How do you support NNSA?
I plan and oversee counter-nuclear smuggling programs in the countries of Georgia, Lebanon, and Mexico. I work with technical experts and the National Laboratories to help seize illicit nuclear and radiological material.
What is your personal background, and how has that shaped you and your approach to your career?
I have served in the U.S. Army for almost 12 years both on active duty and as an Army Reservist. I previously deployed as an intelligence officer in support of Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq from 2020 to 2021. The military was a formative experience for me after graduating college in 2012, and I have always been grateful for the discipline and resourcefulness it instilled. Another underappreciated aspect of military service is the exposure it gives to the sheer variety of people and places both in the United States and across the wider world.
What did you study in school and how did it impact you personally and professionally?
I graduated with a master’s in 2022 from Ohio State University with a focus in Arabic and anthropology. Proficiency in Arabic has opened many doors professionally, affording me the opportunity to work as a liaison to the Iraqi Special Forces and Federal Police while in Baghdad in 2021. It also was also instrumental in conducting my academic fieldwork and has proven valuable in building rapport with native speakers I encounter in my personal and professional life.
What led you to a career in nuclear security?
I had never considered a career in nuclear security prior to applying to NNSA. After being selected as a finalist for the Presidential Management Fellowship, I saw a job posting for a Foreign Affairs Specialist position with the Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence (NSDD) at NNSA. The position appealed to me because it entailed a lot of coordination and capacity-building with foreign partners.
What is the best part about your job?
I find immense satisfaction in working with foreign partners, building lasting relationships and strengthening their capabilities while contributing to U.S. strategic interests. Counter-nuclear smuggling is a very niche field that is largely unknown outside of a small community within the government and private sector. It is exciting to work on a problem set of such consequence.
What is your proudest accomplishment while working at NNSA?
I am very proud of my previous involvement on the Ukraine country team and contributing to expansion of our partnerships there.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I have an amateur interest in hand tool woodworking which I recently began learning.
Do you have any highlights from your time supporting NNSA?
After joining NSDD, I was immediately assigned to the Ukraine country team. The Ukraine portfolio remains an incredibly dynamic program featuring a range of partnerships and projects far beyond what the office traditionally implements in comparable countries. During my time on the team, we made regular trips to Eastern Europe to meet with our Ukrainian partners. It was immensely humbling and rewarding to hear firsthand how the war had affected them personally and how important they viewed Ukraine’s relationship with the United States.
What advice would you have for anyone interested in a career in nuclear security?)
Be open to working in fields outside of their comfort zone or area of expertise. Some of the most surprising and unexpectedly rewarding experiences of my career have been when I was immersed in a completely unfamiliar field and obliged to learn it quickly.
Who is someone that inspires you and why?
My daughter, who recently celebrated her first birthday, is one of my biggest inspirations in life. She inspires me to be a better father, better husband, and better person.