Portrait of Karyn Durbin
Karyn Durbin

NNSA’s Karyn Durbin has been named the winner of an Arthur S. Flemming Award, which honors federal employees with less than 15 years of service.

Durbin, who won in the leadership and management category, has led the International Nuclear Safeguards Engagement Program in the agency’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (DNN) since 2016. A major accomplishment during her tenure was the expansion of NNSA’s engagement on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear safeguards from 30 to more than 100 partner countries despite numerous obstacles.

"Her efforts to lead capacity-building and diplomatic outreach to persuade countries to enter important safeguards agreements into force have resulted in tangible gains in nuclear nonproliferation and national security," the award reads. Her "professionalism, collegial attitude, and strategic approach to problem-solving have earned her the respect of the Department of Energy, the U.S. interagency, and countless international partners."

Due "to her uncanny ability to skillfully navigate complex geopolitical and multicultural environments, dozens of countries have signed or brought into force agreements that give the (IAEA) the tools and authorities necessary to verify that their nuclear programs remain exclusively peaceful."

Durbin has worked on nonproliferation and national security issues for more than 15 years. She was previously the team leader for NNSA’s Safeguards Technology program and has also worked on NNSA’s programs to dispose of excess materials from the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Durbin also worked for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on a variety of nonproliferation and cyber security programs.

“It’s wonderful to see what we’ve known in DNN for a while now: Karyn Durbin is effective at overcoming obstacles to progress in nuclear safeguards,” said Corey Hinderstein, the Deputy Administrator for DNN. “Her leadership style is simple: She pushes things along and supports her team at the same time. We couldn’t be more proud.”

Established in 1948, the Flemming Awards honor outstanding federal employees. They are coordinated by George Washington University's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.