NOAA Alaska Regional Coordinator
As NOAA’s Regional Coordinator for Alaska, I work with colleagues from all of the NOAA line offices and with people from other federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and industry to tackle issues in the state that no single organization can solve on its own. It’s rewarding to be part of the NOAA regional collaboration team effort. I represent NOAA in Alaska and am the agency’s eyes and ears for what’s going on in the state.
I love how direct an impact many of our programs have on people’s lives. From charts and tide books to shellfish poisoning test kits and lesson plans on remotely operated vehicles to teach kids about marine science, our neighbors rely on us!
The hardest part of my job is seeing all the opportunities to help our stakeholders, customers, and partners, and not being able to do them all.
I have undergraduate degrees in Japanese studies and international relations. When I was living in Japan, I realized I missed being involved in science, so I went to graduate school for a master’s of public administration in environmental policy and administration. Having training in both science and working with people of different backgrounds and perspectives has been a great mix for building connections between programs in NOAA.
Growing up on Lake Erie inspired my interest in the ocean and coasts. My first introduction to NOAA came from hearing the marine forecast on my grandmother’s radio when I was seven or eight. As I got older, I learned to sail, and became aware of the pollution problems in the Great Lakes. So when I decided to get back into science via environmental policy, I returned to my roots and focused on Great Lakes issues. Now I’m in Alaska, where two-thirds of the communities are only accessible via sea or air, and life or death literally depends on NOS and NOAA products and services.
I knew I wanted to work in an Earth science agency. A friend of mine was representing NOAA at a job fair and said, “Hey, we do Earth science!” I interviewed for one of the positions being offered and have worked at NOAA ever since. Building networks and relationships really makes a difference!
Build yourself a strong base of skills and follow your passion. If I could start from scratch, I would study a combination of science and business or science and policy. From there, continually ask yourself, “What do I want to do?” and look for ways to do it. Keep an open mind and you’ll find there are more possibilities than you’d expect!