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News | Aug. 3, 2020

WOC Conference Will Honor FRCSW Employee

By Jim Markle

VIRIN: 200803-N-ZZ252-0474
VIRIN: 200803-N-ZZ252-0473

Priscilla Ford, a Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) workforce development specialist, will be honored during the 2020 Women of Color (WOC) Sciences, Technologies, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Hybrid conference Oct. 8-10 in Detroit.

Ford will receive the Community Service in Government Award for her work with children from lower socio-economic areas of San Diego.

"I was super excited that I was chosen out of the many extremely qualified and established nominees," she said. "I do what I do because I love my community and to be recognized for that on a national level is so overwhelming that I am still trying to digest it."

For more than 15 years, Ford has served as president of the Mercury San Diego Youth Track and Field Team (MSDYTF), a non-profit organization she created with other parents in 2002 to use as a vehicle to encourage responsible choices and healthy lifestyles among young people.

"I never did track and field, because I'm not a good runner. However, I've always loved to watch the Olympics so when my husband (Edward) signed our daughter up for track at the age of six, I was excited," she said.

The MSDYTF formed at the end of that season with about 20 athletes from five to 16 years old.

In 2003, the program participated in its first event, held in San Diego by the Florence Joyner International Youth Team at Hoover High School.

Since then, the MSDYTF has grown by more than 100 members to become the largest track team for young athletes in San Diego County.

Depending on their age, the teams members compete in virtually every track and field event. Some have become Youth National Champions in discus, shot put and the javelin.

"We have 10 coaches on our team with my husband being the head coach. I do not coach, but assist when needed at track meets. I am a United Stated of America Track & Field (USATF) Certified Official so I can officiate on the youth, high school and NCAA level.  However, my main duty is to oversee the overall operation of the team," Ford said.

From working with the IRS to establish nonprofit status, to organizing track meets and writing grants for the teams travel and equipment, Ford has dedicated much of her free time to the program's success, and more importantly, to its athletes.

To expand the athletic experience, seasons are planned to ensure the team competes in the National Championships or the Junior Olympics. The annual events are held throughout the country, from Sacramento to Lawrence, Kan., and as far south as Miami.

In addition to working with hotels and airlines for affordable accommodations and flights, Ford also arranges tours of colleges to promote the value of education to her athletes.

Some of the teams members have earned track and field scholarships to attend college, while others are Olympic and NFL candidates.

A native San Diegan, education played a significant role in Ford's upbringing. Her father was a graduate of Alabama A&M University and her mother served as a community counselor for the San Diego Unified School District.

Ford joined FRCSW in 1987 as an engineering intern, and became a permanent employee after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from San Diego State University.

She worked in the command's Research and Development Department as a project lead in the Test Program Set and Development Group, and as the Individual Material Readiness List (IMRL) Manager.

Last October she transferred to the Workforce Management Department.

"I work on the workforce development side and my focus is, but not limited to, assisting with training initiatives, processes, awards coordination, and as the editor-in-chief for the Workforce Management monthly newsletter," she said.

She also confers with the command's Diversity Advisory Teams and assists with recruiting.

She became the Naval Air Systems Commands (NAVAIR) African-American Pipelines Advisory Team (APAT) Site-Lead when the program formed in 2012.

APAT focuses on career planning, recruitment and retention of members from NAVAIRs African-American workforce through mentorship and lessons-learned programs.

In addition to the MSDYTF Ford devotes her off-duty time to the Diamond Community Investors (DCI) Advisory Counsel, where for the past 10 years, she has served as the organization's secretary and acting Vice-Chairperson.

The DCI is comprised of approximately 450 local investors from the Diamond Neighborhoods, a low-income area with a diverse minority population.

The DCI works with the Jacobs Family Foundation, a San Diego-based philanthropic organization, to invest in a $10 million shopping center called Market Creek Plaza.

A unique undertaking, Market Creek Plaza is a commercial and cultural center that is the first of its kind in the United States. It was designed, built and will eventually be owned by the Diamond Neighborhood residents. Among its shops is the first major grocery store in the area in more than 30 years.

"No matter how busy your schedule becomes, please try to find a way to volunteer in your community," Ford said. "A lot of these organizations are run by volunteers only. Giving back is one of the greatest rewards in life because it not only affects you, but those whom you helped for a lifetime."

Although the COVID-19 pandemic may prevent her from attending the WOC STEM conference and has cancelled the MSDYTF 2020 season, Ford and the teams athletes look forward to the 2021 season slated to begin next March.

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Veterans Day not only offers a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices of service members, but also serves as a poignant reminder of the price of liberty and the importance of acknowledging those who have borne its cost. This day reinforces the timeless truth: freedom is never free, and gratitude towards its guardians is eternally owed. Building on this spirit of reverence, organizations like Honor Flight San Diego (HFSD) work tirelessly to show tangible appreciation to these heroes.

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