Cynthia J. Officer

Honored by:Fellow employees
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The February 18, 1994 Des Moines Register had this article I would like to share with you this morning...

Today as part of our Community Coffee we are acknowledging the contributions of some one who has made -- and continues to make -- a difference in our lives. Her name and the name of an honoree of her choice will be placed along with the names of other great women in the new "Plaza of Heroines."

With this over, two hundred people are saying to you, Cindy Officer, how much we appreciate what you are doing at John Deere -- and more so -- who you are for us.

Thank you, Cindy.


Cynthia J. Officer, Director Affirmative Action Deere & Company, has been nominated for the Plaza of Heroines by fellow employees in appreciation of her contributions to the Company and to them personally. In her words, "I've always wanted things in the Company to work. I've always wanted to be part of the best; so I always tried to do my job as though I was the best working for the best."

Born Cynthia Majors in Keokuk, Iowa, in 1943 to Carl and Mary Johnson Majors. Cindy was an only child. She describes her parents as generous and loving people who always saw larger possibilities for her than she saw for herself. They were people who "truly valued human beings in life, relationships, hard work, taking care of each other and contributing." (Please refer to the biography of Mary Johnson Majors.) She fell in love with Chuck Officer and was married shortly after she completed high school. In May 1963, she started with Deere. Christopher, their first child, was born prematurely and the family had tons of hospital bills.

She was hired into the stenopool at the corporate office in downtown Moline, Illinois, where her duties included running the elevator and serving lunch in the executive dining room. After one month, she began full-time in the Economic Research department performing librarian functions. Chuck left Moline to complete his education at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. When Cindy went to her boss to resign and move to Omaha so the family could be together, he did not accept her resignation. Instead, he arranged a transfer to the John Deere Omaha Sales Branch where she was to be the first black employee. Chuck went to school and Cindy worked. In 1964, maternity leave was considered a benefit available based on years of service. Cindy quit her job at the end of September 1964 just before the birth of their second child, Carla (ISU ‘86), because she was not eligible for a leave.

About this time, the family moved back to Moline. A manager at the John Deere Parts Depot in East Moline called Cindy and offered her a job; she started there in January 1965 and has worked full-time with Deere since then. She started college in 1967 and graduated twenty years later. She found her studies spurred their youngest child, Chip (ISU '93), to work hard in school as well. Cynthia Officer describes her early career as years in which she performed every clerical job.

It was when she was secretary to the manager of the John Deere East Moline Sales Branch that she gained exposure to the Company and an understanding of what the Company is about. In 1975 she took an opening in Personnel, transferring to Affirmative Action in 1976. In 1977 when Chuck was transferred to the John Deere Waterloo Tractor Works, she was transferred to the John Deere Waterloo Product Engineering Center where she worked as a Salary Administrator and then Manager Human Resources over the next fourteen years.

In February 1991, shortly after the death of her husband, Ms. Officer moved to Moline as Manager Affirmative Action Planning in the corporate Affirmative Action Department. In July 1992 she accepted the position of Director Affirmative Action to make company history as the first black woman executive. When she was offered the executive position, Ms. Officer was eligible to retire.

In making her decision to remain with the Company and take on more responsibility, she asked of herself and her department "What's possible if I stay? How do we get this Company to value diversity? What future are we creating? What do we want John Deere to be?" As an answer to these questions, Ms. Officer works to build community within the Company so that it is a great place to work. "We value and respect everybody. We work together and support each other. We create an environment where people can be all that they can be." To her fellow employees, Cindy is community, respect for all people, and creator of new possibilities.

-Submitted by fellow employees of John Deere