Culture News

Women at LMI Making History

March 18, 2022

LMI Staff

In celebration of Women's History Month, we're excited to highlight a few of our early career professionals who are making history at LMI. These brilliant young women all joined LMI during the COVID-19 pandemic and are already making a splash!

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photo of Kayla Brown

Kayla Brown

Kayla Brown’s presence at LMI is an example of the power of mentoring relationships. While searching for a product design position, Kaye (as she prefers to be called), came across one at LMI. Curious to know if LMI would be a place where she could grow and thrive, Kaye reached out to one of her mentors, Kim Barnette, a project manager for DAS. Kim’s glowing remarks about LMI immediately excited Kaye, and LMI is now lucky to have Kaye working product design with the Forge™—and Kaye has a job she enjoys. “I love getting to transform ideas and concepts into functional and tangible digital solutions. It’s been wonderful to collaborate with other LMI employees to better understand user needs and solicit feedback,” she said.

Starting a new job during a pandemic has been challenging but Kaye timed her entry well. “Luckily, I came aboard right as Forge™ was planning an in-person lunch, which really helped me get acquainted with the team,” she said. But she’s also been getting acquainted on a virtual basis as well, adding “I love a good virtual happy hour!” And although Kaye enjoys the flexibility that teleworking offers, she doesn’t like that her cat “thinks all the attention should be on her.”

More About Kayla

Family is an important part of Kaye’s life, and a key moment in her life was losing her grandmother. “In 2017, my grandmother was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. It’s the second most common form of degenerative dementia, next to Alzheimer’s disease. She was such an opinionated, joyful, and thoughtful person. Losing her as a form of support and love has been difficult, but it's shaped me into being a person who lives in the moment and cherishes the time I have with ones I love.” When asked if she could have dinner with any two people, living or dead, she replied that she would like to have dinner with two ancestors, one from each side of the family. “We don’t really know much about our family history or where we came from, and we don’t have many stories or heirlooms to pass down. So, it’d be amazing to get our family history right from the source.”

When not working, Kaye has been enjoying watching Abbott Elementary on ABC. “Think The Office but set in a Philadelphia public school.” She loves “the subject matter, humor, and characters, especially Principal Ava played by actress/comedian Janelle James. I guess she’d be the equivalent of Michael Scott; she plays a ‘bad boss’ so well, and it’s rare you get to see Black women in those types of roles on TV.” Sadly for Kaye, the show is on hiatus right now. “Tuesdays just aren’t the same,” she said.

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photo of Yekaterina Gilbo

Yekaterina Gilbo

Yekaterina Gilbo, senior data science analyst with Digital and Analytic Solutions’ (DAS) Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) subservice line, came to LMI from the University of Virginia (UVA) where she earned a bachelor’s in physics and a master’s in biomedical engineering. She wanted to apply her science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills to solving problems in the government sphere. She attended an event at UVA’s Career Center and, as she said, “was lucky to meet Brant Horio [currently a data science fellow] during my interview. I was excited that LMI works on meaningful and important problems, and is filled with nerds.” Yekaterina has adjusted well to LMI. “I enjoy working on a closely connected team, doing analytics work, and getting to be part of NASA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO) mission.”

Having started with LMI during the pandemic, Yekaterina has connected with her colleagues through Teams. Although she wishes there were more chances to lean across a desk or pop down to the next cubicle for an impromptu chat, she participates in daily chats and particularly enjoys seeing photos of her colleagues’ kids and pets.

More About Yekaterina

There’s no doubt her coworkers are enjoying getting to know Yekaterina as well, with her interesting background and diverse hobbies. When she was eight years old, she immigrated to the US from Russia. “Immigrating to the US totally changed my life and opened up so many opportunities for my family and me,” she said. Sadly, she never met her grandmother and when asked if she could have dinner with two people, living or dead, who would they be and why, she replied, “My grandmother. Everyone said she was an incredible person, a source of love and strength to many people in her life. We treasure her book of recipes; her writings and drawings (she was a cartographer); her strength emotionally and physically (she loved speed skating). Like many others, she lived through difficult times in the Soviet Union. The second person would be my aunt, with whom I would have so much to catch up on.” A fan of film, Yekaterina recently watched The Secret World of Arrietty, a 2010 Japanese directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and animated by Studio Ghibli, about a family of tiny human-like beings who secretly live in the walls of a human household. She said, “I loved all the characters and the beautiful scenes of macro and micro life.”

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photo of Michaela Kovacs

Michaela Kovacs

A defining moment in Michaela Kovacs’ life was when she decided to change careers and leave teaching middle schoolers to become a government contractor. A lucky moment in LMI’s history was when Michaela decided to leave another contractor and join us as a senior analyst in acquisition logistics. She was seeking a company whose values aligned with hers and who would provide opportunities to grow professionally. When a previous LMIer suggested she consider LMI, Michaela researched LMI, found an opening in her field of acquisitions and operations, and applied. As she said, “I’m glad I did!” and so are we.

Michaela said she “enjoys LMI’s company culture and the opportunities it provides to grow and contribute to a larger professional purpose,” which is important to her because she is still fairly new to the support contracting world. She also appreciates the resources LMI has provided her to grow and develop, such as the MentorConnect™ program and the capability showcases. These programs “allow employees—both new and more experienced—to collaborate together,” she explained. “I also value LMI’s open door policy, which allows the opportunity to face time with higher leadership,” she added.

More About Michaela

Michaela has established a great rapport with her colleagues, despite having started at LMI during the pandemic and only working remotely. She said, “I enjoy conversations about my coworkers’ hobbies and activities, and using video capabilities whenever possible to introduce friends, family, and even pets, like my cat, who likes to jump on my lap to say hello!” She also likes the flexibility—and savings—that telework provides. Telework “has allowed me to take my work remote so I can care for loved ones; and my dry cleaning and gas expenses are reduced, which is an added pro.” But Michaela does miss face-to-face interactions with people. “I’m an extrovert,” she said. “I enjoy social get-togethers and happy hours.”

Deciding to switch careers was a difficult decision for Michaela, but one she doesn’t regret. She explained, “It was a hard decision, but it provided an opportunity for financial, personal, and professional growth while still providing a rewarding career. It taught me to take risks, develop new relationships, and adapt to a different environment.” She recently read Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven. In the book, Admiral McRaven shares the fundamental life lessons he learned as a Navy SEAL, including one about teamwork that resonated with Michaela: “If you want to accomplish great things, you need to fight, but you can’t do it alone.” As an early career professional, she finds the teamwork that abounds at LMI helpful to “acquire new skills and achieve mission objectives.”

When asked if she could have dinner with two people, living or dead, who would they be and why, Michaela replied, “The first person I would have dinner with if I could is Betty White. She was a beautiful person inside and out and I admire her strength as a woman. She was also active as an animal welfare and an LGBT advocate, and she opposed racial injustice, which are all causes I advocate for also. The second guests I would have dinner with are my parents. My mother raised six children and had the kindest heart, and my father was a veteran and hardworking engineer who also served on the township committee for over 30 years. They were the best role models, and more time would provide a chance to learn more.”

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photo of Rachel Silber

Rachel Silber

In spring 2021, with only a few months left to complete in her master’s program at The George Washington University (GW), Rachel Silber began looking for a full-time job opportunity to apply her strategic communication skills. She found LMI through GW’s alumni network. “I had so many wonderful school alumni who spoke highly of working here,” she said. “After a few conversations about their experience with their clients and colleagues, I knew LMI was going to be a great fit.”

Starting as a remote employee had its challenges but Rachel rose to the occasion, particularly in terms of connecting with her coworkers. “I love a quick Teams video call during lunch,” she said. She also organized an outdoor happy hour last summer and has even met some coworkers for “office days” at the Tysons office. “I really enjoy my coworkers,” she said. “Everyone is so willing to advocate and support you in your endeavors, both inside and outside of the company.” Yet when asked what she liked best and least about telework, she replied “not interacting with people and…not interacting with people! It’s a paradox I still don’t quite understand.”

More About Rachel

Two key influences in Rachel’s life were Japanese anime and her master’s thesis. “In terms of professional influence, my master’s thesis working with the World Bank and women in Djibouti played a huge role in shaping my career path. Working within such a large organization to bring tangible change sparked my commitment to working within a political system through federal contracts,” she said. Personally, her love of Japanese anime inspired her to learn Japanese. “Hayao Miyazaki is a mastermind animator. I highly recommend his work,” she said. “I used to watch Princess Mononoke every day as a kid, and it spurred me to learn Japanese.” She recently rewatched Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, adding “the animation style and the deeper pacifist themes felt relevant these days.”

Miyazaki and his work clearly are important to her. When asked which two people she would like to invite to dinner, she replied “I would have to circle back to Hayao Miyazaki because I’d love to know how he pursued his creative debuts with such dedication.” For her second guest, she said, “I would want to meet Kurt Vonnegut because he’s one of my favorite authors.”

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Photo of Amber Haley

Amber Haley

After earning her bachelor’s at the University of Mary Washington in December 2019, Amber Haley embarked on two new challenges: starting a master’s at Georgetown University and working at LMI. As a part-time intern, she supported LMI’s HR team with preparing weekly newsletter announcements, coordinating internal trainings, supporting professional development programs, and analyzing surveys.

“The first thing about LMI that stuck out to me was the people. Since day one, my teammates were extremely supportive, helpful, and friendly,” she said. Being new to the corporate environment, she greatly appreciated all the insights from her coworkers. Amber was drawn to LMI’s government mission, adding that she “appreciated the company’s emphasis on employee professional growth and development.”

In August 2020, she was “presented with the incredible opportunity to join LMI’s talent management team full time,” she said. “Since joining the team, I have gained broad experience across various talent management activities, such as succession planning, employee recognition programs, training and learning development, mentoring, and student programming. I help lead and support LMI’s service anniversary program, MentorConnect™, student programming, the Luminary awards, and our succession planning efforts.” As an HR professional, Amber enhances the employee experience and shapes the work environment to engage, connect, recognize, and motivate employees.

More about Amber

“Waking up every day knowing that I am helping to retain and develop our talented employees is what I most enjoy about my role,” she said. “I love working with my amazing teammates. They bring out the best in me and truly care for one another.”

Although teleworking affords great flexibility and increased work-life balance, Amber misses face-to-face engagement and in-person events. “Working virtually is challenging for meeting new colleagues and forming strong, personal relationships,” she said. “To bridge this gap, I chat with my teammates via video teleconferencing platforms and messaging apps to catch up and get to know them better.”

The pandemic and the remote environment it created has taught Amber the value of self-care. “During my first two years at LMI, I balanced working with attending graduate school. In a virtual environment, I spent many long and jam-packed days at a computer,” she explained. “To be successful in my roles as a student and an employee, I needed to carve out ample time for my well-being and health. Regular, uninterrupted ‘me’ time became critical to maintaining my productivity and feeling recharged for the next day, which ultimately enabled me to finish my graduate program on a strong note. This is a lesson I will carry with me throughout my life.” She added this advice, “No matter how busy life gets, taking time for yourself should be a key priority.”

Part of her self-care routine includes watching her favorite shows on TV, including “Friends,” which she describes as one of those “shows you can have on in the background but still understand what’s happening. The storyline never gets old, and I love the humor and casting.” Another favorite activity is dinner with family. When asked if she could have dinner with any two people living or dead, she responded, “I would love to have dinner with my great-grandparents to learn more about our family history and their incredible stories. However, I am fortunate to frequently have dinner with the people I love and most admire—my family!”

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Photo of Desiree Jackson

Desiree Jackson

Desiree Jackson’s journey as a database administration consultant with LMI began with the Suntiva merger but she adapted quickly to her new LMI path. “I enjoy multiple opportunities and challenges as I travel down the road of data analytics,” she said. “So many stories can be derived from data, not even considering the ways we can transform it for the task at hand.”

Although the pandemic and transitioning to a new company presented challenges, Desiree has met them with strength and kindness. “MS Teams has become crucial to my interaction with colleagues,” she said. “I appreciate how we can reach each other easily.” But, sometimes, it’s too easy and the lines between work and personal time become blurred. She uses Teams to know someone’s online status, which helps her maintain that balance, for herself and others. “While Teams is great, it can become distracting. Outside of work, I mute all notifications,” she admitted. (Don’t worry, Desiree, you’re not the only one muting notifications!) But she also uses Teams for more personal connections in today’s remote environment. “Sometimes I want to check on people that I haven’t reached out to in a while, just to chat.”

More About Desiree

As a single parent, “teleworking has made it convenient for me to tend to my daughter in times of early school dismissals, virtual learning days, and unexpected incidents when I have to make a trip to the school,” she said. But, like the constant access to emails and Teams chats, the downside is that “it’s hard to find that line between online and offline,” she said. “It takes practice to log off and remove yourself mentally from work when work is a part of your home 24/7.”

Desiree’s time at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) prepared her well for facing all kinds of challenges. “My senior year at VCU shaped me into the woman I am today,” she said. “Not only did I recognize that I can stand strong on my own but I realized that I could turn a chaotic situation into a clean and pristine machine.”

As a working parent, Desiree doesn’t have much time for reading or watching TV but, when she does, she likes to read “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz. “Why more than once? Well, what's inside the book is nothing new to me but it reminds me that I'm on the right track and doing what's best for myself and my development,” she explained. And she recently indulged with a TV treat. “As far as television is concerned, although I was reluctant, I've taken a great liking to ‘Bel-Air,’” she said, referring to the reboot of the 90s classic “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” “I didn't think it was going to hold up but I'm loving the perspective of the series; it brought in the current day with real-life obstacles that teenagers face,” she said. “I'm not a fan of all the recent reboots but I'm glad that I gave ‘Bel-Air’ a chance!”

She also enjoys reading the works of Maya Angelou. “Her words captivate and soothe me,” Desiree said. “I understand what her words portray in feelings.” And that is why Ms. Angelou would be one of two people, living or dead, whom Desiree would invite to dinner. The other guest would be Brandy, the accomplished singer, songwriter, model, and actress. “I've always been compared to her, mainly due to her prime-time years and our braided hairstyles, but her voice is extremely underrated,” she said. “I would like to know her story and struggles. Brandy is relatable to me because of her personality.”

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Nina Park

Nina Park supports the Federal Protective Service in the Department of Homeland Security as a human capital solutions specialist. She joined LMI because of her brother. “My brother encouraged me to apply for jobs here because he was having such a positive experience,” she said. “Eventually, he forwarded a job posting that spoke to my passions and that is how I am here today!” And, her experience has been as positive as her brother’s. “What I enjoy most about working at LMI is that the leadership encourages and invests in our growth and development. They envision us as part of LMI’s future and that’s important to me,” she said.

Despite the challenges posed by joining the company during the pandemic, Nina has thrived in her role. While she loves not worrying about a commute, she misses in-person interactions and connecting with others. “Having started virtually, I’ve met colleagues in ‘real life’ only a handful of times,” she said. To connect with her coworkers, she likes to text memes. “Memes and emojis remind people that I have a personality,” she said.

More About Nina

A defining time in Nina’s life was when she lived abroad for 5 years. “I was one of the many affected by the Great Recession, which hit shortly after I graduated from college. Seoul, South Korea, was one of the few places with an opportunity for work and adventure,” she explained. “What started as a 1-year contract to teach English test prep and counsel students ended up as a 5-year stint teaching other teachers, managing teams, and finding my passion in human capital management and organizational development.” Being physically disconnected from family, friends, and cultural and societal expectations (and realizing she didn’t speak the language as well as she thought) allowed Nina “to be independent and self-reliant, which helped instill a newfound confidence,” she said.

Nina admires healthy competition, such as reality shows like “Top Chef” and “Survivor.” “I appreciate the resilience in these unique environments, despite the occasional cringe-worthy moments,” she said. Nina admires collaboration, particularly in trying times. When asked who she would like to have dinner with, dead or alive, she said Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Nina said, “Although it didn’t come easily, they illustrate how great leaders can work together for a common mission by leveraging one another’s skills, network, and position.”

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