Operations Analyst Helps Keep Homeland Security Projects on TrackSeptember 2019
Veronica De La Cruz is a familiar face at MITRE. An operations analyst supporting the MITRE operated Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute™ (HSSEDI), she has a talent for bringing people together, building teams, and coordinating the many components of our HSSEDI projects.
A Problem Solver Across the Homeland Security Realm
As De La Cruz describes it, her day-to-day job is providing holistic support to approximately 50 project leads within HSSEDI.
"We're working on nearly 70 projects for our sponsor," she says. "This includes support for Border Patrol, TSA, immigration, cybersecurity, along with many others. There are many, many components to our projects, so I help the project leads work as efficiently as possible."
The inherent complexity of the challenge inspired her to create training materials for new project leads, contribute to the creation of a project roadmap, and maintain a web collection of resources. She also assisted with the design of a project tracker that provides easy updates on projects' status and deliverables.
De La Cruz knows her efforts enable MITRE to provide the support our sponsors rely on. "I'm a centralized source of information. My goal is to help keep all these projects running on time and fulfilling all their contractual obligations. Essentially, we're working to improve the capabilities our sponsors need to fulfill their mission."
She adds, "Just as our sponsors know and trust that MITRE can solve their challenges, the project leads know and trust that they can come to me to solve a problem."
A Leader Among Her Colleagues
MITRE relies on De La Cruz's collaboration and organizational skills in areas outside of homeland security projects, too. Shortly after her arrival at MITRE in 2008, she volunteered to assist—and later lead—MITRE's Take Your Child to Work Day.
"I loved it," she says, "It was a great way for me to get to know other people in the organization."
She then got involved with Next-Up, MITRE's early career professional networking group. That experience led to her joining our Multicultural Employee Resource Group, or MERG, shortly after it was established two years ago.
MERG's founders Bacilia Angel, Susan Mbawuike, and Jackie Reardon knew De La Cruz and asked her to take the lead on developing cultural awareness events. The MERG gatherings allow our staff to meet new colleagues and learn about different cultures.
"This year we've had an event for Black History Month, and more recently an Asian Pacific Heritage celebration," she says. "During MERG's first year, the events were only at our McLean, Virginia, campus but this year we've expanded to our Bedford, Massachusetts, campus as well. Our Baltimore, Fort Meade, and Honolulu sites have also participated."
While MERG has several strategic initiatives, the primary objective is to build a more diverse and inclusive MITRE by promoting and celebrating multiculturalism. It's an integral component of MITRE's commitment to solving problems for a safer world.
"By bringing together individuals with diverse thoughts, experiences, and backgrounds, we enrich the solutions and capabilities we deliver to our sponsors," says MITRE's President and CEO Jason Providakes.
De La Cruz agrees wholeheartedly. "It's fantastic that MITRE's leadership is supporting programs like MERG. I've learned so much from different people throughout my career here.
"It's been a great journey so far and I'm excited to see where my MITRE career will go in the future."
—by Kay M. Upham
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