Black History Month graphic depicts photos of 11 Black men and women

February is Black History Month, and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) celebrates each year by highlighting individuals on our team that embrace the spirit of service and excellence established by Black leaders and innovators throughout our nation's history. 

This year's Q&A features Shaylynn Crum-Dacon, Technology Manager, Fuel Cells; Vicky Olivier-Stevens, Technical Project Officer, Hydrogen Infrastructure; and Christina Walls, Operations Specialist. 

Shaylynn Crum-Dacon, Ph.D.

Shaylynn Crum-Dacon headshot

Shay, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, joined DOE in 2023 shortly after earning a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Michigan State University. She also holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Tuskegee University. Between undergraduate and graduate school, she worked as a post-baccalaureate researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, focused on 3D printing of electrochemical materials for hydrogen fuel cells. For as long as she can remember, Shay has always centered, or wanted to center, her profession on energy sustainability and efficiency: "Being able to take part in bringing clean energy to my home and areas similar has always been a goal for me."

Favorite food/cuisine: Thai 

Currently reading: I just started The Prisoner by B.A. Paris

My favorite vacation ever: Trinidad

Someday I'd love to travel to: Greece

What most inspires you or motivates you?

There are so many inspirations in my life, but they always compact into one main purpose: from teaching the young members of my family to uplifting disadvantaged communities, I have always dedicated my life to utilizing my skillset and capabilities to improve quality of life wherever I can. My motivation will always be to help people the best way that I can.

Who most influenced you growing up? 

My mom was my greatest inspiration. She was a single mother with three children and sacrificed so much for me and my siblings. 

What would you like to see HFTO accomplish in the coming year?

I would really like to see increased or improved public education pertaining to clean energy.

What advice can you share for African American students and young professionals? 

Be ambitious and vigilant in opportunities. Never be too proud to ask for help or guidance. Those are the moments that open the most doors for you. 

Vicky Olivier-Stevens

Vicky Olivier-Stevens headshot

Vicky, a native of Roselle, New Jersey, joined HFTO in 2023 after working as a chemical engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Charles County, Maryland. Prior to earning a degree in chemical engineering at Hampton University, she served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a field radio operator. Vicky was inspired to pursue a career in clean energy as an undergraduate, completing a multi-year Green Teams Program internship at the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies where she conducted a data analysis on greenhouse gas emissions in the utility industry and developed universal, industry-specific sustainability guidelines: "I got to experience what the different teams were doing and saw how the work we did in such little time made a huge impact. I fell in love with it."

Favorite food/cuisine: Caribbean and African. The flavors are amazing!

Favorite film or TV program: Family Guy. I can quote episodes in my sleep. It's pretty bad.

My favorite vacation ever: Panama. I want to go back! There's so much more I want to see and do there.

Someday I'd love to travel to: Africa (any country), Alaska, Finland

What most inspires you or motivates you?

My three children inspire and motivate me in my everyday life. Knowing that I am working on projects that will benefit the planet for their future is fulfilling. 

Who most influenced you growing up? 

My mother. Being a Haitian immigrant, my mother had to work hard for me and my sister to get the opportunities we have today. Seeing how hard she still works gives me the work ethic and motivation I have today.

What would you like to see HFTO accomplish in the coming year?

I would love to see more outreach and engagement with minority serving institutions, historically black colleges and universities, and tribal colleges and universities. 

What advice can you share for African American students and young professionals? 

You are deserving to be in the space that you are in. I know we are conditioned to work twice as hard but understand when it is time to rest physically and mentally. Also, celebrate both your successes and your failures because your failures are still lessons that lead to successes. 

Christina Walls

Christina Walls headshot

A mother of four—including twin boys!—Christina is an adept multitasker and mediator. As HFTO's operations specialist, Christina has a hand in many day-to-day tasks, from responding to public emails to managing office events and meetings. She also works to find ways to attract talented, hydrogen-curious candidates from historically black colleges and universities and minority serving institutions. She holds a B.A. in mass communications from North Carolina Central University. A native of Waldorf, Maryland, Christina joined DOE in 2021 after working for several non-profit organizations, including the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), and the State of Maryland. She was inspired to support clean energy during her time at NRECA: "I realized there were so many underserved communities that needed access to clean, affordable energy. I wanted to help in any way that I can." 

Favorite food/cuisine: Mexican and Soul

Currently reading: The Ra Material by Don Elkins

My favorite vacation ever: Disney World

Someday I'd love to travel to: Ancient ruins across the world

What most inspires you or motivates you?

My spirituality and my kids keep me motivated! 

Who most influenced you growing up? 

My parents were very influential. My mother was the disciplinarian with strict rules and my father was the laid back one who talked things through with you. They had different rearing styles, but helped shape me into the person I am today. 

What would you like to see HFTO accomplish in the coming year?

I'd like to see our office create a way to get kids more involved with clean energy and educate them on why it is important for them to care. They are the next generation—the world will be left in their hands. 

What advice can you share for African American students and young professionals? 

Be yourself. Do not feel obligated to change who you are to be a part of something. If it is for you, it will be. Learn as much as you can to be a better employee and person and don't be afraid to talk to your supervisors or mentors about your aspirations—the right person can help you achieve your goals and much more!