From the Office to the Desert: An Interview with TIDES’ Amy Gorman

By Jonathan Fredrickson

Sometimes you have to seize the moment, regardless of where it may take you. Amy Gorman, formerly of The Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP), embraced this philosophy and has recently begun her transition from National Defense University (NDU) to a new journey in Saudi Arabia. Due to her central role on our team and her many connections throughout the STAR-TIDES network, we felt the only way to honor her would be to allow her one last goodbye as the signatory monthly interviewee. Amy and I spoke on May 31st, 2014 and our interview covered her tenure at TIDES, her favorite memories, and what comes next. I cannot thank her enough for all of the advice and help that she has given to me over the duration of my internship and I wish her the absolute best with whatever comes next.
Our discussion began with a simple question: How did you first arrive within the halls of the CTNSP? Amy first arrived at NDU a few years ago, where she worked as an administrative assistant within the College of International Security Affairs (CISA) through Booze Allen Hamilton. As luck would have it, the Research and Outreach Associate, within TIDES, opened as her position was closing a year later. Given that her academic background was in Natural Resource Management, the possibility to do work within the field of sustainability was something that she could not possibly ignore. As she recalled, “Being that STAR-TIDES is about sustainable support to populations under stress, it has this environmental focus that was very appealing to me.”
Upon joining the office, her first impression bordered on surprise and amazement. In her words, “I was surprised by the many directions that people were able to go while maintaining the same mission…and it was a very welcoming atmosphere. They were all so ready to bring you into the fold, it wasn’t us vs. them, but rather, you are just newer than us.” She became a part of the team and quickly turned her focus to revamping the dated newsletter, which had become a problem that hindered TIDES’ outreach. This project came to symbolize her role. She was a breath of fresh air that supported the office, Dr. Wells, and the STAR-TIDES network.
Following up on this idea of time passed, we transitioned to her favorite memories from her year and a half stay. Amy recalled countless stories from the TIDES Demos, conference events, and day-to-day shenanigans at the office. Though I want to publish all of them, this is neither the time nor the place. However, one story seemed to make her laugh more than the others. During Fall 2012, Amy participated in her first TIDES Demo and there were so many aspects to it that had to be completed ahead of time. One such requirement was the construction of the Hexayurt, which is the brainchild of Vinay Gupta, who I interviewed earlier in the spring. Though she is an expert now, her first try was far more challenging. As she described it, “It was completely new…and Lou Elin and I were stuck inside the Hexayurt roof as it was on the ground. I just couldn’t believe that I was being paid to play around.” Additionally, she highlighted the first time that she met Solar Cookers International. According to her, “They were fascinating…they were able to cook a wide variety of delicious foods…with just the sun. I felt that those demonstrations were the quintessential TIDES exhibit.”
Looking back at her tenure, outside of the events and the daily chaos, Amy wants to make it clear that she has never felt so at home in any previous job. Referring to everyone within CTNSP, Amy stated, “I have made some incredible friends here. They will have to try hard to not be my friends in the future. There are fantastic things that we did and I have learned so much on HA/DR, but the thing that I am most grateful for is the opportunity to make such valuable friends that I will hopefully hold onto in the future.”
Having touched on the past enough, we move to her transition and the future in general. Simply because this transition is far beyond what most people undertake when changing jobs, it had to be explored. As it turns out, she is moving to Saudi Arabia to live with her husband as he begins his first posting with the United States Foreign Service. They will be stationed near Riyadh, but plan on exploring the region as a whole. The first stop, before his post begins, will be to visit Petra, Jordan. However, she is very much looking forward to exploring Saudi Arabia. She explains, “Although Saudi Arabia isn’t a tourist destination, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t absolutely fascinating things ecologically, culturally to explore, so I am very excited to see this country for what it offers.” Although she is leaving TIDES, Amy plans to stay an active member of the greater STAR-TIDES network.



Star-Tides is a Global Knowledge Sharing Research Network coordinated at the George Mason University. It is derived from a research project called TIDES (Transformative Innovation for Development and Energy Support. TIDES originally was coordinated for Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University (NDU)--part of the Department of Defense. All information in the STAR-TIDES network is intended to be in the public domain. All information in this website is free, open source and in the public domain. Ideas expressed, or products displayed, on the website, or in other TIDES or STAR-TIDES activities, should not be considered as endorsed by anyone else, including the US government, nor should they be considered any form of commitment.
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