Deborah Couchman-Griswold
Deborah Couchman-Griswold

The National Nuclear Security Administration is celebrating the women who make up the backbone of our Enterprise. These women work across areas like project management, maintenance, disposition, sustainability and more. Their contributions and accomplishments are what make our workforce so incredible, and their backgrounds and expertise ensure that workforce is just as vibrant and important as the missions they support.

Title: Senior Advisor, Office of Infrastructure
Program/Office: NA-52
Years in infrastructure: 12


How did you become interested in infrastructure or what was your career path to this point?

Actually, infrastructure found me rather than the other way around. My early career focused on project management and environmental restoration – a natural fit for my chemical engineering degree. When I joined DOE, my responsibilities were still primarily in those areas but also included work with facility disposition. This experience, and my role in establishing NNSA’s Long-Term Stewardship (LTS) program, led NNSA management to seek me out to create NNSA’s first facility disposition program. My work in this area and my experience as a department manager led to my selection as the Deputy Director of the Office of Infrastructure Planning and Analysis (NA-521), which allowed me to play a key role in the creation of NNSA’s groundbreaking approaches to infrastructure management, including the Core Risk Informed Infrastructure Strategic Planning (CRISP) group, Deep Dives, and the Master Asset Plan. 

Describe a proud moment or accomplishment.

There are many accomplishments I am proud of, particularly the part I’ve played in the amazing, innovative work that our organization has accomplished during its relative short existence. I also have a very proud moment related to my long federal career that isn’t infrastructure related, which is when I recently discovered that the EPA Engineering Forum I co-founded is still going strong after more than 30 years. This community of practice, comprised of federal engineers across all EPA regions, shares information on engineering challenges and solutions posed by hazardous waste site remediation.  

Why do you like working for NNSA? 

The organization I work with is fast paced and innovative. My co-workers are all younger than me and the energy they bring to the table is infectious. I like that new ideas and approaches are not only supported but actively encouraged.

Any advice?

Good advice that I was given early in my career was that if there is more than one option for an opportunity, take the one that causes you the most fear. This is the work experience that will provide you the greatest opportunity to expand your skill set and advance your career. Also, seek out additional responsibilities, particularly if it involves a new approach or process.

*This is part of an ongoing series for Women’s History Month to recognize women in infrastructure at NNSA*