What do you do at NNSA?
I joined NNSA in May 2022 with over 20 years of federal, state, and local experience in preparedness, crisis management, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and incident response. I have experience in drafting and facilitating Federal counterterrorism policies on radiological and nuclear material for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Energy. Most recently, I worked on revising and implementing presidential directives that govern how we respond to specialized WMD devices using resources like the Nuclear Emergency Support Team.
Put in the hard work, take chances, and don’t be afraid to fail. Seek and gain your own experience. It may take time, but it is worth it in the long run because you can always stand on the foundation you built.
Earlier, I worked for the FBI on how to train specialized bomb technicians for a no-fail mission. I received the Medal of Excellence from the FBI Director for my work there.
I’m especially proud of serving as an executive advisor for DOE in Japan during the response to the Fukushima Dai’ichi Nuclear Power Plant incident. I felt I made a difference.
Any advice for young women and girls interested in a career like yours?
These last 20 years, I have operated in a male-dominated field, which can be challenging. It is important to build your personal experience so you have confidence and faith that you have something to contribute – and then follow through with that contribution. You have something to give.
To do that, however, you must build a solid foundation. Put in the hard work, take chances, and don’t be afraid to fail. Seek and gain your own experience. It may take time, but it is worth it in the long run because you can always stand on the foundation you built.
Who is a woman (or who are some women) that inspire/s you and why?
My daughter inspires me. She inspires me to knock down “women’s firsts” so she doesn’t have to. She gives me hope that the work that I and other women have done have made a difference. She’s excelling in STEM at school and has a passion for the field. It’s exciting.
In many of the meetings I attend, if I’m not the only woman in the room, I’m one of very few. Most women who went before me had the battle scars of fighting through, if not breaking, the glass ceiling on their own. I admire them for it because it made me stronger in the long run. I will continue to push so that others may benefit from a seat at the table. I will continue to push for my daughter.
Women are half the population, yet only make up a third of STEM workforce and studies. What are your thoughts on this?
As an undergraduate, I was a chemistry major before pursuing an English degree. I was interested, but struggled with stereotypes. Most women in my shoes were pushed into nursing. Frustrated and unsupported, I changed degrees but ended up going to graduate school, which was the beginning of my fascination with Emergency Management, which, at the time, was generally populated by retired, male firefighters.
Had there been more STEM options while I was in school, I certainly would have appreciated them. I know my daughter does!