What is your role here at NNSA? How does it align to our mission?
I am a Senior Advisor in the Office of International Nuclear Security. I help my organization work with the International Atomic Energy Agency and Interpol so that other countries can keep their nuclear materials secure. I also help develop tools and processes used in trainings and workshops for NNSA’s international partners.
What is the best part about your job?
The great experts I work with and learn from! My career has been a contining education experience and I am lucky to work with expectional experts from the U.S. and international orgnaizations.
What do you find most challenging and/or rewarding about your profession?
ravel. International travel is both great and challenging. I am grateful for the experience; whether I am going to a new country or returning to one I have visited several times. There are challenges such as jetlag, airline delays, food poisoning, and questionable hotel rooms. I try to remember during the challenging times that they are just a part of the travel process. Although it is not glamourous, it is rewarding.
Say 'yes' – no matter how small, scary, or far away the opportunity! I could not have planned the amazing experiences I had at NNSA . Say 'yes' and be willing to take the time to learn and develop new skills. I also think it is important to create opportunities for others and encourage them to say 'yes.'
What lead you to a career in nuclear security?
It was an accident! I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico as I was finishing my master’s degree. I took a temporary job at the National Training Center (NTC). On my first day there was a response force training with people dressed in black running around the facility with weapons, it looked like a movie! I was intrigued by the NTC’s mission and its role in domestic nuclear security training. I was thrilled when they offered me a job and I began to learn about performance training methodologies. Every job I had in the NNSA can be traced back to a relationship I had with someone at the NTC.
What did you study in school and how did it impact you personally and professionally?
I earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in communication. Both programs emphasized critical thinking and problem-solving skills that provided a great foundation for learning and understanding new areas in my career.
How has your personal background/experience shaped your work?
I grew up in Oklahoma, which was wonderful, but I also knew there was a bigger world that I wanted to see and experience. I never imagined I would have that opportunity through my career!
Tell us a little about yourself – a fun fact, a personal hobby, and/or accolades received.
I have two good friends I met when we all worked for the NNSA’s Office of Secure Transportation. Over the past 20 years, we have traveled together to more than 14 countries. We are currently planning our next trip, to Portugal.
Share any highlights of your work at NNSA. (notable projects, achievements, accolades/awards, etc.
I have been honored to serve on the IAEA’s Advisory Group on Nuclear Security. It provides the IAEA Director General with expert advice on the content and priorities of IAEA’s activities related to preventing, detecting, and responding to terrorist or other malicious acts involving nuclear material, other radioactive material, and its associated facilities and activities.
Why do think diversity and inclusion is important to your profession?
When I started my career almost 20 years ago, I was often the only woman, or one of the few women, in the room. Diversity in people, culture, and experience bring unique perpsectives that enrich discussions, problem solving, and decision making. When I look around meeting rooms today, both domestically and internationally, I find it motivating to be a part of a diverse and inclusive group of experts.
What advice do you have for young women and girls interested in a career like yours?
Say “yes” – no matter how small, scary, or far away the opportunity! I could not have planned the amazing experiences I had at NNSA . Say “yes” and be willing to take the time to learn and develop new skills. I also think it is important to create opportunities for others and encourage them to say “yes.”
Who is a woman (or who are some women) that inspire/s you and why?
I am fortunate to have many women in leadership roles—as well as peers—who inspired, encouraged, and supported me in my journey. During my time in the Office of Global Material Security, two women stand out as influential to me:
Elly Melamed inspired me as she led organizations on her own terms. She combines strong opinions and focused, direct questions with compassion and empathy. I admire that she takes time to think about a situation or issue, but will always follow through with a decision.
Katie Vogler is the other person who inspires me. She was incredibly smart, dedicated to the NNSA mission, and made me laugh. Katie was all about “work hard, but enjoy life,” a motto I try to follow every day.