Dr. Gerald Curry has been with the Energy Department for three years, and in his current role as the Deputy Associate Under Secretary for Security for one. In this role, he’s responsible for security policy for the DOE Enterprise. In addition to being a senior government official, Dr. Curry is an entrepreneur, author, college professor, and retired U.S. Air Force officer. He sat down with us recently for a brief discussion as part of a Black History Month Blog Series.
Tell me a little about your role at the Energy Department.
The benefit of this job is I get to influence the safety of everyone in the building, from guests to contractors and federal employees. The policies I get to be responsible for impact everyone from the Secretary of Energy to the janitor to those assigned at national laboratories, and Category One sites. The things we do are so critically important. I appreciate the responsibility, and opportunity of being relevant to mission success. A lot of people don’t think about security, but most employees couldn’t complete their jobs if some aspect of security wasn’t present, badges, etc. Having that type of wide outreach is kind of special, it’s kind of cool.
How would you describe your current thinking about diversity, and how has your thinking changed over time?
America is one of the most diverse countries in the world and there’s a lot of strength in that diversity. Diversity is critically important. It allows every culture and ethnic background to weigh in and hopefully strengthen society with creativity and innovation. One of the reasons we’re so successful is because of our diversity. Unfortunately, there are always elements that repel diversity and want to keep things the way they were. With the current laws on the books, everyone has an opportunity, but we still have a lot of ways to go. I would like to think society has improved, or I wouldn’t be sitting here today. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, even in our department. Creating a diverse workforce at the senior levels deserves attention. I’m not talking about installing a quota system, but actively recruiting diverse qualified candidates. Many of the meetings I attend are lacking diversity. The strength of our country is our diversity, and we need to take advantage of it.
Who were some of your hero’s growing up?
My parents. My dad was a minister; my mother a school teacher. I had a strict upbringing and spent a lot of time in church. If I wasn’t in church, I was in the gym or playing music. Music was always around our house. I come from a strong background of what I call ‘grandma values,’ which are the fundamental principles I live by. We lived by the Golden Rule, and were taught to treat people the way we want to be treated. You don’t take things that are not yours and you don’t talk bad about people. My parents had a simple rule: don’t do and don’t say stupid things, and that took me through my whole existence. Dad used to say, “you can do it right or you can do it again.” When you put yourself between those boundaries, it served as a roadmap for behavior. My superheroes were definitely my parents.
What’s one thing about you people would be surprised to know?
I was rated #3 in the world as the Professional Karate Association (PKA) Heavyweight in kickboxing. In 2010, I was inducted into the black belt hall of fame. I have a professional record of 36-6, with 19 knockouts. I fought on ESPN six times. I’m a 9th degree black belt, and hold black belts in three different styles. I also published a book in 2007, Striving for Perfection, and contributed to two text books on leadership. I would like to think I am sort of a renaissance person constantly looking to the future and trying to improve the world, one person at a time.