Aloha, I’m Michelle Mansker, and I’m a Senior Program Analyst for NOAA Fisheries' Pacific Islands Regional Office. As a member of our senior leadership team, I am responsible for helping to set office policy for our staff and ensuring we have a positive, supportive office culture. I created and teach a mid-level leadership class for our office. It focuses on key competencies that will help junior staff go on to achieve greatness.
I was born and raised in Clarence, New York. While I was growing up, my parents owned and operated a vegetarian restaurant. Our customers would often bring in news articles and magazines of interest. I became interested in science and the preservation of our natural resources when I came across an article about the effects of tuna fishing on wild dolphin populations. I wanted to know what I could do to help with issues like this. To that end, I became the first person in my family to graduate from college and to have a Master’s degree. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Coastal Carolina University and went on to receive a Master’s in Botany from the University of Hawaiʻi.
I have been a civil servant for more than 20 years. I started my career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a botanist. I moved on to manage the Department of Defense’s largest Natural Resource Program for the Army Garrison Hawaiʻi. In that position, I helped save species from extinction and balance the military’s mission with its natural resource management responsibilities.
I have always been passionate about caring for our natural resources and being the voice for those who cannot speak. Somewhere along the way, I learned that I also have a passion for helping to shape organizational culture to ensure that staff have a positive work environment. I came to NOAA Fisheries in 2015 and have been responsible for helping to shape our regional office’s culture ever since.
Like most other women in science, I have faced my share of struggles. These issues lit a fire in me to help the next generation of female scientists navigate their careers, and I have mentored many women. I am passionate about the issues of diversity and inclusion and look forward to continuing to help us achieve a more diverse and welcoming environment for all.
Women’s History Month is a time for us to reflect on and celebrate those who have come before us and shattered the glass ceiling to allow us to now reach for the stars. As Maya Angelou once said: “Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women.”