Outgoing VPs say goodbye

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Outgoing VPs say goodbye

 The transition of Sandia’s Management and Operating contract from Lockheed Martin to National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia – NTESS — brings with it a changing of the guard at the Labs’ highest leadership levels. In the transition, Labs Director Jill Hruby and nine vice presidents are leaving the Laboratories. On these two pages, departing VPs (not including current acting VPs) share some thoughts about what Sandia has meant to them and their careers, what it means for the nation, and how it can remain vital in the future.

Steve Rottler

Deputy Laboratories Director and Executive VP for National Security Programs

Steve Rottler

In my 32 years at Sandia, each day has been my “best day.” The work has been meaningful, challenging, and rewarding.

I am most gratified by progress we’ve made in our diversity and inclusion efforts.

In many ways, our Sandia population mirrors the population at large — we have similar views, concerns, wants, and needs. It is important that we treat each other with dignity and respect at all times, especially in the face of stress and uncertainty. The nature and importance of our work requires intellectual diversity and the different perspectives that result from our varied backgrounds and life experiences.

When I look at the ways our networking groups have impacted the Labs and our culture, or when I participate in a conversation we wouldn’t have had just 10 years ago, I’m reminded of how far we’ve come. This is not the same Sandia I joined in 1985. Everyone who’s worked here in that timeframe deserves credit for that.

Everyone owns the responsibility to make Sandia a place where people can bring the full measure of themselves to work each day. It takes confronting situations that take us out of our comfort zone and owning the personal baggage and bias we all possess.

While we’ve come a long way on this journey, there is no destination. Sandia is inherently a better place if we have a diverse workforce and it’s a better place today than it was 30 years ago. You should all be proud of this and work toward an even better tomorrow.

Kim Sawyer

Deputy Laboratories Director and Executive VP for Mission Support

In September 2015, Jill Hruby for the first time on her watch signed the annual assessment report addressing the status of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.  (Photo by Stephanie Blackwell)
Kim Sawyer

The goal to be the leading 21st century laboratory excites me as much today as it did when I joined Sandia National Labs in late 2010. We are on the path to success.

Consider the achievements we’ve made in just the past decade. We’ve simplified HR, financial, and procurement processes, modernized IT systems, and used engineered safety to ensure employees go home safely every day.

We have a new code of conduct, new communication approaches, and renewed commitments to a learning environment and to healthier lifestyles. We partnered with Legal, our commitment to diversity and inclusion is stronger than ever, and we’ve improved our transparency with NNSA.

We truly stand out as a leader.

We’ve successfully overcome challenges along the way. Our facilities and infrastructure were aging, but we’ve seen tangible improvements. Safety and security are moving in the right direction. We’ve also raised the bar on quality, measures and metrics, and project management. Functional alignment has matured, creating stronger capabilities. 

If the workforce continues to build on the progress we have made, being the leading 21st century laboratory will be ours for the decades to come.

Jim Chavez

VP, Div. 6000, Energy and Global Security & Global Security Programs

Jim Chavez

For me, Sandia is about people. Yes, Sandia develops unbelievable technology (some of which we can't talk about), but Sandia is also the diverse set of people who operate the facilities and develop those technologies.

These people are the incredible technicians, motor pool workers, engineers, and others who “come to work at Sandia for a couple years” and end up working here 30, 40, and sometimes more than 50 years. You know who you/they are: These are the people who bleed thunderbird blue.

The diversity of these people is a key part of Sandia's culture. Who could have imagined 24 years ago, at the beginning of the Lockheed Martin contract, that Sandia would produce the first female NNSA laboratory director, three Hispanic vice presidents, and have more than 12,000 employees (almost double the number from 24 years ago)!

The diversity of the Sandia workforce has been recognized and celebrated through numerous awards recognizing our employees and their accomplishments. I hope that in 2041 Sandia will still celebrate the diversity of its people and know that the people are the most important asset of the Labs.

Michael Hazen

VP, Div. 4000, Infrastructure Operations

Michael Hazen

Being and serving with fellow Sandians is an honor, privilege, and blessing unmatched in my life.

A Sandian is special — it is not something you can simply declare. It is a badge of honor, hard-earned, and based on shared beliefs that we are serving something greater than ourselves. A Sandian is a leader who honors and makes a personal commitment to the preservation and protection of our nation.

How lucky I am to serve side by side with each of you. I am in awe of all Sandians and what they have done over the many decades to provide exceptional service to our nation.

Thank you for all you do . . .  I am forever grateful for my journey in the company of Sandians.

Rob Leland

VP, Div. 1000, Science and Technology & Chief Technology Officer

Rob Leland

I came to Sandia because it seemed the best place in the country to work in my field, and because I wanted to be a part of something with a higher purpose beyond my own work.

I was drawn to the Labs’ core institutional values that were so evident as to require no explanation — national service and technical excellence. When I welcome new employees to the Labs and reflect with them on its mission and heritage, I find their experience parallels mine 27 years ago. They instinctively understand and honor those core values. That is a remarkable sign of health in the nation’s largest and most diverse research and development laboratory. And it gives me great faith that

Sandia’s tremendous legacy of contribution will continue, because that depends most essentially on the quality and dedication of the workforce — all of you — and on your unwavering commitment to exceptional service in the national interest.

Melonie Parker

VP, Div. 3000 HR and Communications

Melonie Parker
Working alongside the innovative minds of Sandia has been a tremendously rewarding and memorable experience. Every day our workforce contributes to the security of our nation and the betterment of our world. The Labs’ mission presents unique opportunities, and those opportunities are what excite me when I step into Bldg. 802 each morning.

In Division 3000 we are charged with ensuring Sandia is staffed with the skilled and engaged workforce needed to deliver on our national security mission. We also communicate Sandia’s work and impact to the public and our stakeholders, and we support our communities through meaningful outreach programs.

I am heartened by the strides we’ve made in all of those areas. We’re ensuring a diverse and vibrant work environment for those who have dedicated their careers to national security. We’re guaranteeing Sandia is well-positioned to meet its commitments now and in the future. We’re reaching more people than ever with the Sandia story, and we’re connecting with our communities in creative and lasting ways.

I have been honored to be a Sandian and to have been adopted into the Sandia family. In the coming months, I ask that you face forward and share the Labs with the new leadership team in the same spirit of openness and collaboration with which you welcomed me two years ago. We are all invested in the same outcome: a strong Sandia, and a safe and secure future.

James Peery

VP, Div. 5000, Defense Systems & Assessments

James Peery
Defense Systems & Assessments’ spectrum of mission R&D work is enormous, spanning

IED defeat, missile defeat activity at Kauai Test Facility, special communications networks, satellite technologies, counterfeit detection, quantum information sciences, and better ways to assess and respond to proliferation.

We are successful because of two elements. First is partnering science and technology organizations with more applied organizations. Second is aligning our sponsored work along the competencies required for the nuclear weapons program, evolving those competencies, and paying them back into nuclear weapons.

I’ve greatly enjoyed my national laboratory career. What has gotten me up in the morning is being part of innovative teams that help keep our warfighters safe through science and technology.

Critical to this has been the people. It takes everyone pulling together, and we’re fortunate to lead incredibly talented people in every element of the Labs.

Gary Sanders

VP, Div. 2000, Weapons Engineering and Product Realization & Chief Engineer for Nuclear Weapons

Gary Sanders
As I prepare for retirement after 36 years at Sandia, I can look back on some phenomenal accomplishments. I’m struck by how many occurred in the past 24 years under Lockheed Martin’s leadership.

Many of those accomplishments have been instrumental in ensuring the nation leads in weapons capabilities. In the early 1990s, when the Lockheed contract began, there was little nuclear weapons modernization work for the nation. Over the years that followed, Sandia has helped lead realization and testing of America’s three-pronged nuclear capabilities. 

That work culminated most recently on March 14 at the Sandia-operated Tonopah Test Range, when a US Air Force F-16 dropped the first Sandia/Los Alamos/Air Force B61-12 qualification unit. In fact, since February, Sandia has actively participated in a number of critical tests, successfully delivering on all of its commitments — on time and on budget.

It has been an honor to work with such a dedicated group focused on ensuring peace through strategic deterrence. I look forward to hearing about your many future accomplishments.

Marianne Walck

VP, California Div. 8000 & Energy and Climate Programs

Marianne Walck
We have come a long way. I arrived at Sandia 33 years ago as a bit of an outsider: a female scientist (rather than an engineer, and a geophysicist at that!), working mostly in the energy and nonproliferation areas. I did not envision a career that provided so many opportunities for leadership at the laboratory level. It has been a true joy to see the impacts that Sandia’s work in energy and in geosciences has had on the nation. 

We have led the national laboratories’ efforts to safely dispose of radioactive waste in deep geologic repositories, leading to the opening of WIPP for transuranic waste in 1999, and the submission of the Yucca Mountain license application in 2008. We have ensured the safety and security of our nuclear reactor fleet, including evaluating potential impacts of a terrorist attack on civilian nuclear facilities, and use of our MELCOR severe accident code to assess the Fukushima accident in 2011. We developed numerous innovations in renewable energy technologies and improved internal combustion energy efficiency. We saw our historic work on PDC drill bits and microseismic monitoring of hydraulic fractures culminate, through additional industry innovation, in the recent shale gas and oil boom that revolutionized 21st century US energy production.  

I leave Sandia knowing that our technical expertise is exceptional, our commitment is strong, and that there will be many more future Sandia contributions to the nation’s energy security.