This week we’re honoring Vicky Marquez, who began her career in public service via the HHS Emerging Leaders Program. She’s got some great ideas for improving government, as you’ll see below, and I hope she gets the chance to implement some of them in a future role. Here’s her story.
I needed a job! Well, that’s part of the story. My dad was in public service along with close family friends so I was familiar with working for the government. After graduate school I was interviewing for a number of positions in my field when I heard about the Emerging Leaders Program. The thought of working for the government sounded like it would be fun and luckily I got picked. It wasn’t until after I started working that I got a better, clearer sense of what it means to be a public servant.
2 – Tell me more about the HHS Emerging Leaders Program. What is it? How long is it?
The Emerging Leaders Program was created in 2002 by the former HHS Secretary, Tommy Thompson. It was created to get younger people into Federal government because so many people were eligible for retirement and they wanted to have people in place so there wouldn’t be a personnel shortage. The ELP Program is very similar to the PMF program except that you do your rotations among the different operating divisions of HHS versus government-wide. You also receive leadership training throughout the two year program.
3 – What’s been the most interesting experience from the program so far? Anything coming up that energizes you?
The most interesting experience is getting to meet fellow Emerging Leaders. I know this is not the most original or creative answer but the ELP program is still a small program. Everyone knows about the PMF program because it’s been around for over 30 years so when I meet another Emerging Leader there’s a shared connection by being in the same program.
4 – How do you envision your career in 5 years?
I know that in 5 years I’ll still be a Federal employee. There are so many great programs that are making a difference in our communities and internationally that I know I’ll still be here, helping people and organizations be successful and wanting to learn.
5 – At a Partnership for Public Service event we both attended, you shared an idea that we should have a program in government that rotates employees around agencies – sort of like HHS ELP or the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program, but for people further along in the careers? Can you say more about that idea?
Sure! I can’t take credit for it but I know other Federal agencies or offices offer this opportunity to their employees for a number of reasons, including to help retain employees, share expertise and reduce employee fatigue. The idea is that individuals could rotate within their agency or even outside their agency among different offices, share their expertise and knowledge with that office or gain additional skill sets to help them do their regular job. This is a much cheaper alternative to more formal trainings as well as potentially losing a valuable employee and having to spend valuable time and resources to hire and train a new person. Many agencies have employees that have been in their jobs for years and having this option can reinvigorate, re-energize someone. It’s a win-win for everyone. The employee gets to share what they know and/or learn a new topic or skillset. The office gets the help they need without costing them a lot of money and the home office gets their employee back, ready to get back to work and hopefully bring a new skillset to the team.
6 – Who’s your favorite public servant and why?
The First Lady, Michelle Obama because she’s smart, inspiring, energizing, changing the way people interact with the White House by making it the “people’s house” and implementing initiatives that will carry on after she leaves office, such as Let’s Move! and planting a garden at the White House.