Celebrating Women’s History Month: Spotlight on Helen Davis
Vol.8 Issue 3

Women’s History Month offers us the opportunity to celebrate the achievements and contributions from women to our National Airspace System. Helen Davis, Enterprise Architect in the Enterprise Services Center and Vice-President of the Technical Women’s Organization, is one of these women.

Helen Davis, Enterprise Architect in the Enterprise Services Center (AMK-252) and Vice-President of the Technical Women’s Organization (TWO)

To Helen, Women’s History Month means that all individuals get to recognize and celebrate pioneering females who have taken steps or achieved equality in addition to diversity to provide best options to groups. She credits females who have laid a path for women worldwide to follow: Margaret Wilcox who invented the car heater; Harriet Tubman, the first woman to lead an armed military operation in the U.S.; Hazel Ying as the first Chinese-American pilot who flew in the WASPs during WW II; Hattie McDaniel who became the first African American to win an Academy Award; Marcenia Lyle Stone, (also known as Toni Stone) as the first woman to play big-league professional baseball; French Baroness, Raymonde de Laroche, as the first female in the world to receive a pilot’s license and in 1919 set the record for Highest Altitude Flown by a woman; and Lindy Ritz who became the first female MMAC Director.

Helen believes that women can best support other women by encouraging others to step out of their comfort zones to try something different. "I just learned one of FAA’s ’First’ lady leaders was ’introduced’ to areas via details that lead to both education and surprisingly new opportunities, which she was not aware of and wasn’t sure she would even appreciate. These turned out to be enjoyable opportunities that she may not have considered previously," explains Davis.

She says that females (as well as males) can help other women with communication by listening to concerns. Reassuring one another that all women can learn. Whether they fail during a specific effort, become delayed in their achievements, or are successful, they can learn from all experiences to move forward in life and their career journeys. FAA employees and contractors are fortunate to be able to learn from some "First" leaders and many others through Technical Women’s Organization (TWO) and FAA’s Federal Women’s Program events.

When asked what qualities make a great female leader, Davis responds with, "I find I listen to and follow more leaders - especially female leaders - who are empathetic and follow John Loblack’s description of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders." While she may even find something to learn from negative experiences, Davis especially lends an ear toward individuals who actively engage others.

Emotionally intelligent LEADERS possess seven important qualities.

L is for Listening. Emotionally intelligent leaders place a higher value on listening than they do speaking.

E is for Equipping. Emotionally intelligent leaders equip their employees with the tools and resources necessary to fulfill their positions’ requirements effectively.

A is for Appreciation. Emotionally intelligent leaders appreciate the people they work with and invest time, effort and money to show their gratitude.

D is for Developing. Emotionally intelligent leaders know their employees are their most important asset. They consistently create development opportunities to help their people grow and advance.

E is for Enlisting. Emotionally intelligent leaders enlist support from others because they know that their employees and team members are critical to implementing change effectively and efficiently.

R is for Relationships. Emotionally intelligent leaders understand that their success or failure rests on the quality of their relationships with others. They invest heavily in building and deepening those professional relationships.

S is for Service. Emotionally intelligent leaders realize that they must first give the most to their employees in order to get the most from them. They constantly seek ways to serve their employees instead of waiting on employees to serve them.

Of all admirable female figures whom Davis has either read about or met throughout her life, she has been especially inspired by Barbara Bush and Lindy Ritz. Given their incredibly busy schedules, their vast knowledge, they still found time to kindly respond to inquiries or to give just a brief and genuine, "How are you?" For example, Helen recalls when Mrs. Bush called to a private business where Davis was working. Barbara inquired about a specific service, but also asked how the employees handled the service. This service was partially funded by the government, and she wanted to hear about it, the employees, and she wanted to visit the facility. Davis also had the rare opportunity to be in Mrs. Ritz’s office a few times to provide explanations on projects being worked. Davis says, "Ritz and her staff were always gracious and listened attentively, and helped me with a reference letter to submit for Harvard University. Neither of these ladies had to listen or engage me or others in conversation and would rightly excuse themselves for other scheduled actions, but they listened and engaged, and as a result, I will strive to be like them."

As a family historian and genealogist, Davis continues to learn how her family has played roles throughout the U.S. and world history. She appreciates the challenges her ancestors had to overcome to continue in pursuit of their goals and dreams. Davis is amazed by women, men, and children (but especially women) with each story she reads - about the challenges they had, and whether they overcame them or died trying. "I think individuals in today’s world are blessed to have luxuries such as running water, easily accessible food, toilets, heated vehicles to travel in, small computers to be entertained by, and other things we take for granted," Helen says.

Davis reflects, "I imagine that our ancestors would look upon us in amazement," while they used horse-hair brushes and had limited medical services (which were administered by the local saloon caretaker), among other crude amenities. She asserts that we have many blessings in 2022. Helen’s ancestors are a big inspiration for continuing toward her goals and dreams.

Women’s History Month – March

Davis wishes she would have learned earlier in her career that, while she had opportunities to "step into the unknown," and learn from areas that appeared to be scary (because there was so much to learn), to tell her younger self, "YOU ARE WORTH IT!" She wishes she would have learned earlier that she has value, and it may benefit other females and males, or even a group of individuals, to hear her point of view, and join in with their own sentiments. Helen has always valued others’ voices, but says she failed to see what value she brought to the proverbial table early on in her career. She would also tell her younger self that it is OK to not get things perfect and sometimes to fail, as long as you learn from the experience and use it to improve. Davis says, "Like a small child learning to walk, we may stumble occasionally, but we eventually learn to walk and run."

Federal Aviation Aministration (FAA) seal