Organization of Professional Employees of the USDA

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Established in 1929, OPEDA (Organization of Professional Employees, U.S. Department of Agriculture) is an association of professional employees with the mission to enhance the effectiveness of members in the performance of their duties. It seeks to provide enlightened guidance and representation before Congress, the Administration, and other employee groups and organizations and the public on matters that promote the efficient and effective operation of agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. OPEDA is the only department-wide professional organization in USDA. Membership is open to all USDA employees and retirees regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, political beliefs, parental status, receipt of public assistance, or protected genetic information. Over two thirds of OPEDA’s members are located outside the Washington D.C., metro area.

OPEDA Working for You

For over 84 years OPEDA has worked to protect and advance USDA employee interests through organized and concerted effort. In keeping with this thrust, OPEDA officers and staff continue to work diligently for the economic and professional advancement of OPEDA members, helping them to serve with pride and dedication. Never has OPEDA’s commitment to serving its membership been stronger than it is today, providing an array of services that range from influencing pay legislation to encouraging review of change of unnecessarily restrictive policies. OPEDA works closely with several other professional and employee organizations and national coalitions to pursue matters of material interest to its members. This has made it possible for millions of professional employees to testify as one before Congressional Committees. What has OPEDA been doing for you?

  • OPEDA keeps its members informed through newsletters, alert mailings, e-mail, web site, and events.
  • OPEDA has been the foremost exponent of the principle of pay comparability-with-private industry and will continue its efforts in this regard, especially in pursuit of compliance with the Pay Comparability Act of 1990.
  • OPEDA was instrumental in gaining increased annuities for retirees and their survivors, and has been active in efforts to gain equal treatment for women in these benefits.
  • OPEDA voiced strong opposition to House and Senate Budget Resolutions to change the federal annuity computation from the highest three years of salary to the highest five.
  • OPEDA protested a House proposal to raise employee contributions to retirement by 2.5 percent.
  • OPEDA urged key Representatives to oppose a plan to shift health care premium increases to federal employees, absolving the government of responsibility to held hold down health cost increases.
  • OPEDA was a pioneer in advancing optional retirement at full annuity at age 55 after 30 years of service, with became law in 1966.


OPEDA's scholarship announced in MYUSDA      http://www.dm.usda.gov/docs/news/August 2014.pdf

Unsung Hero Award Program


Since 1985, through the Unsung Hero Award Program, OPEDA in a growing partnership with the USDA has celebrated Public Service Recognition Week, honoring employees who have demonstrated extraordinary service to the public and dedication to fulfilling the USDA’s mission.  On May 7, 2014, the Department held its 30th Annual Unsung Hero Award Program.  During the 2014 program, fifteen (15) Unsung Heroes, including two teams and 23 honorable mentions were honored at our USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Honorees and guests joined by agency officials gathered from across the nation and as far as from Mexico City, Mexico to recognize and show appreciation of the extraordinary public service accomplishments of the Unsung Heroes, Honorable Mentions, and other USDA employees.

Secretary Vilsack greeted each honoree and expressed warmly, “I feel honored and privileged to be here today to meet the folks who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, but I see them as representatives of the 97,000 folks who work here at the USDA and I am extraordinarily proud of all who work here”.  Through the efforts of many, we are able to celebrate our successes of the USDA and furthering of the Secretary’s Cultural Transformation Program and Strike Force efforts.

For more information on the Unsung Hero Award Program, please visit the OPEDA web site at http://opeda.org/ which is under construction, or read the excellent article by the Federal Times at http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140508/MGMT02/305080014/Agriculture-celebrates-unsung-heroes to read Agriculture Celebrates Unsung Heroes

2014 Unsung Heroes Group Photo

2014 Unsung Heroes

  • Cecil Salazar, DC-AMS
  • Darya Chehrezad, Mexico-APHIS
  • Patricia Bartling, CO-ARS
  • Lloyd Billey, ND-ARS
  • Betty Jenkins, DC-DM
  • Harold Whitlow, DC-DM
  • Big Piney Ranger District Team, AR-FS
  • Interagency Response Team, WA-FS
  • Dianna McKinley, MT- FS
  • Allen Austin, VA-FN
  • Meryl Broussard, DC-NIFA
  • John Oiestad, MT-NRCS
  • Tracie Kelley, TX-NRCS
  • Trina George, MS-RD
  • Cornell Webb, MO-RMA

Included in this issue: a message from OPEDA President, Louis Iacoletti,  information on the OPEDA office relocation, feds feed families, legislative activities, The Unsung Hero Award Program, Mentoring Opportunities, The OPEDA Scholarship Program, and membership.

          OPEDA January 2015 NewsletterOPEDA newsletter January2015v4.pdf
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OPEDA Hosts Webinar Series

Building Your Financial Security with 
USDA – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) National Program Leader Susan S. Shockey, Ph.D., CFCS, CPFFE

Managing Money in Tough Times: http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/managing-money-in-tough-times/
Stop Spending Leaks:  Options for Resourceful Living: http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/stop-spending-leaks-options-for-resourceful-living/
Obstacles, Resources, and Attitudes Toward Money: Develop Your Budget and Spending Plan: http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/obstacles-resources-and-attitudes-towards-money/
Your Financial Plan (Net Worth and Financial Records): http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/your-financial-plan-net-worth-and-financial-records/
Making Your Money Work for You: http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/investing-making-your-money-work-for-you/
Financial Recovery “One Step at a Time”

Let's Talk Telework! with USDA Human Capital Policy Strategist and Work/Life Leader Mika Cross

Ten Things I hate About Telework: http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/ten-things-i-hate-about-telework/
Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation: http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/telework-as-a-reasonable-accommodation/
What's in it for me? Supervisor Best Practices: http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/whats-in-it-for-me-supervisor-best-practices/
What’s in it for me? Employee Best Practices in Telework: http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/whats-in-it-for-me-employee-best-practices/
The Tools and Technology of Telework: http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/the-tools-and-technology-of-telework/
The ROI of Telework: http://tmgov.org/tmgovu/course/the-roi-of-telework/


Board Members 2012-2015

Louis Iacoletti, President

Dr. Dora (Holly) Hambley-Hayes, Executive Director

Edward Dickerhoof, Executive Vice President (VP)

Fred Kaplan, Treasurer

Teresa Pickett, Membership VP and Region 7 Council Member

Richard Fierroz, Public Service VP

Carolyn Thorpe, Professionalism VP

Mika Cross, VP for Strategic Workplace Solutions and Work/Life Initiatives

Mark Benedict, Member Services VP

Council Members

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