Joelle Altamirano
Joelle Altamirano

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: Real Estate Contracting Officer, Team Lead
Program/Office: Office of Infrastructure, Planning & Analysis
Years in infrastructure: 12


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

For me, infrastructure was not something I had considered or ever thought I was qualified for. I wanted to do something interesting and dynamic and that’s exactly what real estate accomplishes. I started out as a government contractor right out of grad school working in finance since that was one of many opportunities afforded under my master’s degree in business. I quickly realized finance was not for me, but I had a great opportunity to work for the government in a completely different capacity. By accepting a position with federal real estate, something completely new and different, I’ve landed in this exciting and rewarding career. 

Describe a proud moment or accomplishment.

Over the years I’ve been involved in many teams and projects that have resulted in successful achievements. I was part of the team to create the first-ever Option Agreement within NA-521 created to purchase an existing facility. The agreement was an innovative approach to a difficult, time-consuming acquisition process. The new facility will provide renewed space for the enduring mission that continues to rapidly grow. I’m proud of the teamwork that ultimately led to the purchase of this facility, and I’m looking forward to the developments that will come out of the space.

Since I appreciate working in a team and I know the level of hard work it takes to see the end, I’m also very proud of being a part of the construction of the New Albuquerque Complex. Signing the final beam on the New Albuquerque Complex after years of attempts to construct a new facility was such a feeling of triumph. There were so many team members that worked hard to see this through, so I’m not only proud of myself and the part I played, but proud of the team for their perseverance.  

Why do you like working for NNSA? 

I like working for NNSA because I’m proud of its mission. I like the organization I work in, the leadership, the team, and the work. There are not too many of us who can say they like the work they do, but I’m one of them. I enjoy waking up day after day to see the challenge that’s presented to me and how to achieve it. I enjoy working with my team and cheering them on to finish a project or tackle something new. I enjoy the drive to improve our processes and constant innovation in our projects. While I work in infrastructure and it’s not easy to see the link to the overall mission sometimes, I know that what I do makes a difference.

Any advice?

Overall, my advice is to be flexible and open to different paths. The different roads ultimately teach you something and the more you learn, the better prepared you are – in life and in your career.


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