SEE enrollee Barbara Thomas has absolutely no down-time as she supports the busy EPA Region 8 Emergency Response Program in Denver, Colorado and their 16 On-Scene Coordinators (OSCs). Their travel includes on-site evaluations and work direction, continuously updated training/presentations, meetings with Region 8 state and local officials and, of course, emergency responses to oil spills and releases of hazardous substances. This routinely puts Barbara on the hot seat because true emergency travel requires immediate reservations to be made and confirmed by direct telephone contact for whatever is required by an OSC to get there and get on top of the situation.
Her SEE position also requires detailed knowledge of GovTrip, federal travel regulations and complex accounting and billing details in order to process everything properly so it will all be copacetic for the EPA accounting and finance staff on the back end of all these transactions. “What is most challenging and rewarding to me is that my work allows the OSCs to be free of these details so they can just perform their jobs in a timely manner and not have to worry about their needs,” Ms. Thomas explained. She is the key cog that keeps the wheels turning smoothly for this well-oil machine. OSC Mike Zimmerman once told NOWCC staff, “Barbara’s salary is the best money spent by the federal government.”
Before joining the NOWCC SEE Program, Ms. Thomas’s past work experience was quite extensive, covering clerical and administrative support in both private and public settings that included RCA and several institutions of higher education. Ms. Thomas reminisced, “Early in my career at RCA my supervisor provided my most valuable training, setting the pace and expectations of the work to be performed. Later, upon leaving my employment at Ocean City College, my supervisor there told me, ‘Your employment in the Grants Office enabled me to function on a professional level higher than I had before. Our working together taught me the true meaning of supportive staff.’ I truly cherished that compliment.”