I.J. Ezeonwuka is one of my favorite people in public service. I first met her when I co-founded Young Government Leaders and she was an integral part of the team that took a 50 person happy hour group to a 501(c)(3) non-profit with thousands of members across the country.
When I developed GovLoop, she was one of the first members and has served as a GovLoop Community Leader where she welcomes new members, moderates the community, and helps out with the member of the week series.
I took this week’s member of the week to learn a little more about I.J. Pretty cool stuff…..
Here we go:
-So tell us a little bit of your background. Where did you grow up? Go to school? What were your hobbies?
*I was born in the beautiful city of Laramie in the great state of Wyoming. I moved as a kid and was raised in Lagos, Nigeria in West Africa. My full name is Ijeoma (pronounced: e-jay-o-ma, which means “Have a Safe Journey”). I go by I.J for short because of the difficulty people have in pronouncing my name. I moved back to the States in 2000 and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in May of 2005 with a degree in Marketing. I have a big appetite for knowledge so my hobbies growing up were reading books and newspapers.
-How did you get interested in government as an employer?
*While still in college right before graduation, I attended an information session that was held by General Services Administration (GSA). At the time, I had never heard of the Agency but was really struck by how well the presentation was so put together. Also in speaking with some alumni that worked for GSA and hearing how they really enjoyed working for the Government, my interest in working for the Fed really grew.
-Where have you worked in government? Where do you work now?
*After college, I worked for the Smithsonian Institution as a Contract Specialist for about a year. I currently work for the United States Coast Guard (under the Department of Homeland Security) as a Contract Specialist for a little over two years now.
-What has been your favorite project you worked on as a government employee?
*I have more than one favorite project I have worked on: From the early stage of the butterfly house project at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to the last phase of the construction of the Smithsonian American Art Museum to the Acquisition of Biometric Readers for the United States Coast Guard.
-We met a few years ago working on Young Government Leaders. Tell us about YGL and your role with YGL?
*YGL (based in Washington DC) is the only professional organization found and led by young feds. YGL has evolved in its mission to educate, inspire, and transform the next generation of government leaders, offering professional development, networking, and leadership opportunities for its members.
YGL has grown tremendously since its founding (thanks to you Steve) and today serves as an active voice for young feds across the nation. In 2009, YGL has over 7 chapters in communities of all sizes from Bethesda, MD to Boston, MA to Denver, CO to Cleveland, OH to Richmond, VA to Harrisburg, PA to Hampton Roads, VA.
I am currently the Chapter Liaison and my role is to: coordinate the establishment of YGL chapters across the United States and to provide assistance to the YGL chapters in various areas of chapter activities (e.g. attracting chapter volunteers).
-How did you hear about GovLoop?
*I heard about GovLoop during a YGL National Board Meeting and I knew I wanted to be part of it right away.
-What keeps you coming back? Any favorite features? Favorite GovLoopers?
*Everything from the forum to the blog posts to the twitter feeds. It truly is exciting to be a part of this community. My favorite feature is the forum. There is some much information out there and I am glad that GovLoop serves as a place where one can get them. My favorite GovLooper apart from you Steve is Celia Rivas-Mendive. I was very glad to meet her in person at an event. She is a smart and driven woman.
-You also serve as a member of the Elite GovLoop Community Leaders. Tell us a little bit about your experience and what you have been doing.
*My experience has been great. I mostly welcome new members on Fridays and it is always amazing to see the diversity of new GovLoop members. From as far out as Hong Kong to France to Fort Worth TX.
-You are stuck in an elevator with the President. What did you tell/ask him?
*I would ask him to please overhaul the Federal Hiring Process ASAP. The status quo is not going to keep up with the impending retirement wave.
-What else keeps you occupied on your few free seconds? Any secret hobbies? Random skills? Vacations?
*With my few free seconds, I love to watch Jeopardy (it’s amazing how random knowledge can become useful on that show). My secret hobby is to karaoke. Random Skill: Making a paper boat (it’s a skill I’ve had since I was five and for some reason never left me). Favorite vacation was to Tampa, FL.
-I run into you randomly in 10 years. What will you be doing? (I have my own ideas of your true awesomeness – SES all the way)
*In no random order: An SES and a Foreign Service Officer.
Thank you Steve for the Opportunity and for making GovLoop what it is.