Machelle Reynolds

How do you support NNSA?

I am a Field Liaison Officer for the Office of Defense Nuclear Security. My job is to be the conduit, facilitator, and communicator between NNSA field sites and DNS Headquarters offices, validating safeguards and security program execution. I get to interact with all levels of the organization to ensure coordination and alignment of our strategic objectives. 

What is your personal background, and how has that shaped you and your approach to your career?

I graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, with a Bachelor of Science in Education and Troy State University in Troy, Alabama, with a Master of Science in Management. Before retiring from the United States Air Force, I challenged myself to color outside the lines by applying and being accepted for military special duties, including Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and Defense Attache Offices, U.S. Embassies in Japan, and Pakistan. 

My work in education, management, and the military shaped me and my approach to my career by providing me with skills to teach, listen, prepare, create, engage, respect, communicate, lead, problem solve, organize, make decisions, adapt, and collaborate as a team player with a can and will-do attitude. 

I desired a change and applied for a position with NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Security office. It appealed to me because I had experience in security, but this was something different, intriguing, and a place where I could contribute to protecting our nation.

Machelle Reynolds
Defense Nuclear Security

What led you to a career in nuclear security?

The better part of my career has involved some form of security, starting with serving in the U.S. Air Force. I performed administrative duties for several years while being assigned to headquarters, supporting special missions, security events, and operations within Joint Special Operations Command.

After the military, I became the Facility Security Officer at the National Academy of Sciences, where I made sure we adhered to security requirements. After several years, I desired a change and applied for a position with NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Security office. It appealed to me because I had experience in security, but this was something different, intriguing, and a place where I could contribute to protecting our nation. I have been with NNSA for over 10 years and continue to love what I do to protect our nation.

Tell us something interesting about yourself. 

My time in the U.S. Air Force was so amazing. Due to my stellar performance, they selected me to receive an incentive flight in a F-16 Fighting Falcon jet. That was the thrill of a lifetime, truly exhilarating! 

During my assignment to the American Embassy Japan, they selected me to serve as the Ambassador’s executive assistant for two weeks. I learned so much during that experience. 

While working for a two-star Major General, I received an on-the-spot promotion in the Stripes for Exceptional Performers Program, because my peers and superiors saw something in me. Each of these events helped shape me into the person I am today. 

What advice would you have for anyone interested in a career in nuclear security?

I advise anyone interested in nuclear security to go for it and follow your dreams. Life is too short not to achieve, aspire to be a better you, and do something for the greater good, all while inspiring others to climb higher and be a part of something great. We have some of the best and brightest people in nuclear security - who wouldn’t want to be counted in that group?

Who is someone that inspires you and why?

Many people have inspired me, but the two most important people who inspired me from childhood were my parents, and even though they are no longer living, they continue to inspire me through the lives that they led. My father passed away from cancer when I was 12 years old, and my mother passed away when I was 25 years old from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. They taught me the importance of respecting others, being careful how you treat people, giving and sharing with others, and keeping the faith. Growing into adulthood and having been afforded many opportunities by working hard, I love to give back and bless others because of how my parents raised and inspired me. I know I am blessed to be a blessing.

How do you plan to celebrate/commemorate Women’s History Month?

I plan to encourage and empower young girls and women I meet by speaking positive words of affirmation, and not just during Women’s History Month. I have chosen to make it a daily habit; it’s a part of my lifestyle. We can encourage ourselves to strive harder and to keep going when dealing with life’s issues, challenges, or adversities but it’s much more empowering when you hear someone else say to you, “You can make it!” 

I also plan to donate to a Women’s homeless shelter this month, which I do regularly. It’s important for us to let them know that we see them, care for them, and they are not forgotten. These women will not be in the shelter forever as the sky is the limit and I want to do what I can to help play a part in them achieving their goals.