What’s your background?
I originally came to DC from California six years ago to work at a national security non-profit organization. Then I moved into federal government with the Office of Presidential Correspondence (OPC) in the previous Administration, five years ago. I’ve been in government ever since, jumping around to different teams. USDS is my first civic tech role.
What inspired you to join USDS?
I first heard about USDS when I was at OPC. They had reached out to us looking for user stories from Veterans about their interactions with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). They were very much the cool kids in the room, wearing jeans and hoodies amidst the sea of suits. What struck me was how passionate they were about their work, and that spoke to me. I am mission-driven and aim to work in spaces that deliver impact, even behind the scenes. It’s inspiring to see the work USDS has done, and continues to do, specifically in a very complicated environment in unprecedented times.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Owning my game, (a.k.a. imposter syndrome). I think I share similar sentiments, especially with many women on this one. There are days where my confidence lacks, and yet I’m depended on to make crucial decisions for the well-being of the team. It’s not always easy to say, “I’ve totally got this,” or “everything will be fine.” There is a lot more at play — hurdles, roadblocks, red tape, etc. — and learning how to navigate that maze can be hard. I’ve learned to rely on bridges and encouraging voices in order to move forward.
How does your work make an impact?
My impact is team-focused. My role as an operations manager is unique in the sense that I’m a jack-of-all-trades. I see myself as an enabler, a guardian, a gatekeeper of the team. My job is to create a healthy environment, put out fires, support, guide, and facilitate. Whether it’s ensuring we have a functional work space and the right tech equipment, helping newbies find their way, or wrangling ethics clearances for an event, there are a lot of moving pieces that demand quality service on my end to ensure the team’s ability to deliver working products.
What do you want to do after USDS?
I want to continue to work in the civic tech space. There is definitely a need for more women of color to speak tech and government at the same time. I believe in changing the status quo, and more importantly, empowering good people with the right tools, especially in government, which could bring everlasting change.
What will you miss most about USDS when you leave?
The people! There are parts of my job that have required me to lean on the shoulders of others. I’ve been grateful to have built long-lasting relationships because of that.
“The actual project work is important, but where I see the biggest potential is in the culture change and new ways of working that we can bring to agencies.”
“If you are thinking about totally disrupting your comfortable lifestyle and moving to Washington, D.C., for a family adventure like we did...”
“It’s not about how can we maximize digital ad space or make conversion rates better, but how we can use technology to really make a difference in someone’s life.”
“And my resolve to contribute to the movement was only strengthened when I heard about how USDS works, their values, and the awesome things they had delivered.”
“I have never met such a passionate group of individuals who show up for one another to provide help on projects and emotionally support each other during difficult times.”
“Making sure we can improve, design, and iterate on a printed piece of paper, while explaining policy in a more human-centered way was a challenge I wasn’t expecting.”
“Making responsible decisions about complex issues requires representation at the table where the decisions are being made.”