gone are the days when we could simply post an announcement to USA jobs and get a qualified pool of candidates. Recruiting starts early with our long-standing STEM AVSED Program. This Program was developed to encourage kids at a young age to start considering a possible future career in Aviation and Science. Unless you know someone in the Federal Government, or have always wanted to work in the Government, you may not know about USA jobs. For Neal, this means getting creative with other HR officials on how to reach a wider audience. Recently, the FAA partnered with influencers on TikTok and other social media platforms to promote an Air Traffic Control announcement and received an unprecedented number of applications. Angelia states, "If we’re trying to attract individuals to the FAA and to the work that we are doing, we have to be creative in our job announcements. We have recently implemented some creative tactics to attract folks. I think that’s what we must continue. We must also simplify the hiring process. Oftentimes we have good candidates who get taken out of the running because of a misstep in the application process. A lot of these personnel laws were put into place ages ago for good reason; however, times are changing, and we have to be agile in order to be competitive."

Quote from Angelia G. Neal

For those of us just starting out in our career or making big decisions for the direction of our career, Neal has some great advice. "Regardless of what your career path will be in the agency, I think my advice would be the same for everyone, and that’s to be very intentional about managing your brand." She states that managing your brand is key, and that means "treating people with respect, ensuring your work products are done in an excellent manner. Ensure your brand speaks well of you when you’re not in a room to speak for yourself."

She also recommends getting a mentor. The FAA has great programs such as the Professional Women Controllers National Mentor Program, to help set you up with a mentor and provide "development opportunities" to FAA employees. Neal states that even among executive leaders, there can be a lot of finger pointing. It’s important to start a practice of self-reflection and self-awareness to "really be intentional about bringing about the change that we may need personally in order to excel in our careers." Something Neal has put into practice in her career is getting to know the organization she is with. Learning about your team, your organization, and your job are important to the success of your career. Although with her 20-plus years of experience in the federal field, she has a lot she could share, she ends with this piece of advice: "Lead where you are. You don’t have to have a title to lead. Leadership is more about influence and serving others than it is about some block on an org chart. You really can lead from wherever you are by being a person of influence, a person of integrity, and sharing your thoughts and ideas about how to make positive improvements, how to affect change in a constructive manner."

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