What is your key responsibility?
My job as an Investigative Support Technician provides support in a variety of law enforcement activities, programs, and contact with our partners and to the public. Our team strives to build and maintain positive working relationships both remotely and on-scene as we all prepare for “return to work” in what will be the new normal. These last few years have been especially exciting to simply document all the efforts our Investigative Support Team does on a daily basis with my colleague and mentor, Christy Pearsall. This resource helps to facilitate training for our team internally. It has been key to the success of our team for training of new employees as well as to keep us sharp in our roles to ensure we support the mission to the best of our ability.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Sitka, Alaska when my mom went to visit family a month before I was expected to be born and she returned with me in tow back to her home in Washington. I grew up in a suburb of Seattle and have loved living in Washington. It has kept the ties to my heritage close with the culture of the many tribes in the area of the great Pacific Northwest.
Is there anything about your childhood or where you grew up that influenced your career path?
My grandfather was a chief to his clan, as well as a storyteller and master wood carver. In his talks about our people, he always said we had a responsibility to the earth around us. This was especially seen when we had feasts of our native foods, like salmon, halibut, or herring eggs in the springtime. He would say, it was the fish that would sustain us if we were to take what we needed and that it would return to feed us again. Something so simple and relevant to the way we at NOAA try to ensure that the species of fish are sustainable and available to return each year so that we'll have them for future generations.
What is your educational background?
I attended the local community college after high school for a few years, but when my grandmother fell ill, I had left my studies to be available to care for them. However, with the job that I do, I am excited for the opportunity to return to school and complete my degree. In fact, NOAA National Weather Service Hydrologist In Charge, Dr. Suzanne Van Cooten’s story, “My Path, My Circle” that was shared for National Native American Heritage Month 2020 Observance inspired me to complete my education. It gave me the courage to know that I have a path and a direction and that my job at NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is where I belong.
Are you a member of a community group or other organization?
I am an enrolled citizen of the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes and Sitka Tribe of Alaska and a proud Alaska Native. The passion for my heritage led me to be the Co-Chair to NOAA’s American Indian Alaska Native Employee Resource Group and I have just been elected for another term. In this position I help to lead the work of our small but mighty team. My greatest joy has been leading the Story Map for National Native American Heritage Month. I look forward to the work we can do this coming year.
What do you like to do outside of work?
For my hobbies I like to rotate to keep things interesting and avoid burnout. Our time with the pandemic was proof that variety was necessary when we were stuck at home. To keep myself busy I love to crochet, sew, photography, and to paint with pastels. More importantly, my favorite time outside of work is spending time with my family. My husband and I just celebrated 22 years of marriage and our 7-foot tall son is finishing up his senior year in high school, and yes, he plays basketball. Cheering him on in his sports gives us such joy.
Is there a book, quote, or person that influenced you to be the person that you are today?
This quote that I hold dear and think of often gives strength and encouragement in what I do for work and personal life:
"Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ANCESTORS are behind me. Be still, they say, watch and listen. You are the result of the LOVE of thousands."
— Linda Hogan Chickasaw Nation's Writer in Residence.
What does being a career civil servant mean to you?
Both of my grandparents were civil servants in Alaska and the pride that they took in their jobs that led to their treasured retirement had resonated with me as I sought a position working with the government. I wanted to be sure that I, too, found a position that would make them proud but also a place that I could be proud of, too. I am at a place that makes me happy and being part of a team that is stewards to the lands and sea is both a privilege and honor to my ancestors.
What advice would you have for someone interested in a career at NOAA Fisheries?
NOAA has so many paths that are both in science and technology, but for the non-scientists too. Reach out to our employee resource groups to discuss your desires for your future and you may be surprised that what you're meant to do is be a steward of the environment.
What does Native American Heritage Month mean to you?
Native American Heritage Month has been especially impactful for me because of the work done in NOAA's American Indian Alaska Native Employee Resource Group. Through this group I have had the pleasure to learn more about myself as a co-chair, our members and allies, and how we can learn, educate, and lift each other up as we pursue the mission. I was especially moved by those who'd assisted me in contributing to the beautiful story map we published during National Native American Heritage Month in 2020 and again for 2021. In it we were given a great opportunity to share a glimpse into our personal life's journey that highlights growth over adversity, impacts on how we honor our past as we secure our future, and educate others about the various tribes represented in the NOAA family. Finding a workplace that I can grow as a person, professionally, and have a positive impact as a steward to our nation's resources is both a privilege and honor to my ancestors.