A Franklin Parish couple have become policy makers and trend setters in Washington, D.C. and the nation through hard work, determination and education.
Arthur Lee and Angelia Neal continue to impress their superiors with the work ethics and moral character they first learned at home.
Arthur Neal Jr.
Arthur is the deputy administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), and, Angelia is the Director of Human Resource Policy for the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Arthur is the son of Arthur Sr and Amour Neal and grandson of Williams and Alice Neal all of Winnsboro.
“I spent half my time growing up in Newellton and the other half in Winnsboro,” Arthur said. “My father was a farmer.”
Arthur’s mother was the owner of Neal’s Golden Comb Beauty Salon in Winnsboro for 35 years. The business was located on Maple Street.
Church and education were important in the Neal household. When growing up, Arthur remembers his mother sending him to summer camps in order to help broaden his perspectives of the world.
“My mother raised her children so we would not be afraid to move off,” said Arthur, a Newellton High School graduate. “Every summer she would enroll us in camps.”
Since 2011, Arthur has served as deputy administrator of the AMS Transportation and Marketing Program, where he led a team responsible for providing economic and insightful analysis on the transportation of bulk agricultural products via rail, barge, truck and ocean vessel. He also managed more than $120 million in federal grants and cooperative partnerships supporting the development of local and regional food systems. In 2017-18, he led the development of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, regulating how manufacturers must disclose bioengineered food information to retail consumers.
During his tenure at USDA, Arthur spent more than 10 years at the National Organic Program as associate deputy administrator, playing a leading role in the development and enforcement of regulations for the organic industry. He also worked several years with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, strengthening relationships with historically black land-grant universities and resolving farm cases related to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
Arthur earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge and a master’s degree from the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food andLife Sciences at University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.
FGIS facilitates the marketing of U.S. grain and related products by establishing standards for quality assessments, regulating handling practices and managing a network of federal, state and private laboratories that provide impartial official inspection and weighing services.
Angelia Neal is the Director for Human Resource Policy for the 19,000-employee agency.
Angelia is the daughter of Jerry and Ora Gordon and is a 1994 graduate of Ward III High School.
She obtained her bachelor’sdegree from Southern University and master’s degree from Colorado State University.
Angeliabegan her governmental career as a United States Presidential Management Fellow (PMF).
The PMF program is a highly selective, prestigious two-year training and development program at a United States government agency, administered by the Office of Personnel Management and initiated during the Jimmy Carter administration.
After PMF, Angelia worked in the National Institute of Health (NIH) with a background in communications. During this time, Angelia started learning about human resources.
“I did a detail in human resources and fell in love with the field,” Angelia said.
She was at NIH for 12 years in various roles of human resources.
In 2017, Angelia was Human Resource Manager for the Citizenship and Immigration Services in Washington where she began working in 2012.
Angelia remembers her rural background but said she did not let it hamper her intentions and dreams.
“Students need to take advantage of every opportunity afforded to them and not to defy their small beginnings,” Angelia said. “I started out at Ward III High School with a small graduating class and the encouragement of teachers, instructors and family really helped to make me well rounded. It was a natural progression from high school to college to graduate school and even into my professional career.”
Angelia advised students and young people to not let their rural settings be a setback to accomplishing their goals and dreams.
“I could have looked at this and said because I was from a small town I would not be able to make it in the big world, but the reality is the upbringing I had and because of the favor of God I was able to compete with people who had attended the Harvards and the Yales.”
For the future, Arthur and Angelia see making an impact wherever they go.
“Wherever God plants us, we want to make an impact,” Angelia said. “Human resources is about helping other people grow and be their best selves. Human resources can be transferred into the private sector.”
Mr. and Mrs. Neal
The couple first started dating when they were 15 years old in 1992. They married in 2000 and have been a team ever since.
The couple officially met at a Co-Op Conference at LSU.
“I was captivated by her beauty,” Arthur said. “Then once we sat down, and I started to know her better, I found her intellect, values and personality was just icing on the cake.”
Both agree it takes a team effort to accomplish goals in life and both show a desire to help others.
“One of the things Arthur and I developed years ago was this family motto: NEAL,” Angelia said.
NEAL stands for Never Ending Application of Love and Leadership.
“We have always found ourselves being the youngest in the bunch or the newcomer but always found ourselves able to make an impact and help people be their best self,” said Angelia.
With relying on each other and their continued hard work, the Neals have a bright future of professional and personal growth and helping others.