Position: Economic Development Specialist
How long have you worked at the OED? It will be one year on June 1.
Before the OED, I was a: Graduate student in Agricultural and Applied Economics. Before that, an Associate at an international development company in Washington, DC.
Where are you from? Washington, DC
What’s the best part of your work? The best part of my work is the daily challenge, and immense opportunity we have to promote economic and community development throughout Virginia. OED is perfect for me because every day is different, just like every community and every challenge is different. I am able to work with a diverse group of smart and talented people on things like unmanned systems, aviation education, workforce development, strategic agricultural planning, even farm breweries! It is exciting to help communities figure out how to implement solutions that aren’t just money makers, but are also a good fit for their unique characteristics and populations. It’s also a HUGE plus that I have access to so many brilliant professors, many of whom are service-minded as well!
Outside of work, what are your favorite things to do? I enjoy hiking with my dogs, working in the garden, and discovering new locally-produced beer, wine, and food.
If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? Cauliflower – because you can do anything with it, and it has tons of health benefits! It can be turned into rice, bread, pizza dough and can be served fried, mashed, steamed, broiled, roasted, or grilled. I’ll need some butter and salt and pepper on the side though.
Where do you most want to travel, but have never been and why? Kazakhstan, or anywhere in Central Asia. It is an ethnically diverse and culturally rich country with massive natural beauty. I met many Kazakhs when I lived in Russia and they were among the most friendly, caring people I encountered! Also, did you know that the mountains of Central Asia are the birthplace of tulips?? (My favorite flower). I haven’t been yet because it’s pretty far away, and it’s hard to find a travel companion who doesn’t look at me like I’m crazy when I say that’s where I’d like to go.
Why did you choose your profession/what led you here to the OED? I have always been a very service-minded person, constantly eager to figure out ways to help people and communities solve their problems in unique and sustainable ways. Before starting my MS at Virginia Tech, I was interested in pursuing a career in international development. However, once I came to Virginia Tech and started interacting with the students, faculty, and staff of the university, as well as members of the surrounding communities, especially in Southwest Virginia – I knew that I wanted to stay and try to make an impact here.