Department of Energy

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: 10 Questions for James Thompson

May 15, 2019

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James P. Thompson is an Administrative Judge for the Office of Hearings and Appeals.
James P. Thompson III is an Administrative Judge for the Office of Hearings and Appeals. 

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! To celebrate, we’re highlighting a few of the people at the Energy Department who are helping to change the world.

1. What’s your job title and how long have you worked at the Energy Department?

My title is Administrative Judge, and I have worked at the Department for two and a half years.

2. What inspired you to work in your field?

I realized how the law permeates every aspect of our society, and I knew that it would be a powerful foundation for a challenging and rewarding career.

3. What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Getting a new case and reading the facts because it is a brand-new puzzle to piece together before the administrative hearing. That excitement is heightened because I know that my work serves the public and protects our country.

4. Do you have any words of advice for people looking to enter your field?

Start making connections. As soon as possible find and reach out to people doing what you think you want to do, and talk to them about their path. Most professionals will be more than willing to talk to you. Continue to make connections and keep in contact with them because they may be a resource as you move forward. I enjoy speaking to people about their interest and my path, and as a result I often become part of their network and develop an interest in their success.

5. How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

Being multiracial, heritage represents the opportunity to expand understanding. I am always aware of the unique personal lens through which I experience interactions. When those interactions challenge my understanding of the world, I use them as an opportunity to affirm or recalibrate my understanding. My heritage is a foundation for constant development.

6. Does your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?

I created a tradition in which I spend a significant amount of each visit with my parents asking questions, individually, about their life and experiences. I realize that there is so much I do not know about their stories, but their stories lead directly to me and shape who I am. I want to make sure I know those stories.

7. What are some interesting hobbies or talents that most people may not know about you?

I have two. I am studying Japanese because I really enjoy learning the language and using it to interact with others. I also started skeet shooting because, long ago, I determined that I will never play golf.

8. What’s your favorite book or podcast?

My current favorite podcast is the Joe Rogan Experience. I am constantly exposed to new information and ideas that augment my level of awareness. Joe Rogan Podcast. Check it out.

9. Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?

There are so many admirable historical figures, and they all have their superlatives and their faults. I prefer to focus on and combine their best attributes to create an ideal which I can learn from and strive toward as I attempt to perform at my best.

10. What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?

It provides a reminder to pause and take a moment to learn about and reflect on the contributions that my predecessors and contemporaries have made and how I can rise to meet the challenge of their excellence.