Member of the Week: Denise Hill

Denise Hill Organization: U.S. Department of Energy Supporting Links: www.energy.gov; www.energy.gov/open

1. What was your path to public service/current job? After college, I started working as a retail manager, excited to have my first post-college job and for the adventures that lay ahead. Growing up, many of my relatives, including my mom, had careers in the federal government. My mom’s uncle was the first Black in the Baltimore City Police Department. My dad was hired shortly there after. In other words, our family was always involved in some activity that resulted in helping others and facilitating change. Needless to say, my parents encouraged me to follow their path when I set my course in private industry. I agreed to give it a try and landed a position with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Once I started learning more about Social Security programs and the people that benefited from these programs, my path to public service was set. In addition to my “day job,” I have worked on different causes through volunteering, including holding computer training courses, building houses in Nicaragua, and most recently, a visit to the Kibera Slums in Kenya with a group from Cross Cultural Thresholds to build school rooms for the Drug Fighters school.

2. What awesome projects are you working on now? I am working on a few different projects spanning multiple disciplines. I was leading the DOE pilot of Google Applications (see Information Week article dated April 21, 2010). Open Government is on the top of my “awesome projects” list, having published the DOE Open Government Plan on April 7th of this year.

3. What have been some of your most memorable experiences in public service? Memorable is being able to work for Agencies with missions that directly serve the public. I’ve provided leadership, from inception, on modernization projects that resulted in the streamlined delivery of benefits to the public and increased efficiency and effectiveness of internal processes.

4. What advice do you have for people who are new to the public sector? Listen: Come with your listening ears on. Career civil servants welcome your expertise, ideas and energy. Listening to wise advice and guidance will aid you in converting ideas to reality. Network: Among the many benefits of networking is identifying opportunities for collaboration and sharing. Get a mentor: Mentors can help you make the most of your public service experience. Enjoy.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Great advice – listen, network, and get a mentor. I’d love to hear more about the story surrounding your mom’s uncle and the Baltimore City Police Department – when it happened and the challenges that he had to overcome to obtain and retain that job. What a legacy of public service!

Kitty Wooley

YAY Denise! This is fabulous advice for every public servant – thanks. I’m with Andy; I’d like to hear more.

Denise Hill

Kitty Hey! I am always glad to hear from you. Andy and Kitty, Here is an extract of the BCPD history.

As of a 2000 publishedin 2003, BPD is the 8th largest municipal police department in the United States with a total of 3,034 police officers. The BCPD was historically Irish American. Violet Hill was hired as a non-uniformed officer in 1937. African American officers were finally allowed to wear police uniforms in 1943. By 1950 there were 50 African American officers. While considered fully integrated in 1966, discrimiation still existed. I remember my dad, with a college degree, taking the Sargent’s exam several times. One approach used was to cancel test if non-whites scored at or near the top of the list. Another approach, as an example, if there were 4 vacancies and African Americans were in positions 2, 3, or 4 only up to that number were filled.
Prior to 1966, African American officers were limited to foot patrols as they were barred from the use of squad cars. These officers were quarantined in rank, barred from patrolling in White neighborhoods. During the Civil Rights movement, I remember seeing the National Guard trucks moving down the street. That was a particularly bad time in Baltimore because of the rift between the Black Communities and the White police force. There were always stories of police harrasment. My dad worked to ease the tension. During his time, he became friends with Bishop L. Robinson who became the first African American Baltimore’s Police Commissioner in 1984.

Kitty Wooley

Denise, thank you for saying more. This was painful to read. Your dad’s approach to dealing with discriminated was very enlightened.