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Kimberla Fairley, Acquisition Management Specialist

March 10, 2021

Kimberla Fairley shares her work as an Acquisition Management Specialist for the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, what Women's History Month means to her, and who have been her biggest influences.

Kimberla Fairley

What is your key responsibility? 

As the Acquisition Management Specialist for the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, my responsibilities involve contracting a wide range of goods and services for the Center. Every day is different. Just recently, for example, I helped support our Antarctic Division purchase critical parts for modifying gliders that operate remotely in the Southern Ocean, our IT (Information Technology) team purchase hardware system maintenance and continually help navigate the Government Purchase Program. Basically, I help our staff buy things! 

Where do you conduct your work? 

These days, my work is virtual. I support both Santa Cruz and La Jolla laboratories, but my office is at our laboratory in La Jolla, California. 

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Fresno, California. Since then, I’ve traveled extensively, initially for work, and I’ve lived in eastern, western, and southern parts of the United States and overseas. 

What is your educational background? 

I have three degrees, including a degree in accounting, business Administration and a Master’s in Public Administration with the emphasis in Acquisition Management. The latter I earned while I was active duty military with the United States Air Force. Interestingly, I didn’t start out this way. I actually started out with a psychology major as an undergraduate at UC Davis.  It did not take long for me to discover that I am not an abstract thinker. I enjoy structured thought and evidence-based conclusions. I discovered accounting and thrived! Why not science? Continue reading.

Is there a book, quote, or person that influenced you to be the person that you are today?  

Wow. So many influences. But the most immediate would be my mother. As a single parent I watched her persevere through so many challenges, work hard, and instill the need for a higher education. Her strength provided an example of being diligent and not letting anything get in your way. 

When I was young, we had a three-volume book-set by Jacques Cousteau, and we watched his show on TV. Orcas and dolphins were my favorites. I knew I wanted to do something like that. But, living in the San Joaquin Valley, I didn’t know anyone in marine sciences nor had anyone hinted that was a real job. But, I always loved and did well in my science classes. Now working at NOAA Fisheries, I can bring my strength in accounting together with my interest in the ocean and science.  

What does Women’s History Month mean to you? 

The recognition of women and how they have contributed to society at large. I think Women’s History month/International Women’s Day is important because in so many cultures you don’t necessarily hear about women. In some countries women are not highly regarded and are the most vulnerable population. So it’s nice to have this recognition because the struggle still exists.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love traveling and I have lots of hobbies—I quilt (no I don’t take requests), read science fiction fantasy and ride my Yamaha V-star cruiser (been to Rolling Thunder twice). 

What advice would you have for today’s youth interest in a Federal Government career?

First, think about what it is that you like. What speaks to you? The federal government is so many things. What you see most of the time are the obvious ones that you encounter every day, like defense or the postal service. What we don’t often see are the smaller agencies, such as United States Foreign Service or NOAA. Don’t be afraid not to look outside of your circle. Know what you are good at and look broadly. It’s out there, and maybe in an unexpected place.  

Last updated by Southwest Fisheries Science Center on March 10, 2021