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Cassondra Woodward Searight Named the First Fulltime Diversity and Inclusion Officer in US DSS

Congratulations are in order for our very own Cassondra L. Woodward Searight as she is named the first fulltime permanent Diversity and Inclusion Officer in the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). Cassondra is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of N.C. and she is from the Prospect community.

Cassondra is the granddaughter of Clem and Mary Mandy Clark (both deceased) of Prospect and daughter of James and Ruth Carol Woodward (both deceased). Earlier in her career, she served nearly a decade in the U.S. Navy, traveling throughout the world in multiple leadership roles.

Cassondra joined DSS after serving as a program manager at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service. She has worked in the diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility space for more than 10 years, with experience in recruitment, outreach, public affairs, and civil rights.

“DSS is committed to ensuring that critical perspectives and talents are represented in the national security workforce, and we know, through experience and research, that diverse teams perform better,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Carlos Matus, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service. “It is vital that we attract new personnel from a diverse talent pool and create a workplace culture that cultivates that talent to help solve the complex issues facing DSS and the Department.”

In her new role, Cassondra will develop and implement a DSS-wide diversity and inclusion strategic plan, provide overall management to help achieve equitable opportunities for DSS employees, track the full range of DSS diversity and inclusion activities, and ensure coordination with the DSS Council for Diversity and Inclusion and alignment with other groups within the State Department.

“My future plans include developing and delivering training courses for DSS leadership and employees to build awareness of unconscious biases, as well as introduce tools and practices to support and advance the diversification of our workforce,” said Searight. “My ultimate goal is to bring forth recommendations to our leadership team to further our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.”

Cassondra holds an MBA degree from George Mason University, an MA degree in public administration from Ashford University, and a BA degree in management from the University of Phoenix. She is the mother of three daughters.


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