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Energy Department employee Warren Riley

Service Branch: United States Air Force

Years of Service: 20 Years, 7 days

Would you like to share any details of your military history, awards you may have received or other accomplishments?

Air Force Achievement Medals (2); Air Force Accommodation Medals (4); Meritorious Service Medal; NCO Professional Military Education Ribbons (3); National Defense Service Medals w/ one bronze star; Air Force Long Tour Overseas Medal; Southwest Asia Service Medal; Air Force Training Ribbon; Short Tour Overseas Ribbon; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Air Force Outstanding Unit (4); Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Air Force Good Conduct Medal (5); and Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

Please take a moment to reflect on your thoughts when considering your service uniform.  What does your service uniform represent to you?

Wearing the Air Force Uniform was one of the proudest moments of my life.  The uniform represents patriotism, integrity, service and excellence.  It also symbolized the specialness of being an American, “Land of Free and home of the brave.”  Wearing the uniform reminded me of all of those airmen that gave their life to protect the home-front and sacrifice self for the common good and safety of others. Although my service to this country was not always easy, I absolutely knew it was necessary and felt like it was the least I could do as U.S. citizen.

Teamwork is essential across many contexts in life.  Please share how your service in the military cultivated an appreciation for the value of teamwork.  Do you draw from these experiences, or what similarities exist, when working within teams at the DOE? 

The Air Force was the epitome of team work and we were trained from day one the importance of “espirit de corps – A feeling of pride, fellowship, and common loyalty shared by the members of a particular group” (Webster Dictionary).  If someone on your team failed, everyone failed.  It was a culture of service before self, mentoring, sharing, caring for others and investing time in young airmen and grooming them to become effective and efficient leaders for the future Air Force.  This way of thinking has forever changed my life and had a major impact of my professional formation.  As a Team Leader DOE, I am responsible for leading a team that varies from 6 to10 Contract/Grant specialists in a fast-paced environment.  My main focus to ensure are they are productive, encouraged to excel and learning every-day.  We work together on complex projects, participate in training, and discuss training topics throughout the year.  I do my best to gain their respect and trust by taking interest in them, asking about their families, rolling up my sleeves and assist them with difficult projects, supporting the goals, and providing opportunities to work together with other departments and stretch them to take my place as a future leader.

Military service can have a profound and lasting impact on those who serve. Your perspective is unique in having seen both the military and the civilian sides of service.  What story could you share of service before self? 

I believe my military career has had a profound and lasting impact on me because it has shaped me to be an effective leader.  The military invested a great deal of time and resources ensuring that I could be a highly trained leader by providing leadership opportunities early in my career.  The Air Force training I received over 20 years built on the morals and values I learned from my parents as a child.   Treat people as you want to be treated; do the right thing even when no one is watching; give your best and be your best; and make sure you pay it forward by helping someone that cannot return the favor.

My entire military life was rooted in a “service before self” culture.  As a military member, you quickly learned that highest honor as an American was proudly serving the country and wearing the military uniform.  Every time I put my uniform on, until the day I took it off, I knew that I was representing the image of the Air Force and the United States of America.  Every deployment I volunteered for or was selected to, I went because I knew my country needed me and that was enough for me not to question my superiors, I went every time and worked my butt off, ensuring the mission was accomplished to best of my ability.  Service before Self is an Air Force value and to this very day, I do my best to apply that motto to every part of my life’s philosophy.  Lastly, service before self is one of the reasons  I am an ordain minister and I volunteer my time working and ministering in one of the poorest communities in Chicago.

What inspired your interest the agency, and how did your prior service prepare you to join the DOE’s workforce?

After retiring from the Air Force, I wanted to give private industry a shot, and after 18 months of working in corporate America, I realized that I wanted and needed to be back in public sector.  I created my USA Jobs profile and saw the perfect opportunity with DOE. I applied, interviewed and was hired in September of 2007 and I have been working there just over 12 years and have been promoted 2 times.  DOE is a great agency for prior military personnel and I can’t imagine working any place else.

Your talents contribute to an innovative and vibrant scientific ecosystem important for matters of national security, energy technologies, and economic prosperity.  How does your role, whether directly or indirectly, allow the agency to continue push the frontiers of science?  As Contracting and Grants Officer for the Office of Science, my role is paramount in the DOE’s mission accomplishments relative to Research and Development.  We spend well over $1B per year on Basic energy research and it has benefitted the public more than anyone would ever know.  We have world-class National Laboratories that my office provide direct and indirect acquisition and assistance support.  The science and innovations borne out of this research is incredibly important to the national security of the country and I am glad to be a small part of this great work.

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