NOWCC's Newest Board Member
As the newest member of our Board of Directors, Ms. Ellen Tunstall brings over 35 years of human resources experience to NOWCC. While most of Ms. Tunstall’s career has been devoted to federal agencies, culminating in key leadership positions with the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Defense, her first experience with government service occurred while still in college as a summer aid in the District of Columbia’s Department of Public Health.
Her journey of public service afforded Ms. Tunstall opportunities to work on many “challenges,” from managing the operations of the largest health and life insurance programs in the country, with over four million enrollees and almost $3 billion in annual premiums, to the oversight of civilian personnel programs in Iraq. The stimulating aspect of facing a ‘challenge’ – as teaching moments, as opportunities to grow, as sources of insight, and perhaps as part adventure – is a theme in her outlook toward life that extends to her perspective toward retirement, i.e., the challenge of a meaningful retirement.
In a recent conversation Ms. Tunstall discussed how she would like to contribute her experiences with employment policy and federal workforce issues to the National Older Worker Career Center, NOWCC. Though she is still learning about NOWCC, Ellen believes her initial contributions to the organization will be to bring creative ideas on how NOWCC can better work with the two federal agencies for which it operates older worker employment programs. For example, Ellen expressed an interest in NOWCC’s outreach and communications, and in looking at ways to refine and perhaps improve those efforts.
Ms. Tunstall appreciates that the older worker model programs NOWCC manages are a viable alternative for federal agencies that are confronting workforce challenges. The availability of another flexible workforce option, particularly one that provides experienced job-ready workers, is timely because of the growing percentage of the civilian workforce that will be eligible to retire.
"The federal government does sidewalks to satellites and everything in between," she says. The challenge is to identify, recruit and enable a workforce to meet such a broad array of needs. Ellen has been a long-standing proponent of building a strong workforce through experience and diversity – of gender, race, background and age: “there are all kinds of diversity in the workforce, not just gender or race, but diversity in terms of background, skills and ways of looking at things. I think that where you have a good mix of those kinds of experiences you are going to be better equipped as an organization.” Ms. Tunstall further believes that the rewards of working with government are many, including the old fashioned notion that "you're serving the people of your country."
When asked about her perspective on older workers, her immediate response is “I am one”. She further explained that having tried retirement almost five years ago, she decided to return to the workforce. “I’ve retired once. Will I do it again? As long as I’m having fun and facing new challenges, I will still be in the work force.” Ellen is currently a senior advisor with a strategic consulting firm that specializes in human capital issues within the federal arena.
Ellen Tunstall brings a lifetime of experience of public service, an impressive resume demonstrating the ability to solve workforce issues, and a personal connection with the older worker that will help the NOWCC Board grow and the organization achieve its considerable potential.