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News | April 28, 2022

After interagency detail, QA encourages women to join Quality field

By Jason Kaneshiro DCMA Eastern Region Public Affairs

A quality assurance specialist with Defense Contract Management Agency Naval Special Emphasis Operations recently demonstrated the agency’s value and competencies during a voluntary interagency detail.

Ramona Ross was detailed to Pecos, Texas, to support the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of the Refugee Resettlement, and Unaccompanied Children Program and their mission to resettle unaccompanied children who had entered the U.S. via the southern border.

“I initially went there as a volunteer for records management,” Ross said. “We were at a contractor facility, and my skill in enforcing contracts came into play as I guided the contractor in answering some of their questions about subcontractor obligations.”

She said it was a great experience.

“I got to work with people from all over the country and throughout different agencies,” Ross said. “We made lasting friendships to support that mission, and I think it was successful. I’m grateful that I had the chance to experience that mission and to use my DCMA skills to help them out.”

Ross’ federal career path began in 1985 as clerk typist for the Veterans Administration hospital at Providence, Rhode Island. She switched to a position working for the Navy and saw an advertisement for DCMA’s Keystone program and took that opportunity.

“I will say that when I became a QA 20-something years ago, the field was not easy to break into for women,” said Ross. “Today, the field has really opened up and is much more diverse.”

She said mentorship played a key role throughout her career success.

“I’ve had great mentors,” Ross said. “One was a high-ranking noncommissioned officer in the military. She became my mentor when I took a position as a QAS at DCMA. She taught me how to handle situations, and she taught me everything that I know. I’m very thankful for that.”

Ross said she also had many male mentors who were very good as well.

“At that time, men and women were really starting to learn to come together as QASs,” Ross said.

While the diversity of the Quality career field has changed during the last two decades, the mission objectives and opportunities for unique experiences remain the same.

"One of the proudest things I can say is that I (helped) get product(s) out to the warfighters," Ross said. “I got to do things I never would have gotten to do if I wasn’t a QAS.”

Her team’s mission and her work ensuring items and equipment are manufactured to set standards is important to Ross.

“Being part of NSEO, it has family meaning to me because my son is a submariner, and it means a lot to me to know that I’m doing what I’m doing to keep him safe,” Ross said.

Only around 10 percent of DCMA’s QA career field are women, and the agency is taking steps to encourage more women to enter the career field.