More than 30 years ago, the United States Congress declared March as Women's History Month, a time when the nation honors past, current, and emerging female leaders.
This year, NSA honors some of our cryptologic pioneers who foster change and shape the workplace for the better. We asked several of these women to shed some light on their personal stories, which make all of us stronger on the whole.
Rima S. on leading change and empowerment:
"Over the course of my life, I've seen many advances for women. I recall in school, I was one of two women enrolled in my advanced math classes. Throughout my career in government service, I have sought opportunities to be a trailblazer for women. For example, I am proud to be one of the first women to design leadership training at the National Fire Academy."
As Chair of the Women's Employee Resource Group (ERG) at NSA, Rima works to ensure that the Agency's leadership is diverse. NSA ERGs promote equal employment opportunities and create spaces for unique mentoring and networking.
Mariza M. on impacting NSA's pivotal research:
"My inspiration is Marie Curie! Her successes broke down many barriers, paving the path for our success today. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, as well as the first person (and only woman) to win two Nobel Prizes in different fields. She never gave up on her dreams or passion and that inspires me daily to keep pushing."
As a researcher in the Laboratory of Analytic Sciences, Mariza's favorite thing about working at NSA is the opportunity to constantly learn new skills and utilize her leadership and technical expertise to advance mission critical projects.
Brynn C. on re-inventing yourself:
"I began working for NSA just a few years ago after a long career in industry as a consultant. One of the main reasons I would encourage others to work for NSA is the ability to reinvent yourself time and again throughout your career. It is extremely enticing."
As a recent lead for one of NSA's prominent Computer Network Operations teams and now heading a mission management team, Brynn knows how important it is to give life your best shot every day. She aims to inspire the next generation of women to fearlessly take on new adventures at all stages of life.
Jessica G. on transforming the workplace:
"As a mother, I appreciate the support that NSA provides for working moms. We have an excellent nursing mothers program. My leadership is very supportive of work-life balance and allows me the flexibility to care for my children. Additionally, NSA spends a great deal of resources investing in its employees. I've completed multiple training opportunities with external academic institutions and taken many courses through the National Cryptologic School, on topics ranging from language to leadership."
An oral historian at NSA, Jessica recognizes that a vital part of changing the future is to remember the past. NSA trailblazers like Polly Budenbach, Juanita Moody, and Ann Caracristi have inspired her to ensure that past stories of struggles and triumphs are never forgotten.
Caitlin B. on recruiting top talent:
"I lead NSA's external recruitment marketing, outreach, and testing division. Daily, I encourage others to consider working at NSA for many reasons, but it always boils down to the mission. It's the ability to do what you love, with opportunities ranging from STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to business to human resources to security and more. Working on anything at NSA means you are doing work that defends and protects the nation. As a working mom, one of the most gratifying feelings I've had while working here is knowing my children are sleeping safely at night as a result of my work and the work of my colleagues throughout the Intelligence Community."
The work ethic of former NSA leaders like Debora Plunkett push Caitlin to work hard, too. Recruiting the best and the brightest for NSA is something she takes pride in pursuing. Visit www.intelligencecareers.gov/nsa to learn more about a future at NSA.
Pamela P. on rooting for the underdog:
"One of the most impactful things throughout my journey at NSA has been the opportunity to protect our nation. I feel empowered by those that came before me. Famous women like Eleanor Roosevelt who have changed history - I can too. Amazing accomplishments from revolutionaries like Joan of Arc - I can too. Women who dared to do the impossible like Rosa Parks - I do too."
Pamela works in Program Management and is passionate about empowering the underdog. On many occasions, NSA granted her the opportunity to travel across the nation helping small business owners partner with NSA. As co-chair for the People with Disabilities ERG, she continues to encourage and educate others on the importance of equality.
Jennifer N. on paying homage:
"Women's History Month honors the women who came before us who worked hard to ensure women are recognized as equals in the workforce and opportunities are available for everyone today, regardless of gender. I'm currently reading The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and The Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies, a biography of the cryptologic pioneer Elizebeth Friedman, and it is remarkable to hear how much groundwork she laid for women within the cryptologic community and across the Intelligence Community. It is easy to take for granted the assumption that women will be given fair consideration in today's work environment, but stories like Elizebeth's remind us that it wasn't always this way and that we owe a debt of gratitude to those women who came before us."
Jennifer is the Director of a technical development program and is passionate about helping others pursue unique opportunities to make strong contributions to NSA and the Intelligence Community's mission.
Melinda W. on why the mission never sleeps:
"Working at NSA for nearly two decades, partially while enlisted in the United States Army, has been an exciting experience. As a senior ops officer, excitement is just one of the great aspects of my job. In my role, 24/7/365 coverage is necessary to combat bad actors. The constant pursuit to win that fight is what has kept me at NSA over the years. I also appreciate the flexibility within my job to keep things interesting. You have the ability to analyze the same foreign target or analyze multiple foreign targets. Your career is yours for the making."