BEYA 2019 honoree spotlight: Merinda Elliott-James
The 2019 Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. from Feb. 7-9. The conference is an annual opportunity for professional training and networking with some of the top engineering employers, as well as a career fair for students seeking professions in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). At this year's conference, 10 distinguished Leidos employees will be recognized for their career achievements. Each week leading up to BEYA, we'll profile two of our honorees here on Insights.
Merinda Elliott-James exemplifies the Leidos value of commitment. As one of the most versatile employees on the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System (DCPDS) team, her professional excellence is evident across all the departmental, technical, and functional activities that she supports. When asked what drives her professionally, her response is simple: “This is just a personal goal; a desire I have to be content with myself and my accomplishments.”
Merinda is passionate about the work she does, clearly validated by her 16-year career towards achieving team efficiencies and productivity in a rapidly changing, fast-moving information technology environment. She excels at her primary work, maintains an excellent relationship with the Department of Defense customer, and is a true contributor to the exceptional 4.8/5.0 average score the DCPDS team receives on Service Level Agreement measures and the ‘exceptional’ Contractor Performance Assessment Ratings.
While focused on completing objectives, Merinda also encourages others to seek new and innovative processes or approaches to solving the challenges posed in daily operations. Her peers can rely on her to complete her tasks on-time and to produce a product that is complete, effective, and addresses the issue at hand. Merinda sets high goals and delivers a quality product while valuing efficiency as well as cost effectiveness, and sets an exceptional example for others to emulate.
I'm humbled to find my name included in the ranks of so many outstanding individuals. BEYA recognition feels like an unexpected legacy gift that I want to ensure is passed on to the generations that follow mine.
Deeply rooted in her work ethic is an intense desire to help and share her talents with others. Outside the office, Merinda has devoted numerous hours to volunteerism efforts with local school districts, serving as a reading buddy and parent chaperone, as well as tutoring and mentoring students. As a champion of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) education, she has delivered Career Day presentations, mentored robotics teams, and judged science and engineering projects.
“My advice for students pursuing a STEM education is to be intentional about developing a comfort level with these disciplines,” she said. “Maybe you’re not naturally adept in those disciplines, but we all have a capacity for learning, even though our approaches may be different. Stay the course, because you open the door to endless possibilities across myriad opportunities when you develop competencies in these areas.”
In recognition of her exceptional professional accomplishments, Merinda will be honored with a Modern-Day Technology Leaders award at the 33rd annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference.