For the third installment in the NNSA’s Women in Defense Programs series, meet Katie Duncan. This Tennessee graduate’s passion for World War II history led to her role at NNSA as a uranium expert supporting our nuclear stockpile, from the next uranium processing facility to restoring manufacture of depleted uranium.
How do you support NNSA?
I’m a federal program manager in the Defense Programs Secondary Production Modernization Office. We are responsible for executing the NNSA’s strategy to reestablish the depleted uranium manufacturing processes necessary for the projected needs of the nuclear weapons mission.
How did you become interested in the field in which you operate? How did you end up on this career path That much ?
Prior to my senior year at the University of Tennessee, I interned in the supply chain management department of United Cleanup Oak Ridge in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In support of the mission of the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, UCOR led the decommissioning and decommissioning effort of the K25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Gaseous diffusion was one of three isotope separation processes that provided the uranium-235 for Little Boy, Hiroshima’s weapon.
I have always been fascinated by the history of WWII, especially the Manhattan Project’s close ties to East Tennessee. I met great colleagues and attended conferences and events on behalf of UCOR. I remember the President of UCOR saying, “Your internship has the potential to shape your career if you let it.
After graduation, I worked on procurement for the Y-12 National Security Complex at the Uranium Processing Facility, NNSA’s largest design and construction project. The UPF will provide a new ground surface and include processing capabilities for enriched uranium casting, oxide production, and recovery and accounting operations.
I accepted a Service Support Contractor position with NNSA in March 2020, providing supply chain and project management expertise to execute a comprehensive capacity and infrastructure modernization strategy. enriched uranium needed to support the NNSA’s three primary missions.
Finally, I became a federal employee in May 2022. As a program manager, I am responsible for assessing and advising current DU fabrication capabilities and infrastructure to meet future inventory requirements. ‘nuclear weapons.
What is one of your favorite things about working at the NNSA?
Every federal public service employee takes an oath on the first day of employment. One of my favorite lines from the oath is to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.” This particular line instills in me a sense of duty that I take very seriously. Our scope of work at NNSA is essential and of utmost importance. I am honored and privileged to work for such an inspiring organization that is securing the future of our nation.
Within the Office of Defense Programs, many women hold leadership positions that set the tone and expectations for excellence and inclusion. I greatly appreciate the ongoing efforts to change the culture of our workforce.
What are the characteristics of the best teams in which you have played?
During a recent program review, my team received a compliment from Los Alamos National Laboratory management for the “unprecedented energy” we exhibit. My colleagues are ambitious, inspiring and fascinating. We come from diverse backgrounds and leverage our strengths to achieve our goals. Collaborative, inclusive and diverse teams breed success.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do for NNSA?
I recently heard a quote from Marie Colvin that resonates strongly with me: “Be passionate and involved in what you believe in, and do it as completely, honestly, and fearlessly as you can.”
My advice would be to be open to all learning opportunities. Join after-school groups, attend networking events, express your interest in leading stretch assignments, and invest in a mentor you admire. By dreaming the greatest of dreams and working as diligently, honestly and fearlessly as possible, doors to fantastic opportunities will open for you.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy exploring the rich history of our nation’s capital with its museums and monuments, and also exploring on my travels – I recently went to Alaska for the first time. I’m also a big foodie and I love trying new recipes and new restaurants. I enjoy planning social events for our office and am involved with the University of Tennessee alumni chapter here in Washington DC