Sandia LabNews

Answering the call

Sandians support national security mission

Lab News is again highlighting the Nuclear Deterrence Modernization Efforts Rally Cry with short employee profiles showcasing how each of us can and does support Sandia’s core mission. We launched this series on July 28 and will continue to run these stories in future editions and online.

All the employees profiled for this project have one thing in common: They are answering the call.

Joanna Gardner

Cybersecurity researcher
10 years at Sandia

Image of Sandia cybersecurity researcher Joanna Gardner

Joanna started as an undergrad intern at Sandia, became a graduate intern and was then hired as a staff member — all in the same department. She said as an intern she recognized that what she does is important. “Even as a little cog in the big machine, if I was doing my job well, everyone could do their jobs well. We’re all important.

“When I think about what I do, I’m bowled over. In my job, I get to lead a small team to strategize cyber implementation for Sandia’s nuclear deterrent manufacturing,” she said. “That means I am the subject matter expert in security operations, data and systems in support of building and testing parts. If my data is unreliable, so are the parts. It matters to me to know that my efforts directly affect national security. My family and friends are safer because I do what I do every day.”

— Antonia Cardella

Caleb Roy

Production engineer
6 years at Sandia

Image of Sandia production engineer Caleb Roy

As a mechanical engineer working in nuclear deterrence, Caleb recently accepted a new position in Sandia’s advanced product realization because he noticed how the department’s focus on customer responsiveness and problem solving accelerated the product life cycle.

“I want to help fill the gap to meet the critical needs of the nation,” said Caleb. “This new role resonates with me because I can make an impact and help provide quality products at a rapid pace.”

Caleb recognized how the group’s flexible and responsive approach is tackling crucial and quickly changing national security challenges.

“We were able to deliver on an urgent request from a customer and field a system by moving through design to production in approximately half the time it typically takes while still meeting all the quality requirements for war-reserve use,” he said.

— Jill Janov-Kelly

Malia Orell

Strategic planner
10 years at Sandia

Image of Sandia strategic planner Malia Orell

Malia has led several corporate planning efforts that have improved the way Sandia understands, plans and funds capital facilities and infrastructure projects, and she’s led the nuclear deterrence program’s facilities and infrastructure capital investment planning for 10 years.

Malia led ND through assessing the current and future state of facilities, identifying gaps and planning needed investments to sustain key capabilities. Additionally, she has been instrumental in the long-range strategic planning that has led to Sandia delivering its first line-item project, Power Sources Capability, in nearly 20 years.

“My role has morphed over the years, depending on where planning focus was needed, which makes for a very interesting career,” Malia said. “I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in several important ND facility projects as well as corporate investments that have benefited Sandia as a whole.”

Malia also led a multidisciplinary, cross-divisional team through the development of the new Sandia Infrastructure Investment Planning Process, integrating numerous disparate data collection processes into one call to identify and rank facilities and infrastructure needs. This enabled the Labs to clearly communicate investment needs and priorities to sponsors. The team received an Employee Recognition Award and a LOS Continuous Improvement Award.

— Valerie McKinney

Christopher Lino

Molecular biologist
8 years at Sandia

Image of Sandia molecular biologist Chris Lino

Chris joined Sandia as a postdoctoral appointee. He spent four years working in biodefense before he took on a different role as an Environment, Safety & Health coordinator supporting the nuclear deterrence program and weapons stockpile management.

“When working in a lab on experiments, safety and critical thinking are woven into everything you do,” Chris said. “No matter your background, problem solving and collaborating to finding solutions to complex issues are skills that can be applied in all areas at Sandia. Just like when an experiment reveals new or unexpected evidence, we have to be able to work the problem with all available information.”

Now a manager in ES&H, Chris encourages other ES&H coordinators who support ND programs to bring their creativity, viewpoints and critical thinking skills to solve problems and find efficiencies. Safety and environmental requirements can often bring about compliance challenges, but Chris and fellow ES&H professionals focus on helping find effective, collaborative solutions that keep ND and weapons stockpile management programs operating safely.

— Karli Massey

Jennifer Awe

Corporate communications specialist
10 years at Sandia

Image of Sandia communications specialist Jennifer Awe
Lab News file photo

There’s always a story to tell in nuclear deterrence, and Jennifer tells them. In her 10 years at Sandia, she’s shared the voices of Executive Vice Presidents and Deputy Labs Directors Jerry McDowell, Steve Rottler and Laura McGill; Associate Lab Directors Steve Girrens and Rita Gonzales; and Advanced Systems and Transformation Director Ernie Wilson. The breadth and depth of ND never leave her at a loss for words.

“The topics surrounding nuclear weapons are incredibly complex, but I’ve seen many examples of what can happen when we tell a cohesive story,” Jennifer said. “When we communicate clearly to help people understand what we do, why we do it and why we need support, decision-makers can rally behind us.”

Her audiences vary greatly from the nation’s most senior advisers to the broader public. Her portfolio includes drafting congressional testimony, speech writing, internal communications, message development and communications strategies and products.

“I feel fortunate to work within Sandia’s core mission,” she said. “I’ve learned so much and played a small role in teams that speak directly to our nation’s leaders. Addressing communication challenges makes me feel like I’m contributing to the greater, collective mission of national security, and that’s motivating.”

— Nancy Salem

How will you answer the call?

On June 23, Labs Director James Peery put out a call for all Sandians to support critical Nuclear Deterrence modernization efforts. The need to accelerate nuclear weapons modernization is a top national priority as China multiplies its arsenal and Russia threatens nuclear war.

Employees can go to the Nuclear Deterrence Modernization Efforts Rally Cry internal website to let Sandia know how they can answer the call or submit questions.