Jessica Kunkle
Jessica Kunkle

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: Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Infrastructure
Program/Office: Office of Infrastructure, NA-52
Years in infrastructure: 9


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

Prior to joining NNSA’s infrastructure team, I supported NNSA’s nuclear nonproliferation mission in the former Office of Global Threat Reduction and NNSA’s acquisition organization.  In 2013, I was asked to take a position in the Office of Infrastructure and Operations, which would ultimately become part of our current Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations.  I was energized by nuclear nonproliferation; so the jump to infrastructure was a transition.  I ultimately found my drive and passion for modernizing NNSA infrastructure by connecting it to my childhood.  I grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico and was always deeply proud that my family, along with so many others, supported NNSA’s vital national security missions.  So, my goal is to make sure NNSA’s dedicated workforce has the necessary infrastructure to be successful every day.

I find working in NNSA’s infrastructure organization to be uniquely rewarding because our investments will have a lasting impact on NNSA’s mission success for decades to come.  As mission priorities evolve over time, NNSA’s infrastructure will need to endure those changes.  So, providing modern, flexible, and resilient facilities and infrastructure is vital to continued mission success.  I consider the nuclear security enterprise – the combination of workforce, knowledge, scientific and engineering capabilities, and one-of-a-kind facilities – to be a national asset.  And I want to sustain and modernize that national asset to the best of my ability.

Describe a proud moment or accomplishment.

There are too many to list. Ribbon cutting ceremonies for new facilities are always meaningful, but also seeing before and after photos for something as common as a roof repair is rewarding. 

There are two things I am particularly looking forward to that are coming up this year:

  • Completion of the NNSA John A. Gordon Albuquerque Complex which will replace NNSA’s current aged and degraded federal facilities in Albuquerque, NM.
  • Completion and ribbon cutting for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Emergency Operations Center, which is our first Enhanced Minor Construction and Commercial Standards (EMC2) pilot project to be completed.  The EMC2 pilot is deploying simple solutions to streamline low-risk capital construction projects to accelerate delivery and increase purchasing power.

Why do you like working for NNSA?

There are two main things that I enjoy about working in NNSA: the mission and the people. NNSA has a unique and incredibly rewarding mission – the fact that infrastructure supports all NNSA missions is a perk for me. And the people are amazing.  I am humbled to work alongside so many dedicated, selfless, and inspirational people every day. They are the reason that NNSA is such an inspiring and outstanding organization.

Any advice?

  • There are no limits to what’s possible.  You control your destiny.
  • Be flexible – you never know what opportunities might arise that will change your life forever.
  • Be persistent and take risks. 
  • Approach life as though every day has meaning. You are shaping the future because you are the future.

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