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Tell us a little about finding your identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. How do you feel your experience has changed with time?

I began to identify with the LGBTQ+ community in college, maybe high school (but didn’t quite understand it until college). It was a challenging time because I wasn’t sure how my friends and family would react. I started to feel like I was always hiding something from everyone, being careful to not be too specific about who I liked or was hanging out with, it felt like I was lying to everyone, becoming defensive if someone questioned my sexuality.

After college, when I went abroad to get my masters’, I was in a new place where no one knew me, and I felt like I could explore my feelings and discover who I was without any shame, judgement, or fear that someone I knew might see me out on a date. When I came back home, I finally felt free and sense of self, belonging, and acceptance of who I am. I could share with my family and friends, and thankfully, had a positive experience when I came out to them. I know others, including some close friends, did not have the experience I had, and have continued to struggle, and some who are still not out or fully able to accept themselves.

Getting to know people in the LGBTQ+ community helped me feel safe, and I hope I can be that person for others who are still struggling. This truly is a community, and we are all here for each other. I now feel truly myself and am confident in my abilities. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t define who I am and what I am capable of, but it is a part of me and makes me stronger. I hope I can be a positive example for others.

Why do you think diversity and inclusion are important in the workplace?

Diversity and inclusion are important in the workplace because it allows for a workforce that reflects the population of the nation. When people from all backgrounds are represented, they have more trust in those making decisions because they can see themselves in those places. Hopefully, this eliciting a deeper sense of trust in an organization. This will also enhance the workplace by enabling diverse and innovative thought, stemming from both different and shared experiences that can positively change and influence the mission of an organization. 

Tell us something interesting about yourself; what do you like to do for fun or in your downtime?

In my downtime, I like to watch action/drama/comedy tv shows or movies. I also like to read and travel. My favorite places to travel are anywhere with a beach. I also love to play tennis (the only sport I am good at) and have been playing since college. Lastly, while my work at NNSA is important, my favorite activity is working with high school students on leadership development. I work with roughly 300 high school students every summer to develop their skills and provide them training they need to be effective and impactful leaders on their campuses.