Marie Griego takes on security challenges of the information age
It’s safe to say 2019 was a very good year for Marie Griego.
When Griego joined NNSA’s Los Alamos Field Office in 2001 as an administrative assistant, she had no idea she would evolve into a top-notch security specialist, winning NNSA and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) highest honors for her work.
“I felt very blessed,” Griego said. “It’s nice to be recognized for all the hard work you do.”
Security is a necessity for the lab to survive. It’s more than protection of assets like buildings, fences, guards, guns and gates. It’s the protection of computer systems, wireless networks, cyber security, and the rapidly growing number of electronic devices that people use every day. It’s ever-changing and evolving and difficult to stay on top of.
A resident of Santa Fe, N.M., Griego’s achievements earned her the NNSA Bradley A. Peterson Federal Security Professional of the year and the U.S. DOE’s Outstanding Security Professional of the year awards. Shortly after accepting her awards, Griego was promoted to Information Technology Program Manager for the Safeguards and Security Cyber Security team.
“The Department of Energy’s security mission is critical to ensure the protection of our national resources,” said then-Secretary of Energy Rick Perry of Griego and her colleagues. “I’m truly thankful to the members of our security team and extend my sincere appreciation to all those who dedicate their careers to the protection of these resources.”
“A lot goes on behind the scenes that people aren’t aware of,” notes Griego, pointing out that safeguards and security activities are often kept under wraps. “The people I work with do a really good job. We care that we do our jobs well.”
Griego and her team were recognized for a number of NNSA and DOE accomplishments, including the transfer of thousands of security clearances of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) employees when the $2.7 billion annual contract transitioned to Triad National Security, LLC. Ever humble, she suggests that some credit for her successes comes from taking advantage of the programs NNSA offers in order to improve effectiveness.
“To the outside, it looked seamless,” she said, adding that the Field Office piggybacked onto another NNSA site’s processes and lessons learned to ease the transition.
From early in her career, Griego has demonstrated her eagerness to take on assignments and temporary details, which has in turn provided a variety of skills to enhance her resume. She has leveraged that experience and her hard work along the way earning her a promotion from a Security Specialist to IT Program Manager.
There’s always going to be the need for security. There’s always a new challenge. I’m learning and enjoying my job.
Though she has an Associate degree in Applied Science, Computer Science - Network Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree in Technical Management, she did not have the hands-on experience to move into IT initially. Looking to obtain the needed skills, she started applying to professional detail opportunities that would provide her the know-how to meet the desired new job requirements.
“Details can benefit those who take advantage of them,” she said. “They give you the qualifications and experience you need for a good resume.”
As Griego reflects on her career in security, she knows it’s where she belongs and where she wants to be. She and the Field Office cyber security team along with about 800 IT experts at LANL help protect the lab from the deluge of IT security threats that come in daily.
“Security is a necessity for the lab to survive,” she said. “It’s more than protection of assets like buildings, fences, guards, guns and gates. It’s the protection of computer systems, wireless networks, cyber security, and the rapidly growing number of electronic devices that people use every day. It’s ever-changing and evolving and difficult to stay on top of.”
Griego is up to the task and excited about her contributions to the lab’s safety and security.
“There’s always going to be the need for security. There’s always a new challenge. I’m learning and enjoying my job.”
The Los Alamos Field Office employs about 90 people and administers the managing and operating contract for LANL. The Field Office provides oversight of the many activities at LANL and its roughly 12,000 employees.