Almost exactly 3 and a half years ago I wrote a post about how I had just landed “literally my dream job” as a Tsunami Program Coordinator for the Washington State Emergency Management Division. After 6 pretty boring years managing federal grants, I would be conducting education and outreach about Washington’s geologic hazards, tsunamis in particular, and supporting partners and stakeholders from the local to federal levels with initiatives to help mitigate the impacts of those hazards. It sounded amazing! While I was nervous to take on this new role, I was also extremely excited to be back in the field of emergency management. At my current job I’d begun to feel stifled, like I couldn’t stretch my wings, and this new opportunity felt like fate had finally steered me back to the right path.
Now, 3 and a half years later, I’m here once more with a new announcement – this Tsunami Program Coordinator has been promoted to Tsunami Program Manager! That’s right, not only did my boss decide to keep me around all those years ago once he found out what a weird, neurotic nerd he hired, I now manage the entire tsunami program. (It turns out a weird, neurotic nerd is exactly what he needed because I’m an organized control freak that keeps everything running smoothly.) If the past 3 years have been me stretching my growing wings like a fledgling learning the feel of the wind from the safety of the nest, I’m definitely flying over open air now and testing my skills for real. While I don’t have official supervisory responsibility over our other 2 Tsunami Program Coordinators like my boss does (which is good; timesheets are a pain), I’m in charge of leading the program overall and that means all day-to-day programmatic decisions, grant and budget management, overseeing my teammates, and ensuring we’re on track with our many, MANY projects. Our program is quite robust and has the power to influence tsunami policy not just in Washington State but across the nation. No pressure.
We’ve been building to this promotion for a while now, which means I’ve had a lot of time to think about what makes a good leader and what kind of leader I want to be. I take lessons from those around me and try to emulate what I find admirable in the leaders who have shaped me: empathy, honesty, tenacity, humor. I look to my gods and ancestors for strength, encouragement, and direction, and I know I couldn’t have gotten to this place without them. I’m doing things I never could have imagined a decade ago – responding to disasters, presenting at national conferences, being interviewed by the media, acting as a subject matter expert on topics that have serious real-world implications. I’ve been stressed and exhausted and angry and pushed to my limits… and I wouldn’t trade away any of it (well, except maybe the covid19 activation). I’m grateful for it all, the good and the bad. I can’t grow if I stay in my comfort zone, after all, and the gods have sure been good about pushing me out of it!
So here I am, excited and nervous to embark on more adventures in Adulting. Who knows what the next 3 years hold? Or even the next 3 months? I definitely don’t, but what I do know is that I can face whatever comes my way thanks to my support network of loved ones both living and dead, human and animal, ancestor and deity.