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Member-of-the-Week: Tricia Garland

Tricia Garland

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Links: www.azdeq.gov, www.azstatejobs.gov

Tricia’s blogs: https://www.govloop.com/profiles/blog/list?user=1p0pkuujta2xf

1. What was your path to public service? While I was in college I was an intern for Honeywell working in the aerospace industry (government contractor) writing procedures, and I also worked as a telephone operator. In fact, some of the phone calls I handled were for FTS (the Federal Technology Service – which is a digital fiber-optic network providing voice, video, e-mail and high-speed data communications for the U.S. federal government). Handling government calls with the ever-changing password phrases made us feel like we were a part of the FBI or CIA, wondering what types of calls we were putting through without a billing method. I guess you could say that we all felt like Chloé from tv’s 24 when these calls came in. After graduating college, I began my career in Human Resources and spent some time working as the HR Director for a school district on an Indian reservation. It is here that I became knowledgeable of Tribal government and law, working in conjunction with the Department of Interior/Bureau of Indian Affairs/FBI, not to mention I became a Certified Native American Parliamentarian. After my years in education, I then went back to the private sector for a semiconductor manufacturer still working in HR, and again, a government contractor. After a year, I opted to work for the state of Arizona, where I am now, working for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, still in the field of Human Resources.

2. What awesome projects are you working on now? Besides the ordinary, everyday stuff. Currently, I am busy trying to find a Legislative Intern. Please spread the word!! It is always a challenge to find good people, but finding someone interested in Arizona’s environmental issues who wants to learn about state government, and will fill the role for a six month commitment while receiving zero pay while attending college? I’ll let you all know how it turns out! One of my other projects I am embarking on having a virtual job fair for the agency. This of course is in the works due to budget constraints and the hiring freeze that was put into effect by then Governor Janet Napolitano. So for now, I am getting things together so all the planning and prep work is done and I’m ready to roll with this when the hiring freeze is lifted, and IT is too.

3. What has been some of your most memorable experiences in public service? I would definitely have to say working with the public. I have indeed had some crazy inquiries and requests. So many people obtain your phone number or email from a directory, and don’t care what division or department you work in; they just want the problem taken care of. On one occasion I was approached to stop the delivery of telephone books to a particular neighborhood because they are lining the road, and people don’t need them these days, so it is a waste of paper. Basically he wanted me to create a law to make it illegal to print them. Being recognized for my work in Human Resources is also memorable. Although some of the most memorable things for me are certainly not the grandest of things. I deal a lot with employee relations issues, and many aren’t happy memories (layoffs, reprimands, denial of benefits, etc). However for some situations when you actually hear someone say “thank you”? It means a lot – whether I was able to help them out with a performance appraisal, provide an alternative way to handle a disciplinary issue, or to assist employees in applying for a promotional opportunity.

4. What advice do you have for people who are new to the public sector? Don’t expect to know everything right away. There’s definitely a learning curve, and it’s longer than six months or even a year. I definitely think that my intercultural communications/education background has helped. It’s an adjustment from private to public sector. People have to remember to respect differences. I’ve seen plenty of people entering into the public sector culture and want to immediately change it. A former boss of mine who is Native American once told me “baby steps”. I told her replacement, it’s more like “Mother may I”…suggest your ideas, they should be presented, but get permission or buy in from a few before you change what has always been. You’ve got to adapt to the culture, not change it immediately. And finally, always remember that what you do truly does make a difference!

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