PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- Maj. Alicia J. Johnson was the keynote speaker March 25 during a luncheon at the Cannon Gate Conference Center to celebrate Women's History Month. Johnson is a contract administrator with the Defense Contract Management Agency Springfield, which is based at Picatinny Arsenal.

The theme of Johnson's presentation was "Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment."

As part of her presentation, Johnson displayed the following quote from Helen Keller, an American author, political activist, and lecturer:

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

Keller was the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Her life was portrayed in the play and film, "The Miracle Worker."

Johnson named Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt as her favorite women.

In 1955, Parks refused a bus driver's order to give up her seat in the colored section of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, to a white passenger after the white section was filled.

Her act of defiance and court challenge of segregation laws are considered key events in the civil rights movement.

Johnson noted that Parks later lost her job, her husband was fired and she was forced to go live with her mother.

Roosevelt, the wife of president Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a political and social activist and one of the most active first ladies.

"She never backed down from her personal principles," Johnson said, noting the Roosevelt banned male reporters from her press conferences, thus helping to keep women reporters employed during the Great Depression.

Johnson also cited a number of other women she admired, saying "Everyone overcame something, either internal or external."
 •Sgt. Pamela Stenman, the first female non-commissioned officer in the military occupational specialty of Multiple Launch Rocket System Crewmember
 •Brig. Gen. Linda L. Singh Assistant Adjutant General - Army, Maryland National Guard, the first woman and first African- American to command the Maryland National Guard.
 •Maj. Gen. Nadja Y. West, the first active duty African-American two-star general in the United States Army Medical Command.
 •Lt. Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski assumed command of the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, the first female commander.
 •Adm. Michelle J. Howard, the Navy's first female four-star admiral and the first female and African-American to be nominated for the position of Vice Chief of Naval
 Operations, the service's No. 2 uniformed officer.

In concluding her presentation, Johnson left the audience with a number of personal "takeaways." •It doesn't matter how you begin
 •Character comes from trying
•You are a "brand"
•Build proper networks
 •Commit to whatever you do with high intention and sincere effort
 •Find mentors and advisors
 •You cannot master the pyramid of influence, power, and negotiating by yourself
•Don't let them tell you no
 •Be afraid, but go in anyway