By April Haynes, OFO

In Alethea “Missy” Payton’s nearly 31-year career, she has advanced through FSIS in several in-plant positions: food inspector, consumer safety inspector (CSI) and supervisory CSI. She also was a resource management specialist (RMS) from 2017 to 2019 and again on a detail starting in 2023. In April 2024, she moved to the Jackson, Mississippi, district office to a permanent RMS position. Events in her personal life may have brought her to make some changes in her in-plant career, but her determination to be an asset to FSIS hasn’t swayed.

Alethea “Missy” Payton of the FSIS. Photo by RMS Natoya Cameron Ogbebor

A Desire to Serve 
Payton’s drive to support the FSIS mission and serve the public brought her from the field temporarily to the Jackson District Office in July 2023 to help during a staffing shortage. The district office asked if she was interested in an RMS detail. “I was glad to come in from the field to help out because I try to be of service in any capacity that I can,” she said. Her prior experience as an RMS allowed her to fill a critical role and improve efficiency because she didn’t require extensive training. In April 2024, she became an RMS in a permanent position in the Jackson district office again.

Payton sees the value in passing knowledge to others and has helped them become confident by taking the time to teach them. While detailed, she realized that field employees needed help with the travel management system, Concur. She noted many errors that prolonged processing of travel vouchers and took action to improve efficiency. Payton recalled how a past mentor trained her as a new CSI, and she realized these employees would benefit from in-person training. Payton said, “Sometimes, hands-on learning helps people grasp concepts better.”

She approached her supervisor and volunteered to provide onsite training for each shift at four establishments. She worked with each inspector through the steps of creating an authorization, adding expenses, booking hotels, editing and attaching supporting documents. Inspectors also brought up previous problems they encountered, which Payton helped them troubleshoot. She noted an improvement in inspectors’ confidence using Concur and received excellent feedback on her efforts. She now plans to expand the training to inspection personnel at other establishments in the metropolitan Jackson area.

Payton derives satisfaction in doing something good for the agency and the nation. She said, “I love to promote FSIS because we all rely on the agency, and we all eat.” She describes herself as a people person and feels that FSIS is more than just a job. It’s an avenue to meet people. Payton has enjoyed this aspect and developing working relationships has been fulfilling.

She used her people skills at a January 2023 recruiting event for hard-to-fill vacancies at a hog slaughter plant in Louisville, Kentucky. At the event, Payton met potential applicants, told them about FSIS jobs and benefits, helped them open a USAJobs account and discussed the application process and requirements. She was proud to participate because it yielded a lot of applicants, and they were able to secure several qualified candidates for the vacancies at the establishment. Payton finds it refreshing to talk with individuals interested in FSIS and is proud that she can say that FSIS has provided a rewarding and stable career path for her with good benefits.

Alethea “Missy” Payton, left, performing Concur training in Summit, MS, with CSI Sandra Smith.
Photo by Supervisory Consumer Safety Inspector Spear Gilmore III.

FSIS Core Values
Payton describes herself as a dependable employee, striving to be a supportive and positive influence. Her supervisor said that she is “dedicated to FSIS in any role she holds. Her accuracy in work requires little oversight. She makes customer service a priority with a positive attitude.”

Payton tries to embody all the FSIS core values in her daily work. She holds herself Accountable for her actions and takes ownership of her responsibilities at work and in life. She firmly believes that being accountable shows maturity and results in improved critical thinking.

She feels Empowered by the resources available to help employees with career growth and is thankful for the development opportunities and resources given to her. She knows the benefit of being empowered personally and takes every opportunity to encourage her peers. Payton said, “Anyone can take advantage of the career ladder if they choose. The sky is the limit, as long as you give it your all.”

Payton knows the value of Collaboration when reaching goals and feels that outcomes are more productive with effective teamwork. Knowing that she is part of a team enables Payton to stay open-minded and receptive to other individuals’ viewpoints. She is Solutions-Oriented by approaching challenges with thoughtful assessment that allows her to develop the best course of action. She finds that developing solutions often involves the ability to step back and observe a situation. By taking the time to assess the problem, she can help develop and execute a plan to correct it.

Payton knows her job is important and feels fulfilled with her career at FSIS. While her current RMS duties are very different from those of a CSI, Payton notes that her responsibilities are vital because they directly impact FSIS employees. She is always mindful that she serves the public, knowing that her dedication has helped protect public health. She is motivated by the mission, her family and strong faith, which have helped her stay focused.

Outside of Work
Payton enjoys traveling and is always on the go to the mountains, Florida or to the beach with her daughter and granddaughter. Spending time with her family is important to her, either for dinners or yearly family trips that seem to always end up in Las Vegas. Payton is an avid basketballer. She started playing in school and plays any chance she gets. Payton experienced a severe injury to one of her fingers while playing basketball but hasn’t let the injury stop her love of the game. Her faith is important to her and has helped her through family losses, keeping her filled with life, joy and peace.

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