Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ambassador Profile: Sage Emry-Smith

I am currently a Disaster Assistance Employee, Congressional Specialist, for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Region 10. I was contacted by FEMA after attending a federal government job fair in the fall of 2008. I am a reservist and can be deployed to any disaster nationwide (including a possible deployment to Haiti), however, I am typically deployed to the Regional office in Bothell, WA for special projects while I finish my graduate studies. As a congressional specialist I am responsible for creating and maintaining relationships with congressional delegations in Region 10’s four states and I serve as the contact point for constituent inquiries. I have led briefings on FEMA programs and policies for the congressional staff of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska delegations and would be responsible for helping to brief congressional offices during a disaster if our region received a presidential declaration for a disaster event. On a daily basis I respond to congressional inquiries from regional constituents and perform research in order to compile comprehensive and timely responses.

Until December of 2009, I had been working full-time in the Office of the Ambassador as an intern for the United States Department of State at the U.S. Mission to France and Monaco in Paris, France. I performed entry-level Foreign Service work as assigned by the Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of Mission and completed special projects as assigned by the Ambassador’s Staff Assistant. I was responsible for managing the visit of Secretary Clinton's Senior Advisor for Innovation, Alec Ross, who helped the Embassy develop a youth outreach strategy to address the next generation of French leaders through new media. To support this visit, I coordinated his schedule, organized successful town hall meetings with Embassy staff, prepared briefing materials for the Ambassador, and participated in all of the strategy sessions. Throughout my internship, I assisted with several receptions at the Ambassador’s residence, communicating in both French and English with broad spectrum of government officials.

When I started in the Master of Public Administration program at UW's Evans School of Public Affairs, I was uninterested in government employment and sure that the non-profit sector was where I was meant to be. It wasn’t until I started working for FEMA that I even considered a federal career. My time with FEMA and my experience with the State Department proved to me that there are great opportunities for creative, innovative, intelligent, and ambitious individuals in government and I have the chance to contribute my skills and abilities to help shape our nation.

Both of these experiences have been truly rewarding and have helped shape my career goals as I move closer toward graduation this June. These opportunities have solidified my desire to pursue a career in public service and have exposed me to a broad range of federal career paths. I have met and worked with individuals who are dedicated to their jobs and who have inspired me to serve my country.

UW students are welcome to contact me at sagee at u.washington.edu.