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. 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:
don’t let a position define you. You should define the role and take on additional responsibilities. “
WHS: What do you “do” in 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&T’s future needs and requirements.
WHS: What did you study in school, and why?
I studied architecture and interior design. I love how the built environment can influence peoples’ moods and sense of community.
WHS: Looking back on your life and career, what makes you most proud?
Throughout my career, I’ve challenged myself and remained flexible. These qualities have proven especially useful at DHS. I’ve been able to continually grow, learn and adapt to situations at DHS CFO, USCIS and CBP —which I think help me to get to where I am now.
WHS: 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: don’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 you’re not stuck. There’s always a work-around, an open door…you just have to find it.
WHS: 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 ceiling…until you see other women doing it and realize that you can, too.
WHS: 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. “One DHS” or Unity of Effort is a work in progress. I would start with training and create a DHS core – 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.