What’s Behind My Passions and Sometimes Obsessions?
This blog is to help my families better understand who I was, what I did, and where my passion came from during my professional career–it was the people, the challenges and opportunities to be creative and grow as a person and a professional with a true dedication and commitment that went beyond just getting a job done–examples that I hope were instilled in my children and grandchildren!
Around 1993 (13 years after starting work at the Census Bureau), my career as a research and marketing professional was really blossoming. Beginning in 1980, I reinvented myself and left private industry for the federal government. When I was first interviewed, human resources told me that my lack of college and university degrees would mean forgetting the para- and professional roles I had once held in private industry. This meant starting over in the administrative/clerical pool. What a blow to my paycheck and my sense of well being. But, I weighed the benefits and opportunities and took a leap of faith. I trusted God, myself, my quick learning abilities, and professional skill sets that I believed would serve me well in my new journey.
And when I retired from the Census Bureau 32 years later in 2011 much had changed, including me. In the third of a century I worked there, the World, the agency, emergent technologies and uses of them at home and in the work place underwent massive changes, forcing me to embrace change and sometimes be the catalyst for it.
I had many challenges and wonderful opportunities along the way. I was always learning and sharing and reinventing ways to increase visibility and understanding about the importance of the agency and the works done by its staff. As a mid-level manager, many of my supervisors and agency directors acknowledged my initiatives. For the most part they all supported my suggestions and allowed me to grow exponentially as a person and professional.
To reinvent myself and become successful, meant stepping out of my comfort zone. I fought off two of my biggest fears–close social interactions and making presentations. I am forever grateful for taking those risks and having the guidance and patience of those who led and supported me along my way.
Most of my favorite and successful roles and projects involved researching, writing, and making presentations that sometimes engaged me with counterpart professionals from around the world. With each professional conference we would share experiences and challenges in our every day tasks of collecting and sharing information and experience. The mostly annual meetings generated cyclical rebirths and zealousness to push the paradigms of research and marketing a little more. And the byproducts were multiple forms and venues that helped people and businesses make informed decisions based upon statistics that came from our agency. As the agency evolved its information sharing techniques, people and businesses who never before were aware of the existence or depth of the information available learned they could get what they needed from us for free. Repeatedly, each professional forum of open sharing revealed worldwide commonalities among us, our projects, and our tasks that involved emergiing technologies for collecting and distributing information and more focus on understanding new and potential audiences’ needs and desires. And along the way, I met many great people, visited many interesting places, learned much about different cultures and traditions. And, despite our different languages spoken and sometimes different government ideologies and funding structures, we found that our contributions were welcomed and appreciated beyond the brick and mortar of where we each lived and worked. Mutual acceptance and respect of international counterparts was an absolutely exhilarating and reinvigorating experience that pushed my passion for learning and sharing what I learned with others to new levels.
Overcoming my fears to initiate or take on new and different tasks–my second most favorite project was partnering with the video and broadcast professionals in and outside of my agency. I had written a script about “The Census Bureau at Work,” to inform Americans who we are, what we do, and how America benefits from the statistics collected. It was titled, “Informing America“. We partnered together and created a video to share through the agency’s various information and marketing channels. In it first rendition, we mastered it as a VHS tape. The video’s information remained relevant and it was remastered as a DVD, and, its ageless parts have been used in subsequent works.
So to my work family– my supervisors, colleagues, and friends–I just want to give you a long-overdue thank you for openly guiding and exchanging information and experiences. Some of my early mentors have passed; like Marshall Turner, who you see in the opening scenes of the an edited excerpt of the original video (excerpt created by yours truly), and Debbie Barrett who supported and mentored me in the very beginning of my professional growth period. Others have retired like Michael Garland, who gave me my first break outside the administrative tract in the agency; Paul Zeisset, who has a brilliant mind and was relentless in “getting it just right;” and to John Kavaliunas, my longest term supervisor, who always treated me as a professional and colleague, who trusted my instincts and allowed me to unleash my initiative. And a special thanks, too, to my special friend Colleen Flannery, who despite the odds given us at introduction, became first a professional counterpart, then a supporter and project partner on several initiatives, and in post-retirement, she’s like a sister. We had some great times representing the agency and in some instances the United States in annual professional meetings and when entertaining and playing with others during the socials.
To my colleague, Victor Romero, who was there and helped turn a flat script into a living story, and invited me to participate in the studio editing and mixing of the video, and to “the voice,” Cheryl Chambers, who gave the video story its personality, while we all had great fun doing it–thank you both.