05 Feb MEET YOUR BOARD: Ronnyka Fitzpatrick, Budget Director, S&T, DHS
Ronnyka is the Budget Director for the DHS Science and Technology Directorate. She is dual-hatted as the Branch Chief for the Budget and Performance Branch. She grew up in a political family and worked for several Members of Congress on Capitol Hill.Â Â Ronnyka has been involved in WHS for at least four years and joined the board in 2015.
“This applies to any woman, whether in homeland security or not:
donâ€™t let a position define you.Â YouÂ should define the role and take on additional responsibilities. “
WHS: Â What do you â€œdoâ€ inÂ your day job?
I make sure S&T is executing funds according to the spend plans, while helping to build budgets for the out-years. In other words, making sure the day-to-day needs are met and planning for S&Tâ€™s future needs and requirements.
WHS: Â What did you study in school, and why?
I studied architecture and interior design. I love how the built environment can influence peoplesâ€™ moods and sense of community.
WHS:Â Looking back on your life and career, what makes you most proud?
Throughout my career, Iâ€™ve challenged myself and remained flexible. These qualities have proven especially useful at DHS. Iâ€™ve been able to continually grow, learn and adapt to situations at DHS CFO, USCIS and CBP â€”which I think help me to get to where I am now.
Â WHS:Â What advice do you offer to young women considering a career in homeland security?
This applies to any woman, whether in homeland security or not: donâ€™t let a position define you. You should define the role and take on additional responsibilities. And if you feel there are no opportunities for you, remember youâ€™re not stuck. Thereâ€™s always a work-around, an open doorâ€¦you just have to find it.
WHS: Â How does WHS contribute to securing the homeland?
It helps to educate, inform and connect people. Homeland security is such a male-dominated field; it was great to discover (through WHS) that other women are involved and are in leadership positions. It can sometimes feel impossible to break that glass ceilingâ€¦until you see other women doing it and realize that you can, too.
WHS: Â If you were in charge and had all the resources you need, what would you do first to improve homeland security?
I would do a complete reorganization. DHS is still composed of fiefdoms. â€œOne DHSâ€ or Unity of Effort is a work in progress. I would start with training and create a DHS core â€“ a group of individuals who are trained across the DHS components (beginning at GS-9) so that when they reach leadership positions, they understand cross-cutting implications or benefits of policy decisions.