Source: EM Update | Vol. 11, Issue 7; Contributor: Ben Williams | Feb. 19, 2019

Katherine Hernandez joined the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management as a contracting officer in November 2018.

While Katherine Hernandez is new to DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM), she already finds it comfortable and familiar.

“One of the biggest things that stands out is how much communication is emphasized, and how each person knows their piece of the pie and what they are responsible for,” said Hernandez, who joined OREM as a contracting officer in November 2018.

OREM Manager Jay Mullis said hires such as Hernandez preserve and advance a strong work ethic and concern for co-workers central to OREM’s culture.

“Oak Ridge has a great organizational culture because of our people,” Mullis said. “We have a rare combination of talented employees who work extremely hard and who care for the men and women beside them. Katherine fits that description.”

After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Hernandez served in the Marine Corps as a supply officer with Combat Logistics Battalion 24 in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. She later deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit onboard the USS Iwo Jima.

“In the military, you are taught the value of teamwork, while also being trained to be an expert in your individual field and encouraged to help others where you can. Adapting to the environment and preparing for the unknown is also highly emphasized in the military,” Hernandez said.

“I definitely see and appreciate that same culture of adapting as needed and team mentality here in EM,” she said. “People are willing to help their co-workers accomplish the job at hand.”

Military service runs in Hernandez’s family. One sister is an active duty Marine, another is a Marine Reservist, and a third is a member of the National Guard.

Hernandez moved to Oak Ridge in 2015 and began working with DOE’s Office of Science as a contract specialist overseeing a range of services, including telecommunications, facility maintenance, and construction. She also played a key role in developing an interagency agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers and opening the new American Museum of Science and Energy facility.

At OREM, Hernandez assists with contract management for a program with a nearly $650 million fiscal 2019 budget that contracts for environmental cleanup and remediation, engineering, project planning and management, schedule and cost analysis, and administrative support services.

“Katherine is an excellent addition to our team,” said Karen Shears, director of OREM’s procurement and contracts division. “Through her diverse set of experiences and traits, she gives us a new and different perspective, which is extremely valuable in our field.”

Outside work, Hernandez is working to finish her MBA in May and training for her next marathon.

This story is part of a series focusing on early career professionals in the EM complex.