Sandians support national security mission
In support of the Nuclear Deterrence Modernization Efforts Rally Cry, Lab News continues to highlight employees and the variety of ways that they contribute to Sandia’s core mission. Lab News will run these short stories in future editions and online. Read more profiles from previous editions.
4 years at Sandia
Katrina has supported the W80-4 program in various roles since joining Sandia in October 2017. She recently reflected on what drew her to the Labs.
“It was the opportunity to support mission-driven work — the feeling of contributing my knowledge and experience to support our nation,” she said.
“The W80-4 program is critical to our nation’s nuclear deterrence posture. In my current role, I take pride in leading teams to proactively address problems and resolve issues, as well as distilling programmatic information to develop proposals for decision-makers.”
It’s those issues along with collaboration and other benefits that Katrina appreciates about Sandia.
“It’s the mission, people and work-life balance,” she said. “I enjoy collaborating with administrative, business and technical team members and various levels of management to support programmatic success.”
— David Hill
Environmental technical professional
3 years at Sandia
Sam’s work as a specialist in National Environmental Policy Act guidance for nuclear deterrence contributes to national security by streamlining communication and document preparation between Sandia’s line partners and environmental experts to achieve compliance with federal, state and municipal environmental statutes and regulations.
His expertise with NEPA empowers Sandia’s nuclear deterrence partners to avoid compliance complications before they materialize.
“I get to look at a proposed test area, facility or any mission work and think about how the work can best coexist with Sandia’s environmental stewardship mission and minimize or mitigate environmental impacts,” he said. “I get to collaborate with Sandia’s best and brightest to help keep our national security mission moving forward in the right way.”
His work supports vital collaboration between ES&H coordinators, facilities partners, technicians and management, so they can work together to understand the planning process and how their work impacts the environment, with a goal of supporting future mission work.
— Dan Ware
Director of weapons stockpile management
28 years at Sandia
As director of weapons stockpile management, Chris is integrally involved with and responsible for a wide breadth of programs supporting our nation’s nuclear deterrence. Chris leads a team of senior managers, managers, team leads and approximately 400 technologists, scientists and engineers. Chris’ team is responsible for competencies, budgets, personnel safety, tools, equipment, capabilities, labs, facilities and a test range.
Chris is inspired and motivated by the people he works with and the mission. He is proud of the hard work and accomplishments, the resiliency and dedication, and the agility and commitment of this team. Chris recognizes that much work in the recent months has included navigating during a global pandemic.
“Throughout the pandemic, our team did an outstanding job to meet all customer commitments and demonstrated Sandia’s excellent service in the national interest,” he said. “The need for Sandia to continue to meet our nation’s national security mission is essential.”
Chris has fond memories of working side-by-side with a talented workforce on key nuclear deterrence programs.
“I’ve seen our teams step up to meet challenging mission deliverables, and I’m confident we will do it again,” he said. “Sandia is an outstanding place to work.”
— Laura Sowko
Program communications specialist
18 years at Sandia
Whitney started her Sandia career in 2004 as a technical writer in the Military Liaison group, drafting and refining maintenance manuals for weapons programs.
Currently, Whitney supports the ND executives — Laura McGill, Rita Gonzales and Steve Girrens. The role, Whitney said, gives her a higher-level view of Sandia’s programs and a relationship with leadership as a trusted communications adviser. Whitney supports the ND call to action by preparing talking points, presentations, near- and long-term communication plans, and responding to employees’ questions.
When she first took the job at Sandia supporting the ND program, Whitney reassured her parents her work was noble.
“What we’re doing in nuclear weapons is a good thing because nuclear weapons already exist,” she said. “You can’t ignore them, and my job, by writing these manuals, is to make sure the weapons stay safe and secure.”
Whitney now ensures Sandia’s ND leaders have clear messages, she said. “I’m helping the executives get their messages across and answer some tough questions. Their workload is very intense, and my role is to make it easier for them to do their jobs.”
— Valerie Alba
Jason Joe Phillips
Research and development, science and engineering
11 years at Sandia
Jason has a passion for explosives, so handling them every day makes him glad to come to work in the morning. But he also loves to teach and support others. He was hired to do two jobs: start up a sensitivity testing lab and instruct a class on improvised explosives.
“I taught at New Mexico Tech, so I already knew I liked it. But teaching a classroom of 20 Marines about explosives, that kind of solidified it for me. A big part of my job now is training, mentoring and qualifying people to work with explosives safely and efficiently,” he said. “We’re kind of just cogs in the entire system, so it can be hard to see the impact we’re having. I’m in a support-based role. I feel like I’m enabling a lot of really important work.
“I wasn’t able to serve in the military, so I support the mission this way.”
— Antonia Cardella