I saw a distinct need. Many people coming off of active duty had no idea what kind of benefits they were eligible for. You'd be shocked how many don't apply because they don't know.
Cynthia Mason-Posey '78 has made it her life's mission to raise awareness around programs that can help people succeed. After 30 years in the active duty Army, Army Reserve and National Guard, Mason-Posey joined the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs in 2011. Her first role with the VA involved helping veterans learn about programs designed to give them a head start on civilian life.
"I saw a distinct need," Mason-Posey says. "Many people coming off of active duty had no idea what kind of benefits they were eligible for. You'd be shocked how many don't apply because they don't know."
Now, as deputy director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, Mason-Posey works with veterans who hope to do business with the VA. The VA runs the second-largest hospital network in the country, in 2014 spending more than $6 billion on small businesses alone, she says. It's her goal to direct as much of that spending as possible toward veteran-owned and service-disabled-veteran-owned businesses. Much of her daily work involves educating veterans about the procurement-bid process
"If you've never tried to do procurements with the federal government, it can be complicated and crazy," she explains. "It's about meeting them at their time and place of need."
Mason-Posey has also dedicated many of her free hours in recent years to Bucknell's Black Alumni Association board, which she chaired from 2009 to 2015. Her signature projects included raising awareness around the story of Edward McKnight Brawley, Class of 1875, M1878, who broke Bucknell's color barrier. This has resulted in an upswing in donations to the Brawley Fund, which supports opportunities for historically underrepresented students on campus.
Mason-Posey's aim is to build on Brawley's legacy, progressing toward a truly diverse and accepting college environment. "Coming back now, the atmosphere is a lot more accommodating," she says. "If I walk around campus, I see people who look like me. There are good things happening."