Sunday, December 11, 2011

Today's Out Spotlight is the highest-ranking openly gay federal employee in U.S. history as the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). He has stood on both poles of The Earth and has a mountain named after him. Today's Out Spotlight is John Berry.

John Berry was born in Rockville, Maryland,February 10, 1959, the son of two career federal government employees. His father served in the U.S. Marine Corps and his mother worked for the U.S. Census Bureau. One of three children, Berry graduated from high school in 1977 and finished his Bachelor of Arts in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1980. The next year, Berry graduated from Syracuse University with a Masters of Public Administration.

Starting out his career in state government, where he served from until 1985, he moved on to a career in the federal system. His first federal government job was as legislative director for U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer and associate staffer on the House Appropriations Committee from 1985 to 1994. Berry assisted Hoyer on employment issues of the federal government, and played a leading role in negotiations that led to the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990, which established the locality pay system.

Thereafter, from 1994 to 1995, Berry served as Deputy Assistant Secretary and acting Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement in the U.S. Treasury Department.

Then he served two years as Director of Government relations at the Smithsonian Institution. Berry was then appointed Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior in the Clinton administration, from 1997 to 2001.

At the Interior Department, Berry improved oversaw the expansion of department programs to improve employees' work-life balance, and held town hall meetings with Interior employees and used their suggestions to upgrade their work experience. He also worked to create a complaint procedure for employees who experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation, to expand relocation benefits and counseling services to domestic partners of employees, to establish a liaison to gay and lesbian workers, and to eliminate discriminatory provisions of the National Park Service's law enforcement standards.

He also helped establish an office supply store for Interior employees, which he staffed with disabled workers. Berry oversaw one of the largest budgetary increases in the department's history.

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Berry pursued his interest in environmental conservation as the director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and subsequently as director of the National Zoo.

As director he worked with Interior Inspector General Earl Devaney to reconcile twenty years of financial records, improve management, and conserve wildlife habitat through public-private partnerships.

On October 1, 2005, he was appointed from to serve as director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, which had been found to have shortcomings in record keeping and maintenance. Berry created a strategic planning and modernization process for the zoo.This included a twenty year capital plan, securing $35 million in funding to provide for fire protection, and beginning renovations to animal houses.

In 2009, President Obama nominated Berry to his current position as director of the Office of Personnel Management on March 4, 2009. The nomination hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on March 26, 2009, led to expectation of easy confirmation, despite opposition from conservatives based on Berry's sexual orientation. In the hearing he stated he supported any effective employee compensation system, but that the federal government had the obligation to give employees with comparable job performances similar pay and treatment. He pledged to preserve veterans preference and supplement it with training programs to prepare veterans for federal jobs, and promised reviews of proposals to improve the security clearance and hiring processes. He also emphasized the importance for agencies to use all recruitment tools, citing relocation benefits that could keep agencies competitive with the private sector, and stated he would create a strategic plan and set performance goals for the Office of Personnel Management. Berry had already previously stated he supported benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees and a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

After being confirmed by the Senate in April, he became responsible for managing the human resources of the federal government and is responsible for recruiting, hiring and benefits policies for 1.9 million federal employees. This appointment made him the highest appointed
openly gay federal employee in the U.S.

With his appointment came accolades from the LGBT and mainstream communities. “The selection of John Berry is a meaningful step forward for the LGBT community,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Humans Rights Campaign. John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, described Berry as the “perfect choice for the OPM. He’s smart, courageous, and has all the right experience in policy and in politics.”

That same year, Berry served as the keynote speaker for the International Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference in San Francisco.

Berry’s government career has taken him around the globe and literally to the ends of the earth. He is one of the few Americans to have stood on both the North and South Poles. There is a mountain in Antarctica named after him known as the Berry Bastion.

He and his partner of over a decade, Curtis Yee, make their home in Washington, D.C.

“Each time we act against discrimination, we add a ring of life to the American tree of liberty.”

A Special Austin in Israel Update:

Today Austin and their group visited Masada, the fortress rising above the Dead Sea where the last Jewish fighters held out against Rome for three years until they met their tragic end in the Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire. Masada has become a modern symbol of Jewish survival.Then they went below sea level to experience the Dead Sea.


The Dead Sea is not only known for the incredible buoyancy of is salty waters, but the effect it's mud has on the skin.Looks like the guys got down to their 'roos and were "muddin up 4 soft skin"


prairiegirl said...

Is that Austin to the left of the guy in the purple briefs? Or is that the guy who looks just like him?

I swear, you are right, Special. Look how much that guy looks like him in the picture above. I can't tell for sure which one is Austin exactly but I think it is the one in black.

I don't think this one guy in mud is Austin - he is too fleshy around his middle. Or is it?

LOL! Look at that guy in the purple underoos.

prairiegirl said...

I had seen the tweet where a guy said he had wanted to see the guys in mud, including @Aus10Nichols. Is there some kind of tradition about the mud around the Dead Sea?

the real m said...

Quite an impressive list of accomplishments for today's spotlight.

I read elsewhere that Rick Perry's stupid anti gay ad is taking more flack since the music that accompanied it was by gay composer Aaron Copland. What an idiot.

Jake's appearance the last few years make it pretty obvious he is not on the market for a mate looking like that. Just one more piece of evidence of his being married and in a long term relationship with Austin.

Special K said...

That is Austin in the mud picture.
Justin is the one in the purple 'roos. Greg is on the far left, and Shaun is next to Ryan. (Maybe he is enjoying all the great food in Israel before he heads home to the House of Kale)

MaryLynn and her husband who looks like Austin's lost twin had a picture snapped of just the two of them all muddy.

In the group shot at Masada, Austin is actually standing between MaryLynn and Matt.

Man! those guys look like brothers.

And the mud at the Dead Sea is known for making your skin super soft.

Charm el Chic said...

Wonderful Spotlight! :)

destiny said...

I totally agree PG and M about Jake and his appearance. I don't like beards, but at least when he's doing "work" he has it short and neatly trimmed. The rest of the time it looks like he has done nothing with it, and personally I find the unkempt hipster look to be a total turnoff, and I'm assuming most fans don't like that look either because how many movie stars do you see on the screen looking that way unless they're playing a historical figure or it's called for by the role. Especially films directed at women, like romcoms. Brad Pitt took a lot of digs when he briefly ran around looking like a homeless man.

Then there's just the whole way Jake seems to largely avoid industry events like the plague, so he sure doesn't seem to be doing any networking either.

Sometimes I just get the feeling he's flipping off HW and all his fans, and yet he probably wonders why he isn't getting work, and seems to be blind to the effect his behavior has.

AUS10 said...

The Ancient City of Massada.
1 hour ago

Twitter from Israel said...

@AUS10NICHOLS was so nice meeting you last night! Thanks for taking time to talk to us :)
8 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone

destiny said...

I love Austin's photos, they look almost like paintings, and really like the jagged edges he's using.

prairiegirl said...

And I find this really interesting that right when Austin is out of the country, someone on Twitter this specific weekend chooses to spread two outrageous rumors about Austin & Sophia. One, that they are engaged and now Two, that Sophia is pregnant.

OTHFan2003 Shantel
@GNightTreeHill NO!! I saw it on a twitter page. Why would you even think that. I would never.
5 hours ago

OTHFan2003 Shantel
@sophiabush is pregnant!! IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHH
5 hours ago

OTHFan2003 Shantel
@kitkatkels23 @kathryn_eurms @SVSlove @kanitydane1014 @bulldog2332 Did you hear that @SophiaBush is PREGNANT?
5 hours ago
OTHFan2003 Shantel
@SophiaBush if you really are pregnant, I think you should name it Brooke, if it's a girl and Julian if it's a boy!
5 hours ago

OTHFan2003 Shantel
@SophiaBush are you pregnant?! :o RT "@TheLeeNorris: @SophiaBush and @AUS10NICHOLS are expecting their first child together!"
5 hours ago

Sophia has already denied the engagement rumor but she better nip this baby one in the bud like right now.

If the CW is the one holding these 2 in a fake relationship shackle or even if not, then someone needs to take the bull by the horns.

Today, a totally ridiculous video was sent to both Austin and Sophia made up of a montage of pictures & love messages from a bunch of OTH girls. It's full of pictures of those 2 in their wedding episode, all of their "personal" photo ops and covered in teleprompter hearts and other Hobby Lobby art.

These OTH people are on a snowball that will not end until these 2 announce either one or the other: either that they're engaged or that they're kaput.

These girls would be mortifed to know that they are drawing little hearts around their Sophia and a man who is not only unavailable, but is married and has a brood of children.

This is just totally ridiculous.

Want to see the video? Here it is (I only made it through 1/2 of it. Sick Bucket required:

If They Only Knew

prairiegirl said...

LOL, I was so irritated, I typed "on a snowball" instead of "a snowball roll".

Of course, Sophia is also out of the country, on her way back from Laos so somebody specifically picked this weekend to stir all of this up.

There are a few fans trying to tell others the account is fake. I can't believe those people.

Just really sad. So sad, I guess you could see it as funny but that @TheLeeNorris person is just out of control. You can't have someone out there spreading blatant lies like that.

Fangurls are all the same said...

There's no difference between a OTH fangurl and OMG fangurls. You are spreading rumors that Austin is gay, married and has FIVE kids. No different to the OTH chicks asking if Sophia is engaged and pregnant. But of course you won't get off ya high horse to see that you are the same!

It is what it is said...

I see sanctimonous Trolly is back again. There would be a huge difference. OMG hardly has fangirls or fanboys because the guys are criticized often enough and critical thinking is applied to events routinely. No one creates a bogus Twitter account and makes up a fact without any basis for the assertion. To tweet that Sophia and Austin are engaged and pregnant, based on absolutely nothing hardly compares to the vast amount of information that has been gathered for nearly 10 years now.

Moreover, since you follow this blog night and day, you would know that Jake and Austin have given their own clues, throughout the years, that they are gay and still together. And, frankly, even if there already weren't many, many other indicators, those two Audi Q7s last year sealed the deal for me about them having several children. How many, I don't know. But, there's definitely more than one.

Special K said...

Jack your slip is showing.

Special K said...

My comment was for the Fangurl at 10:25.

sanctimonous Trolly said...

vast amount of information


Special K said...

Austin uses the aps on his Iphone to full advantage taking some great pictures on his trip.

While everyone else takes snaps of themselves he really uses his director's eye to capture the beauty of what he is seeing. I can only imagine all beautiful pictures he got on his trip and is going to share with Jake and the kids and family and friends.

Sanctis Soulmate said...

Hey Sanctimonous Trolly , don't bother . I've tried to explain it to them for close to a year , the babble blog , OMG and WFT2 , same craziness different agenda

Twitter from Israel said...

Greg Grunberg
Dead Sea was INCREDIBLE floating w/@rajskub @justingchatwin @aus10nichols #aviisrael too much fun.
4 hours ago

tweet said...

<Inbal Hotel
@inbalhotel Inbal Hotel
Was sincerely a pleasure to host you all, please come back soon! @greggrunberg @rajskub @justingchatwin @aus10nichols #aviisrael
4 hours ago via TweetDeck

tweet said...

jonmedved jonmedved
@AUS10NICHOLS nice job austin....was great meeting you...
26 minutes ago

AUS10 said...

Press Conference this morning. Overall message. Let's promote peace.
4 hours ago

Methodical Muser said...

I love the way these Toothy and Goose nonbelievers continue to appear at a blog they insist is full of loonies. Years of fauxmances, PR driven photo ops, mistakes caught on camera, and manufactured stories must drive them crazy, with the whole Taylor Swift nonsense the final nail in that coffin. If clear-headed people didn't think Jake was gay after that major fiasco, an optometrist visit might be in order to correct what is an obvious vision impairment. Including the ridiculous photoshop pic of Swift with Maggie and Ramona. Funny how trolls just ignore these instances of flagrant mendacity and public manipulation.

Deep down they also know that Ted could have moved on long ago. The Twihards are his claim to fame now, yet he sticks to his guns regarding Jake, Austin and the Familly Tile intrigue. He knows the parenting aspect of the story is the most conroversial part of the legend, but he never backs off, and Jake sure doesn't do anything to stop him either.

I missed out on the discussion about Jake's appearance, but anyone with eyes can see how much Jake has changed since he has gone deep into the closet. Particularly, after his promotion for Prince of Persia. There was no doubt that he had to sell a large part of his soul for that franchise opportunity. Appearing with Austin immediately after the PoP premiere and then driving around in those Q7s that were mentioned earlier showed how much Jake had been shackled by the industry, and other homophobic bottom feeders.

Selling a public image that is fundamentally false for over 4 years takes it's toll. Jake used to be a study in lightness and earnestness. There's was a time like during the Brokeback years where he literally glowed and thrum with energy and excitement. I can't believe that his self esteem has not suffered as a result of all this pretense because deep down he knows that anything he achieves is based on a lie. Constant hiding creates difficulties in accurately assessing other people’s perceptions of one’s strengths. Actual accomplishments are diminished because who knows if praise is based on what one's real abilities are or the deception being perpetrated.

Special K said...

Austin and the group had a press conference at their hotel this morning.

inbalhotel Inbal Hotel
Morning press conference with #actors @greggrunberg &@rajskub &@Justingchatwin &@AUS10NICHOLS &@ssipos on terrace
51 minutes ago

They stayed at the Inbal Hotel, a 5 start hotel in the center of Jerusalem.
Inbal Hotel

prairiegirl said...

Jake's guy is headed home. While I enjoyed seeing his pictures and seeing the tweets about the trip, I am sure that Jake is ecstatic that his guy is on his way back.

Well said, M&M. Totally agree. And while I didn't mean to stir up such an exchange the other day, I was just trying to make the point that I just have not understood the drastic change.

But I'll leave it alone. It doesn't stop me from rooting for these 2 guys and I bet that Jake is still the intriguing, great guy that I thought I saw several years ago when I first came to this blog. I just have to deal with the public Jake that we're given now and that is just the way it is. But I still like him and there is still no other male celeb that I'm nearly as interested in and now I just find myself interested in both his & Austin's story because it is an incredible one.

Special K said...

This is interesting.

The site OMGICU has a sighting and a picture of Jake at La Colombe this morning.

Jake Gyllenhaal spotted hanging out at La Colombe in Tribeca this morning!

But when you click on the source tweet for the sighting and the pic it leads you back to their site.

And then what they did is sent the tweet to people who mentioned Jake in their tweets (not exclusive to seeing Jake - just his name is in their tweets)over and over almost seeming to make it appear that he was seen by all these people.

Two more things, if you notice the link end in it which looks like it going through a server in Italy. And second, they have deal with the ap sneakyphone that will let you look like you are talking on the phone and take 4 pictures for you and send them directly to them.

What ever day this picture was take it looks like Jake was where a splash of red under his dark jacket

prairiegirl said...

There's just all kinds of odd things going on in twitter with regards to these 2 guys lately, isn't there?

There wasn't a peep on Jake yesterday. I found that very interesting.

Methodical Muser said...

It doesn't stop me from rooting for these 2 guys and I bet that Jake is still the intriguing, great guy that I thought I saw several years ago when I first came to this blog. I just have to deal with the public Jake that we're given now and that is just the way it is. But I still like him and there is still no other male celeb that I'm nearly as interested in and now I just find myself interested in both his & Austin's story because it is an incredible one.

I agree completely, PG.