Can you tell us a little bit about your career path in forensics? How did you end up in the role that you currently occupy?
In 2015, I started working at the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) in Accreditation Services. A year later, an opportunity arose for me to work with the Forensic Examination Accreditation Program. As a Senior Accreditation Officer, I assist forensic organizations in achieving and maintaining accreditation while also serving as the appointed staff contact for forensic organizations, committees, and industry groups.
In your experience, how have diversity and inclusion played a part in your occupation?
I participate in different quality assurance groups, both within and outside of A2LA. Each group has its varying level of diversity and promotes inclusivity by requesting input from all those involved. These experiences allow me to improve my role as a Senior Accreditation Officer because I am constantly learning from the perspectives, skills, and ideas of others. I apply this knowledge when assisting organizations with their accreditation-related needs. I can learn so much when in a diverse and inclusive environment and at the end of the day, the more I learn, the more valuable I am to my customers.
Can you talk about a time in the workplace where you noticed the benefit of diversity in a situation? Or where the situation would have benefited from more diverse thinking?
Last year, I was in a leadership program with four other staff members and one of our activities was to observe the strategic planning meeting held by the A2LA Executive Team. During the meeting, the Executive Team asked for our input on certain topics as we were considered the “boots on the ground.” The responses we provided were based on our experiences and/or knowledge and were taken into consideration by the Executive Team. Within a short period of time, my fellow staff members and I observed specific improvements within the A2LA organization and we felt our feedback played a role in that.
Have your lived experiences shaped your approach to inclusivity in the field in any way?
As a former basketball player, I played on teams with people having different skill sets. For example, one teammate could be a great shooter, but not a good defensive player while another could be a great defensive player, but a poor shooter. Despite these differences, each team member was equally valued and that allowed us to be a successful team. This experience taught me regardless of a teammate’s skill set, they had strengths that contributed to the overall success of the team. I believe the field can use a similar approach. Everyone may not have the same level of knowledge and expertise, but each person’s strengths can be leveraged to achieve and sustain an effective quality assurance program.
Are there any stories you would like to share of a time you directly saw the benefit of diversity or inclusion in forensics?
Last year, the DC Department of Forensic Sciences held an outreach event to highlight common misconceptions in forensics and to clarify what can and cannot be done. There were plenty of engaging activities including a panel discussion. It was a great event and informative for attendees who were either unfamiliar with forensics, had a false sense of understanding, or just wanted to learn more. It was amazing to see the diversity among attendees at the event. For example, there were forensic practitioners, lawyers, middle and high school students, and people of non-forensic backgrounds. This level of diversity is beneficial in forensics because anyone can be a potential juror and outreach events such as this one help ensure people are informed of what can be expected from real-world forensics.