What’s your background?
My background is in electrical engineering, mainly telecommunications and networking. I worked for NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD for three years before deciding I needed to make it my full time job to face my fear of speaking and attention. I stayed in the business of government contracting, learning everything from procurement, business strategy, team building, stakeholder management, and of course public speaking. Through my meandering experience in government contracting, I found my way into the intersection of technology and policy, and am here to stay and grow.
What inspired you to join USDS?
I first heard about USDS while I was working as a contractor with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Seeing the USDS team make decisions and move the project at a speed I had never seen before in government got me intrigued enough to learn more about the agency and eventually apply.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The work at USDS pushes boundaries in many ways. The biggest challenge for me has been to face my own imposter syndrome. Rarely are we the ones with the most domain knowledge in the room. It is humbling and challenging to admit that you don’t have the decades of experience as your stakeholders while standing firm in your assertion that the decision you are proposing is the correct one.
How does your work make an impact?
Work in government matters, USDS or not. USDS hires for empathy and passion. This allows us to make an impact by questioning the status quo and being a catalyst for action. What our team members bring to the table is a fearless energy to try, and a resilience in the face of failure. Often we hear “we’re the government, our systems can’t break.” Yet, the government has the highest rate of failed IT projects. Private technology companies continuously outpace and outperform government technology products. Our impact is to demonstrate and empower a culture change within the government that views risk as something to mitigate, not to avoid.
“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.”
“My friends here inspire me. When the work demands 110% from us, we lean on each other until we get “all the things” done.”
“I think that President Obama instilled in all of his staff the sense to do what is right, not always what is easy.”
“Improving the aging technology that government and its services runs on was an extremely compelling goal.”
“At the Defense Digital Service I help make the lives of service members better, and safer.”
“Everyone is here because they care about people and they want to change things for the better. They're not just coming for a paycheck and that makes a huge difference in the work environment.”
“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’ve been involved with so many things I am proud of, but probably the most meaningful contribution is making the civil service stronger.”