DLA Disposition Services Operations Directorate Issue Division Chief
Battle Creek, Michigan
Can you tell us about yourself? I was born in the Traverse City, Michigan, area, lived in Bardstown, Kentucky, for about a year and half when I was a kid, and my parents settled in a little tiny one stoplight town in mid-Michigan when I was in middle school. We owned a horse farm most of my childhood, so I learned a lot of life lessons while on horseback, mucking out stalls, or participating in 4-H as a member and leader. I attended Davenport University where I obtained a few business degrees, ultimately completing a master’s in business administration with a focus in strategic management. I’m married to my best friend and high school sweetheart and I’m a proud mom to a goofy pre-teen boy. We live in the middle of nowhere on a family farm and have three dogs, two cats, and one horse.
Describe your job in a sentence or two. My current position is the Issue Division Chief in the Operations Directorate at DLA Disposition Services Headquarters. I’m responsible for the oversight of the Reutilization, Transfer, Donation Branch and Inventory Branch. Both teams work closely with the field on a daily basis, and we are highly involved in deployment of the Warehouse Management System.
How long have you worked for the federal government? I started with DLA two years after graduating high school so I’m coming up on 17 years of service. I was hired in DLIS as a Summer Hire on a one-year assignment.
How long have you worked for DLA Disposition Services? Almost 16 years now. After my year in DLIS, I was hired in the Student Temporary Experience Program (STEP) in the Defense Reutilization Marketing Services, now known as DLA Disposition Services, Command Office.
What is your favorite thing about your line of work? I love that what we do has an impact on so many people, in so many different ways. From reutilizing critical parts to Warfighters during wartime efforts and providing medical supplies for disaster relief, to supplying computers for non-profit educational activities and clothing for veterans’ organizations, DLA Disposition Services serves the military and the public in a way that not many other organizations can.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you? Stay flexible, stay humble, and stay true to yourself.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? Empathy. I think all leaders need to be able to relate to people from all walks of life so they can see the world as others see it. It helps decision making processes and keeps you grounded.
How would you describe your leadership style and why has it worked so well for you? I think I have a situational leadership style because I try my best to meet the needs of my team and specific situations. I think it is more productive to meet people where they are and go from there.
Tell us how you approach change. I approach change with an open mind. Change is inevitable and, sometimes, resisting can just make life miserable. I find that it’s better to learn as much as you can about the change and adapt your processes as soon as you have all the information you need to make smart adjustments.
What do you look for when evaluating top talent? I like to look for individuals that can balance being curious and driven, but also decisive and accountable. I find these traits make the most impact in difficult times. I also think it’s very important to consider the biggest challenges the role may face and the current team dynamic when evaluating potential candidates.
What are your best practices for achieving goals or accomplishing tasks? Definitively, staying organized. I have a system for organizing/categorizing my inbox so that I read every email and immediately take initial action on it (whether that is delete, file, task someone, put in my to do list, etc). If I have more than 20 unread emails in my inbox, I start to get a little nervous. 😊 I try to keep notes in one location to minimize wasting time searching for something that occurred weeks ago. I also set up reminders on my calendar often.
Why is networking to build professional relationships so important in achieving success? Through my career, I’ve found that you never know who you will work with or for. That person that you helped with a random issue years ago, may end up being someone that can help you with a project later in your career. Never discount simple interactions with people because those interactions are the basis for building long-term professional relationships. That is networking in its simplest form. It doesn’t have to be forced or uncomfortable. Those relationships are gateways for you to achieve success because they open doors to special projects and opportunities you may not have had access to previously.
What mistakes have you seen individuals make that prevent them from being successful? Lack of personal accountability is the number one thing that I’ve noticed that holds people back. When you are unable to take ownership for your actions and what happens as a result of those actions, you are setting yourself up for failure.
What do you think about when you hear Women’s History Month? I think about all the women before me that made a difference in our lives today.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you? To me, Women’s History Month means celebrating the successes of women, empowering women, highlighting women’s achievements, and discussing real world concerns women still face that need to be addressed.
Tell us something unique about your heritage or country of origin. My heritage of German, Scandinavian, Polish, and Native American descent. I come from a long line of strong, hardworking women.
What is one thing you’d like others to know about your heritage? Stemming from my Scandinavian background, my family, especially the women, embody a concept known as sisu. Sisu is a Finnish notion that roughly translates as tenacity of purpose, grit, strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. Sisu is not a momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage. I learned a lot about this concept watching my mom and aunts overcome one tough obstacle after another throughout my childhood, so I try my best to represent sisu every day in my life.
Why is it important to you that we celebrate Women’s History Month? I believe it’s very important to remember where we have come from, but not to stay there. We need to learn from the past and apply that knowledge to make the future better for everyone.
Name your favorite/recent book(s) you have read. I recently finished Dare to Lead by Brené Brown but my favorite non-fiction books are anything written by Jon Gordon.
What was your first job? Besides mucking stalls on the farm, my first W2 job was a cook at a local pizzeria.
What is your best memory of working here? My short deployment to Kuwait was definitely a memorable one. I learned and matured a lot during my time there and I built lasting relationships with some great folks during that deployment. It’s the only time I’ve been at a customer facing site and it’s when I decided that Disposition Services is where I belonged and where I wanted my career.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a veterinarian but didn’t want to go to school for 8 more years…. then I went to school for 10 more. 😊
Who is your hero? My Dad. He was a Vietnam-era Army veteran and served during a time when people were not so kind to veterans. After being injured in the service, he was a successful manufacturing engineer for many years. He was the first person in his family to go to college, was an incredibly hard worker, and was always selfless and humble. Even though he passed in 2012, I still try my best to make him proud.
What are your hobbies? I enjoy walking and running outside all year round, hunting whitetail deer, fishing and bowfishing on local lakes, riding our UTVs, mushroom hunting, riding my horse, and baking. My family also loves to go ‘glamping’ in our fifth wheel travel trailer.