- This month’s newsletter is about Gratitude. Derived from the Latin word “gratus” meaning pleasing, thankful. Is it commonplace these days to see lively discussions about practicing gratitude? Do you practice gratitude? If so, how has it affected your work life as you operate in an overwhelmed docket.
Answer: Given the uncertainty and sadness we have all experienced these last few years, I think it is easy to forget to practice gratitude for all that we have. Unfortunately, we all have seen disagreements which, rather than assisting with the resolution of important issues appears to detract from the work which needs to be accomplished. At the same time, I think we have seen moments of profound gratitude towards family, friends, neighbors, and most importantly our health care workers and essential personnel, as we continue to support each other during this pandemic.
I was lucky enough to have family members, specifically my parents and grandparents, and excellent friends and mentors who stressed the importance of gratitude. Thus, even though I often find myself frustrated by the small things in life, such as being caught at a red light, I try to remember their examples. I find that I’m more efficient when I focus on the positive events happening to and around me and avoid negative distractions.
Hopefully, I can remember that and maintain a sense of gratitude going forward. And thanks for this excellently timed topic which helps!
- Can you explain your role as a staff attorney and how long have you been a staff attorney?
Answer: I’ve had the privilege of being a staff attorney at OSM, USCFC for almost 11 years. I was hired as a temporary staff attorney in January 2011, to help resolve the nearly 5,000 pending autism cases following the resolution of the test cases. My position became permanent in May 2014.
Since the inception of the SPU (Special Processing Unit) on July 1, 2015, I have assisted with the management of many of these cases while monitoring the overall SPU process and all case filings for the Chief Special Master. Speaking of gratitude, I want to voice my appreciation to Patrick Rodefield and Whitney Ambush who have helped me with this overall SPU work. I also perform specific OSM-wide duties for the Chief Special Master and Senior Staff Attorney Jocelyn McIntosh and draft substantive documents for other special masters as needed.
In May 2019, along with Francina Segbefia, I was promoted to Supervisory Staff Attorney. I act as the immediate supervisor for some SPU and all AFC (Attorney’s Fees and Costs) unit personnel.
- Prior to becoming an OSM staff attorney, what did you do?
Answer: I was a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army for several years. After leaving the military, I earned my LLM in Taxation at Georgetown University School of Law and gave birth to two incredible daughters. The older is currently an Army Nurse on active duty in South Korea, and the younger just graduated from law school (George Washington), passed the DC bar in July, and will begin a fellowship with the Office of Attorney General for the District of Columbia in January. Moving often, sometimes every 1 to 2 years, I managed to use my legal training in a variety of volunteer and paid positions. My favorite was running the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.
- Who are the three people you are most grateful for/to in your career?
Answer: There are many. However, I would have to say my dad for setting the example, former Chief Special Master Vowell for telling me about and recommending me for my first position at OSM, and my husband for his support.
- What role can the Bar play in promoting gratitude?
Answer: To me, this is the most difficult question in this section. The obvious answer is the action the Bar has already taken. By choosing gratitude as this month’s topic, the Bar leadership reminds us to maintain a sense of appreciation as we continue our work. Although they have set the example, I think it’s up to each of us members to follow their lead – to continue to voice our gratitude. I do believe a sense of gratitude can be contagious.
Rapid Fire Round!
- Mac or PC?
- Top-three songs on your Spotify/I-tunes playlist?
Answer: “Dream On” by Aerosmith, “Under Pressure” by Queen, and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. Since this month’s topic is Gratitude, I have to give an honorable mention to “What a Wonderful World” by Louie Armstrong.
- Best/Worst advice you’ve ever been given for which you’re still grateful?
Answer: Best: trust your gut and don’t be afraid to speak your mind. I know that’s probably two separate pieces of advice, but they were delivered at the same time.
- Favorite movie villain? Favorite movie hero? Can be the same person.
Answer: Villain: Alan Rickman in anything. Hero: Denzel Washington in anything.
- Favorite Guilty Pleasure song, t.v. show, or movie?
Answer: Re-watching the movie “Gone Girl” because it puts me in a productive state of mind.