A portrait of Andrae Brooks.
Andrae Brooks

How do you support NNSA?

I am a Senior Foreign Affairs Specialist for NNSA’s Office of Nuclear Incident Policy and Cooperation. I organize international radiological training courses for experts from around the world who work with radiological training and equipment. A major part of my job is supporting information sharing and bringing NNSA’s expert knowledge of emergency preparedness and response operations to our partners in NATO and around the world.

What is your personal background, and how has that shaped you and your approach to your career?

I am an Army brat and moved all over the world as a kid; I did the same thing as an adult for 25 years as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Officer after I joined the Army. I guess traveling is in my blood because I love it and enjoy working with people from all over the world. During my Army life, I moved 19 times with my wife Jana (she loves to travel too), but we temporarily settled down after I retired from the Army in 2013. Home is where you hang your hat, so I am still looking for a home.

What did you study in school and how did it impact you personally and professionally?

I studied geology in school at the University of Kentucky and later environmental engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Throughout my life, I have worked with hazardous materials, recycling, waste management, and toxic materials. Geology and environmental engineering have always given me an understanding of just how important our mother Earth is – for everyone around the world.

A photo of Andrae Brooks, right, and two of his international colleagues dressed in uniform.
Andrae Brooks, right, and two of his international colleagues.

What led you to a career in nuclear security?

In the Army, I was a CBRN Officer and later completed a training with a job at DOE’s Hanford Site. After retiring from Army, I worked for the Department of State and eventually “migrated” to NNSA. It was essentially a continuation that uses my experience in nuclear security and emergency preparedness every day.

What is the best part about your job?

I really enjoy working with our international partners, and not only sharing knowledge, but learning from them as well.

What is your proudest accomplishment while working at NNSA?

Over the past few years, I have been an advocate of providing training to NATO and alliance members. Now, more than ever, our allies need our help, and NNSA’s radiological expertise and my office has a robust NATO training portfolio that provides this support.

Tell us something interesting about yourself.

On my home leave from Afghanistan (my first time in Virginia as my wife and family moved a year earlier), I drove down the HOV lane heading north: in a new car, boxer shorts, flip flops, no wallet, and no idea that I could not “exit.” I had no idea where I was and as I looked down, the gas light was on and I had two miles left. It is funny now, but it sure was not funny in 2006.

What advice would you have for anyone interested in a career in nuclear security?

NNSA is the best place for technical STEM graduates to work and build an exciting and fulfilling career.

Who is someone that inspires you and why?

My mother. She lived in East Germany after World War II, but fled to West Germany in 1958. She grew up very poor and had to work for everything. She taught me that if you did not work, then you did not eat. I have never forgotten.