Ever wonder what it’s like to be a member of the NOAA Coast Survey team? We use the Coast Survey spotlight blog series as a way to periodically share the experiences of Coast Survey employees as they discuss their work, background, and advice.
Teresa Fleisher, Program Specialist
“I love the work that we do, knowing that we’re contributing to making the country (and the world) a better – and safer – place.”
What is your position at NOAA?
I’m a program specialist for the Coast Survey Development Lab, with responsibilities in several areas. I assist with budgets, including reconciliation of the budget and ensuring that the formulas and formatting in the budget spreadsheets remain intact. I create procurement packages, including the actual purchase request and the required supporting documentation, and then manage the contracts as a Contracting Officer Representative (COR) Level 2. I’m also the Certified Federal Program Officer for several grants, including a $9 million competitive grant that was just awarded. I am also the human resources (HR) liaison for the lab, assisting the deputy division chief with personnel actions and other HR-related duties, performing timekeeper duties, and processing training forms.
What do you find most challenging about your role?
The most challenging aspect of my role here at NOAA would have to be keeping up with how processes are constantly changing and evolving. Before I joined NOAA 10 years ago, I had been in much smaller companies in private industry, where we did everything ourselves from beginning to end. Maybe it’s part of government, or part of being such a large organization, but so much of my role now depends on other offices doing their part(s) of the process. That means that those other offices may make process changes, and those changes must trickle down to everyone else, changing how we do our jobs, and sometimes not finding out about changes until after we’ve done things the old way. When a process goes through a number of other offices, trying to incorporate changes from all of them and make everyone happy can be a challenge.
What is your education background?
I took classes at Montgomery College (general studies) and University of Maryland (aviation and meteorology courses), but unfortunately didn’t get to graduate (life had other plans for me, including a 400-mile move, marriage, and a child). I’ve had many, many training courses and other specialized classes over the years, though, and was trained in web development back when the web was just starting to expand beyond educational institutions (yikes – dating myself!). I’ve also been very fortunate to find amazing mentors along the way who were willing to help me learn new things.
What do you like most about NOAA?
What do I like most about NOAA? Choosing just one thing is really hard! I love everything about NOAA and working here. I love the people that I work with, both in the lab and in the rest of NOAA. I love the work that we do, knowing that we’re contributing to making the country (and the world) a better – and safer – place. I love feeling like I’m part of something so much bigger than me, and that I’m actually contributing in a meaningful way. I love learning, too, and I’ve been able to do that here constantly, learning new duties and new processes.
Any hidden talents?
The first hidden talent that not many people know about would probably be the fact that I’m a pilot. I became licensed in 2001, fulfilling a dream that I’d had since I was a kid (and further dating myself – oops!). I also love to write, though I don’t get much time to do that these days. I’ve written some shorts and have been told I should combine them into a book. Perhaps someday! Another would probably be finding hidden gems when traveling. Anyone can follow a guidebook and find the interesting tourist things, but I find it much more fun to explore off the books and away from the tourist areas, finding the amazing places and sites that very few know about. Another hidden talent that’s becoming more well known is that I’ve been trained as a copy editor, website designer/developer, and graphic artist. I’ve been able to use all of those talents here at NOAA, too.