Ike White speaking on stage
EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White welcomes participants to an early career pre-conference workshop at 2023 National Cleanup Workshop. Kristen Ellis, EM acting associate principal deputy assistant secretary for regulatory and policy affairs, at right.

Over 100 people attended a first-ever session of the 2023 National Cleanup Workshop offering early career professionals in-depth information about EM’s work and guidance on how to grow and succeed within the cleanup program.

The session began with remarks from EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White on the future of EM’s workforce. He also shared a personal account about the path that led to his current role as head of the cleanup program.

Ken Rueter, president and CEO of UCOR, EM’s cleanup contractor at Oak Ridge, led a session on leadership development principles. He highlighted curriculum from UCOR’s Rising Senior Leaders Program, which trains selected employees to advance to senior and executive leadership positions. Rueter also shared advice on progressing into leadership positions.

Lindsay Wallace, Los Alamos program manager with Longenecker & Associates, moderated a career case studies panel session with federal and industry representatives at various career stages who discussed personal experiences and workforce issues.

Young professionals watching presentation
Participants in the special early career pre-conference workshop at the 2023 National Cleanup Workshop.

Panelists included Tifany N. Albin, executive officer, Hanford Chief of Staff Office, DOE; JJ Chavez, council member, City of Carlsbad; Greg Meyer, senior vice president, Fluor Government Group; Jennie Stults, deputy project manager, Hanford Central Plateau Cleanup Company; Anna Summers, chemical operator, UCOR; and Jennifer Vollbrecht, president and CEO, J. Vollbrecht Consulting.

“Be yourself” was the top advice from the panelists, who answered questions from attendees on a wide range of topics, including finding your place at work, building a personal brand and networking.
Participants also focused on choosing a mentor.

“Picture yourself, and then picture someone else on the opposite side of the spectrum from you and pick that person,” Stults advised participants. “My best mentors were people that taught me a different style of working, way of communicating, or a different way to think about a problem.”

Albin advised attendees to seek out a mentor who will be honest with them and not sugarcoat feedback.

The session ended with an “EM 101” briefing from Christine Gelles, chief operating officer of Longenecker & Associates. Gelles shared her passion for nuclear cleanup while discussing the origins of EM, the nuclear fuel lifecycle, major scope elements of EM work and EM’s complex regulatory framework.

-Contributor: Carly Howard