One of eight auditors with the Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit’s (OIEA) Federal State Audit Branch (FSAB), Linwood D. Pender, program auditor, has been with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for 27 years. He has also served his country in the U.S. Army, both active duty and as a reservist, for more than 32 years.

Background and education
Pender began his military career in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1988, the same year he started attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T). The grandson of sharecroppers, Pender has always been passionate about agriculture. As a child, he was very fond of animals and wanted to become a veterinarian. This passion led him to pursue a Bachelor of Animal Science degree from N.C. A&T.

Shortly after completing his degree in 1993, he joined FSIS as a poultry slaughter inspector in the Raleigh District and was later promoted to processing inspector. In 2003, Pender learned of an opening for an enforcement, investigations and analysis officer. His circuit supervisor encouraged him to apply, even though it meant a move from South Carolina to Maryland. Pender was selected for the position, which he held for five years. During that time, a number of his peers moved into program auditor positions and encouraged Pender to pursue one; he did and was promoted to program auditor in 2008.

Pender pursued a Master of Public Health degree from American Military University while both serving in the Army and working for FSIS, graduating in 2016. He selected the major he thought would best allow him to expand his options for career growth. Through the years, he has continued to increase his knowledge of food science and inspection through various coursework and training at Texas A&M University and Kansas State University.

Pender’s Role as FSAB Auditor
In his work with FSAB, Pender conducts audits of the State Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs and domestic FSIS office programs, as well as onsite reviews and desk audits of records, reports and other relevant documents to determine compliance with regulatory requirements. Pender’s MPI audits determine whether the state is able to maintain an MPI program “at least equal to” the Federal requirements. He works with state MPI senior officials, providing technical expertise in designing methods, protocols and procedures for reviewing and auditing federal and state MPI programs. He typically audits three or four states each year, with one or two requiring onsite visits to verify compliance.

FSIS empowers Pender to be successful in protecting public health through training, resources and team collaboration. “My co-workers are true team players and we always approach a task as a team,” he said.

Pender’s FSIS supervisor, FSAB Deputy Branch Chief, Dr. Jonathon Coleman, said, “Linwood is a humble and valued member of the FSAB family who is very dedicated to accomplishing the Agency’s food safety mission. Although he is a natural leader, Linwood frequently puts the team’s needs over his own. He can quickly identify and diplomatically propose solutions for overlooked work process gaps that may have inhibited the team from successfully completing their objectives. After working 13 years with Linwood as a colleague and now as a supervisor, I still find his unwavering commitment to fostering a culture of accountability to be invaluable and admirable.”

Three decades of military service
Last year, Pender retired from the U.S. Army Reserve. During his military career, he was qualified as an infantryman, transportation specialist, instructor, administrative specialist and veterinary food inspection specialist. Pender often stood in as an animal care specialist to assist the Army veterinarian in the care and treatment of animals. His experience with FSIS was invaluable to his position as an Army veterinary food inspection specialist.

His extensive military service included many calls to active duty, including deployments during Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. He led soldiers attached to Special Forces based in Iraq, Syria and Jordan and supported soldiers on the waterways of Qatar and the horn of Africa. During his military career, Pender earned numerous awards and decorations, certificates of achievement, letters of commendation and letters of appreciation.

His supervisor has made Pender’s transitions between FSIS and Army duties smooth. Pender said Dr. Coleman and the FSAB team were supportive and worked with him during his numerous deployments and trainings that required him to be away from his duty station. “Dr. Coleman eased my transition between the Agency and my military obligations by delegating my work assignments, and my FSAB teammates ensured tasks were completed on time during my absence. It was very much a collaborative effort of FSAB staff working together to get the job done,” said Pender.

Outside Interests
His retirement from the Army has not ended his commitment to service, as he is currently an ambassador for the Expiration Term of Service — Sponsorship Program (ETS-SP), a program established in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Army to sponsor soldiers through the transition process from military to civilian life. Pender is also an active member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and The Retired Enlisted Association.

He is also an active supporter of the Links to Freedom Golf Foundation which is dedicated to restoring a sense of normalcy to our Wounded Warriors, disabled veterans, their families and caregivers through rehabilitative and adaptive golf programs at military and civilian golf courses nationwide. Despite his classification as a severely handicapped amateur golfer, he loves a challenge on the course any day. Outside of golfing, he enjoys motorcycles, classic cars, fishing, boating – and a great cigar. Linwood and his wife, Theresa, have four adult children, six grandchildren and one spoiled Shih Tzu.

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