What’s your background?
I’m a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in biomechanical engineering. I started my career doing research in biomechanics, but eventually transitioned to doing FDA trials and human subjects research in stroke and traumatic brain injury before moving into the tech space. I’ve had the opportunity to work at several startups, but was particularly impacted by the years I spent working at Facebook. The biggest impetus behind my move to USDS was the opportunity to do great work that would have a tangible impact on the lives of, literally, everyone around me.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Sometimes, separating from the work is really hard. Especially as I’ve spent the last few months working from home, balancing a crazy schedule of navigating COVID, working on my USDS projects, being a single mother of two, and homeschooling a kindergartner and 4th grader! Most recently in my work life, I’ve been focused a lot on having conversations with people who are working with families who have experienced a wide range of traumatic experiences. Hearing their stories and the challenges they face can feel really heavy, particularly when the idea of developing quality solutions often feels really daunting. Despite this, I have been so encouraged by my fellow teammates who are not only incredible to work with, but also have been able to have honest, open, and transparent conversations about the work we’re doing, even when those conversations are hard. I believe that the work we do here at USDS is so critical, and despite the challenges that arise on any given day, I wouldn’t trade this job for anything, especially in this moment.
How does your work make an impact?
The great work we do at USDS has been on clear display during this time of pandemic and recovery. USDS has been plugged in at agencies across the Federal government dealing with the COVID-19 response and at the end of the day, the impact that we have been able to have during this time has been astounding. Our ability to navigate the massive amounts of COVID-related data has had an impact in saving lives across this country. In the aftermath of the job loss caused by extended quarantine, we’ve had teams working to ensure that Americans are able to (successfully) apply for unemployment benefits. We’ve even facilitated the government’s ability to continue working remotely so that a number of critical agencies were able to more easily transition to a fully remote workforce. Although DHS is my home agency, I’m currently working with fellow USDSers in Health and Human Services (HHS). Now more than ever, the American people are experiencing a national trauma that seems to get compounded day over day. USDS had already been working with agencies like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to understand the types of challenges faced by providers and organizations all across America as they work with children who are dealing with past or present trauma. These conversations have been absolutely eye opening and as more of us are exposed to the trauma of the recent months, the work USDS is doing with SAMHSA to help better support our children and their families who have experienced trauma feels even more timely.
“At the Defense Digital Service I help make the lives of service members better, and safer.”
“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.”
“There are no small wins at USDS. Whatever you help get done ... wouldn’t have happened otherwise, and will be a critical step to creating a positive impact for millions.”
“I was inspired to join USDS because technology can do more than entertain and amaze us. Combined with good government, it can be a force for good in people’s lives.”
“I love that USDS is intentional about selecting projects and is dedicated to helping underrepresented communities, such as veterans and immigrants.”
“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.”
“Serving a tour of duty with USDS is not only good for the country but also a great opportunity for you as a technologist.”
“I’ve been involved with so many things I am proud of, but probably the most meaningful contribution is making the civil service stronger.”