Voices of EPA

By Lina Younes and Joanne Oxley

Joanne: I have always been a storyteller, much to my parents chagrin, and for the past 17 years I have been telling EPA’s story. This year, when we began to talk about ways to commemorate the 40th anniversary of EPA, my first thought was that we needed to provide a broader opportunity for EPA’s employees to tell their stories, and thus was born, the “Voices of EPA” project.

Lina: During the course of these 75-plus interviews, Joanne and I spoke with numerous colleagues from diverse backgrounds and expertise: scientists, lawyers, policy-makers, economists, enforcement agents, public affairs specialists, you name it, we interviewed them.

Joanne: It has been a true pleasure to be a part of capturing the stories from both Headquarters and our Regional Offices. There were several instances when I found myself choking up when I listened to the reasons why employees came to EPA, and why they have stayed. All spoke with passion about their dedication to the Agency’s mission to protect public health and the environment.

Lina: During the interviews I was struck by some of the common themes, such as:

  • Whether they were here at the very beginning or they just joined the agency this year—they all love their job.
  • They believe they are making a difference.
  • They share an enthusiasm that they are working for a greater good.
  • In the early years, the average age of the agency’s leadership was the early 30’s.
  • Many EPA workers started as interns or straight out of graduate school.
  • Science is at the root of the Agency’s decision-making process. Scientists and regulators work hand in hand.
  • Teamwork is an integral part of working at EPA.
  • Innovation and creativity are valued at EPA.

Joanne: When I reflect back on my own experience here at EPA and my legacy, one of my proudest accomplishments will have been part of this project where we have been able to share just some of the names and faces of EPA employees who work with dedication and pride to serve the American public.

Lina and Joanne: We plan to link to the compilation videos soon. So as we move on to the next 40 years, we would like to thank our colleagues for a job well done. Happy birthday, EPA, and may you celebrate many more.

About the authors: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Joanne Oxley is the Communication Manager for EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management. She has been with the Agency for the past 16 years where she has provided a wide variety of communications support for both external and internal audiences, receiving numerous Gold and Silver medals for her work. She has a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Maryland.

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