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: Site Planning Program Manager
Program/Office: Infrastructure Programs Office, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Years in infrastructure: 23
How did you become interested in infrastructure or what was your career path to this point?
I have a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree and was preparing for a career in city planning when a short-term opportunity came up at Los Alamos National Laboratory. While I did not have any intention of staying beyond the two years, I fell in love with New Mexico and greatly enjoyed working at LANL. That short-term position turned into a 26-year career, with 23 years spent in facilities and infrastructure. The majority of my work has focused on leading development of LANL’s site plans, including a number of Ten-Year Site Plans and most recently the Campus Master Plan, LANL’s first fully comprehensive site plan in over 20 years. In addition to site planning, I have also been a program manager for facility operations and maintenance activities at a number of LANL’s mission critical facilities.
People have asked me why I have stayed in infrastructure for so long. To me, nothing is more important than ensuring the right infrastructure and facilities are in place to enable our critical mission activities. Whether it is certifying the stockpile, safeguarding against nuclear threats, sequencing the HIV genome, or putting a rover on Mars, all of these activities require reliable infrastructure.
Describe a proud moment or accomplishment.
I was extremely proud when LANL was able to successfully complete our first NNSA Office of Infrastructure funded disposition project, the TA-18 Casas. LANL had to overcome a number of unexpected obstacles that tested the relatively new demolition team. I feel privileged to have led an amazing team of demolition and environmental professionals to overcome those obstacles and successfully accomplish an activity from The Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations’ Make It Happen List!
Why do you like working for NNSA?
I have enjoyed working for NNSA because of the incredibly talented people I have had an opportunity to work with. Whether it is at HQ or at other M&O sites, I have encountered many individuals passionate about supporting the NNSA missions and implementing creative problem solving. No matter what issues may come up in my work, I know there is someone out there willing to lend a hand.
There are two things I would recommend to those early in their careers. First, find a mentor, someone whose career path and work style you admire. Mentors can teach you so much about how work actually gets done. They can be great sounding boards when you need advice on tough decisions or navigating work relationships. They can also help with networking if you are ready to move on. I appreciate all that my mentors did for me when I was just starting out, and I have been happy to return the favor to several early career women at LANL.
The other thing I would recommend, which is advice I received from one of my mentors, is to jump in with both feet. Do not be afraid to take on tasks that may not be high visibility or that seem daunting; you learn something in every work experience, even if you aren’t a blazing success. There’s no substitute for experience!
*This is part of an ongoing series for Women’s History Month to recognize women in infrastructure at NNSA*