CPSC Celebrates The Women Who Help Us Work Toward Consumer Product Safety | OnSafety

CPSC Celebrates The Women Who Help Us Work Toward Consumer Product Safety

Denise Beatty – Director, State & Local Program, Office of Compliance & Field Investigations

What brought you to CPSC?
The mission of the CPSC was very appealing to me. I previously worked in the insurance industry for several years helping customers to reduce the risk of injury and property damage, as well as providing strategies to mitigate damage. Public service is a high honor and provides an opportunity to give back to the nation and my community.

What do you like most about working for product safety?
The CPSC State and Local Program provides a unique opportunity to work with a wonderful group of state health, safety, and injury prevention professionals all across the country. Their commitment to safety is unwavering and their “can do” attitude serves as fuel for all of us to go the extra mile to keep families safe and expand the reach of the CPSC brand.

Denise Beatty

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
My mother, the late Estelle Parker, inspired me the most in my life. She was a very caring individual, great encourager, and a woman of few but profound words! She had great faith and a very kind heart. She and my father provided our family with much wisdom and a firm foundation for our lives.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
I look forward to additional opportunities to express creativity through collaborative programs with State and Local governments which can help expand the CPSC brand and encourage states to build capacity to achieve mutual goals.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
In November 2017, I completed the United States Office of Personnel Management’s LEAD Program for managers. I enjoy reading, travel, and advocating for children to pursue and achieve higher education goals.

Tilven Bernal – Program Manager for Western Hemisphere, Office of International Programs

What brought you to CPSC?
A friend shared some very good things about working for the CPSC, especially in regards to its mission and staff. An opportunity to work in the Office of International Programs came at a time in my life when I was looking to make a change in my career and to work on something meaningful and fulfilling. I was also very excited that, after many years of working in the private sector, I was going to be able to work on government and international relations, which is a passion of mine.

Tilven Bernal

What do you like most about working for product safety?
It is very satisfying knowing that what I do has a real impact on people’s lives. I appreciate that the work we do at the CPSC matters and has tangible results. What can be better than working to save lives?!

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
I don’t have to go far to find inspiring women. My mom is an incredibly hard-working, dedicated person with a heart of gold. She taught me many things from just watching her go through life: strength, patience, purpose, love. I’ve also been very blessed with friends whom I’m proud to know: Those who work on human rights for women and girls; those who help refugee families to adapt to a new life after war; those who sponsor kids in poverty; those who share their faith with love and compassion; those who help their mothers; those who are single moms; and those who are raising kids to be strong and kind. They are all an inspiration to me. And I must give a shout-out to my dad who told me I could do anything and encouraged me to work hard to achieve my dreams.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
I plan to continue the work of creating and implementing new and exciting projects. I also hope to continue growing professionally and to never stop learning new things.

Karla Blackwell – Supervisory Product Safety Investigator, Office of Compliance & Field Investigations

What brought you to CPSC?
I was excited to become a part of the CPSC as I was seeking a position where I could utilize my prior work experience in investigations and work with a federal agency. This allowed me to continue my public service and to serve alongside other professionals to help make a difference.

Karla Blackwell

What do you like most about working for product safety? 
I have learned so much during my time at CPSC and have grown both professionally and personally. It has been very rewarding working with such a dedicated and talented group of people. I feel the mission at CPSC is an important one where we work to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury and death from consumer products. As a product safety investigator we are the eyes and ears of the Commission when we speak to and work with:  consumers, officials or staff at medical examiner offices, business owners/CEO’s or with other federal agencies or injury prevention professionals. As a supervisory investigator, I am blessed to have the opportunity to lead a talented and hard-working group of investigators. I feel honored to be a part of the CPSC family.

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
My mother has inspired me the most in my life. She is a remarkable Christian woman whose inner strength continues to amaze me each day. She has taught me the importance of family, a strong and honest work ethic and so much more. Her love, support, and encouragement have proven to be invaluable and made such a difference in my life.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
I look forward to perpetuating and enjoying the personal and professional relationships that I have developed over the years at the CPSC. I also look forward to accomplishing many initiatives as we carry out our important mission.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
I enjoy many different hobbies, including yoga, dance, music, and traveling. I also love outdoor activities, such as, hiking, biking and fishing.

Sylvia Chen – Program Manager for East Asia & Pacific Affairs, Office of International Programs

What brought you to CPSC?
Prior to joining CPSC, I was a journalist for 14 years. That work helped fulfill my childhood dream to be a writer who tells the stories of ordinary people. Now, at the CPSC, I have been given the opportunity of speaking to people around the world with a very important message: When you make safe products, you’re saving lives. In that sense, my career at the CPSC continues my dream.

Sylvia Chen

What do you like most about working for product safety?
At the CPSC, I get to working with many groups of people: international product safety regulators, industry organizations, manufacturers, exporters, buyers, and other sourcing professionals. My job is to provide them with the guidance and technical support for understanding U.S. safety requirements, and, in particular, the latest requirements for consumer products. I feel very proud that many of the Agency’s international education and outreach activities I organized and coordinated have contributed to meeting this goal.

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
Marie Curie (1867-1934), who was renowned for her pioneering research in chemistry. Here was a woman with a spectacular an impactful career in science during an era when women were too often confined to “the kitchen” – generally perceived as the area of work that suited them best.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
I plan to continue my contribution to CPSC’s international education and outreach activities to prevent hazardous products from reaching consumers.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
I love reading books and listening to classical music. I also enjoy impressionist paintings. And for a dozen years, when my kids were young, I was an avid volunteer at Montgomery County Swim League and Montgomery Soccer Inc., which was very fun!

Rocky Hammond – Docket/Hearing Coordinator Specialist, Office of the Secretary

What brought you to CPSC?
Back when I was a junior in high school, I was placed at the CPSC as part of a secretarial training program at my vocational school… and I’ve been here ever since!

Rocky Hammond

What do you like most about working for product safety?
I love helping people. No matter what task I’ve performed at the CPSC, I’ve always been dedicated to helping my colleagues and our consumers. And I have grown so much along the way. Working at CPSC even helped me to be a better parent. As a single mother, I applied what I learned here in order to create a safer environment for my child.

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
I was very close to my previous supervisor, Sadye Dunn, Secretary of the Commission from 1973-2001. She gave me plenty of encouragement and showed me how to believe in myself and to put my all into everything I do. She also took the time to explain things to me that were difficult to understand by just reading. Then I would say, “Oh that’s what they mean! Why didn’t they just say that?!” We had a great relationship.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
I’ve done it! I started out in the resource pool and had the opportunity to work in many offices, as well as with various Commissioners. I worked the CPSC hotline for 10 years, where I learned a ton. Since 1987, I have worked in the Office of the Secretary – first for the deputy secretary and then the secretary. Every year here has been a pleasure. What else am I looking forward to? Retirement!

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
Laughing and making people laugh. I’ve always said that when I retired I would do standup comedy. Perhaps that will help me overcome my shy streak! Mostly I want to continue helping people, so I plan on doing some volunteer work. Of course my favorite thing of all is to spend time with my grandchildren. Maybe I’ll even drive a school bus. But my son says the children need to get to school on time – apparently he thinks I drive too slowly. I guess CPSC has inspired me to be a safer driver!

Bev Kohen – Deputy Director, Field Operations, Office of Compliance & Field Investigations

What brought you to CPSC?
I came to the CPSC right out of college and started as a Field Investigator. I wanted to work in the area of consumer protection, so I focused my job search on government agencies. During my senior year of college, I was interning at the Delaware Division of Consumer Affairs and realized that I enjoyed working with consumers and helping them with their issues. After college, I knew I didn’t want a desk job, so being an Investigator was the perfect fit because I was out and about for part of my work week.

Bev Kohen

What do you like most about working for product safety?
It’s different every day. In the field, there is no such thing as a “routine job.” One day you could be dealing with grieving consumers who lost a family member due to a faulty consumer product and the next day you are inspecting a company that manufactures defective products.

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
My aunt who is now 95 has been a big part of my life. She was a working mother who always supported women having it all: a career and a family. She was also both a middle school art teacher and a very talented artist.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
I look forward to continuing to modernize and improve the way that the field goes about doing its work. I also recently completed a three-month training course for Women in Leadership, which was a fabulous opportunity.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
I get up each morning and swim a mile before work. This allows me to get my thoughts in line for the day – and it’s when I tend to come up with the best ideas. I also like to travel and experience other cultures. My husband and I do mostly eco-touring where we are outdoors hiking and learning about the environment. My kids are over 18 but still enjoy traveling with us, and I love our family trips. I hope to keep them up as long as my boys want to be with us!

Sydney Lucia – Program Analyst, Office of International Programs

What brought you to CPSC?
Right after finishing college in Vermont, I moved to DC to start a Master’s program at American University and started to look for jobs and internships to get a head start on my career. I became a Pathways intern with the Office of the Executive Director for almost a year. Once I graduated, I was lucky enough to transition to an open position in the Office of International Programs. This worked out perfectly, not only because of the timing, but also because both of my degrees focus on international cooperation, so it’s great to put my skills to work every day.

Sydney Lucia

What do you like most about working for product safety?
I like that what we do makes a real, tangible difference in people’s lives. Through my work in international coordination, I know I’m helping to keep consumers safe – both in the U.S. and worldwide. That’s a wonderful feeling.

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
My mom has definitely been my biggest inspiration. She was a single mother for much of my childhood, and I know she faced many difficult situations – but she never let them get in the way of her support for me. She has always helped me to achieve my objectives and encouraged me to do what makes me happy. She has also inspired me to pursue activities that she loves, such as travel and learning new languages. And I adore her sense of humor, tenacity, and her ability to connect with everyone she meets.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
I’m looking forward to continuing to grow and learn more, and to do the best job I can. CPSC has given me a lot of opportunities for career growth so far – I’m excited to see what comes next!

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
I love to spend time with my fiancé and our dog, whether it’s taking walks in the neighborhood or watching period dramas. As an avid Francophile, I lead a women’s social group dedicated to all things French – such as French film, conversation hours, or pastry sampling. I also love to practice yoga and to bake all sorts of desserts and breads.

Maryanne McGerty-Sieber – Product Safety Investigator, Office of Compliance & Field Operations

What brought you to CPSC?
I came to CPSC after having worked in Public Affairs for the Department of Defense and in private industry. My parents both retired from federal employment and I was lucky enough to have spent some time working with them. We worked at a facility that bought food, clothing, and medical supplies for the military. It’s also where they hand-embroider the Presidential flag! This facility’s mission was important, but it had a specific audience. Whereas the CPSC has a much larger audience: We provide product safety information for all consumers – from babies to seniors. And what an important role we play in consumer’s lives to help make products safer!

Maryanne McGerty-Sieber

What do you like most about working for product safety?
I enjoy talking about all the great work that CPSC does through media interviews, conducting presentations, and meeting consumers. I am amazed at what CPSC’s employees have accomplished for such a small agency. Getting that information out to all consumers is such an important part in completing the mission of product safety. Also, CPSC is a very progressive agency – when the Field Office began telecommuting 23 years ago, I was fortunate to have been a part of it from the beginning.

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
The woman that has inspired me the most is my mom. In the last several years, she has developed memory issues and watching her struggle at times with seemingly routine activities is hard. We look to our parents for guidance in life, but when you reach the point where those roles become reversed –where they now need your help – it makes you realize how important we all are to each other. She faces this struggle with a smile on her face and is so grateful for the simplest things that we do for her.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
I am looking forward to further promoting the Agency by expanding my contacts with the media, state and local offices, and injury-prevention contacts in my area. As a Field Investigator, we gain knowledge and experience with each assignment, and that helps us get our important messages out to consumers.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
I love watching my two young adult daughters reach accomplishments in their lives through academics and their careers. Supporting them is the most rewarding thing any parent can do. And I can’t forget to mention that my family and I are life-long Phillies fans!

Manijeh Poorahrab – Lead Accountant, Office of Financial Management

What brought you to CPSC?
The mission of the agency, the positive vibe from the panels when I was interviewed, and the great location.

Manijeh Poorahrab

What do you like most about working for product safety?
The Finance division! I also like how just a small group of knowledgeable staff at CPSC can work together toward something really huge – the safety of our people.

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
My mom – her endless strength and patience were always inspiring. She faced so many problems and still stayed strong for her family. She was nominated and awarded twice for the Best Mother of the year. I am who I am because of her.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
To advanced myself to next level and learn as much as possible.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
I love gardening and cooking. I also lead a small group of women who meet monthly to share ideas for living better, staying positive, and helping others.

Colleen Richardson – Product Safety Investigator, Office of Compliance & Field Investigations

What brought you to CPSC?
I came to the CPSC in search of a more challenging position within the federal government that would best utilize years of transferable skills.

Colleen Richardson

What do you like most about working for product safety?
I enjoy teleworking and the independence of managing my assignments. Most importantly, I am proud to know that my investigative work actually saves lives.

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
My mother was always my inspiration. She was a smart, talented, and loving human being. She taught me about self-respect, and having respect for others.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
As I near retirement age, I know that I will continue to spread the message of product safety – something that most people take for granted.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
I am active in my church and supportive of my husband’s ministerial endeavors. We enjoy traveling and helping others.

Lisa Scott – Fire Protection Engineer, Division of Engineering, Directorate for Laboratory Sciences

What brought you to CPSC?
I started my career in a research laboratory environment and left for other opportunities in the standards development arena. I quickly realized I missed the hands-on laboratory work. My job at the CPSC is a good blend of what I liked best about those previous experiences.

Lisa Scott

What do you like most about working for product safety?
It’s been 19 years – how the time has flown by! CPSC appealed to me because it was an opportunity to use my engineering and laboratory skills to make the market tangibly safer. Also, my previous experience in electrical standards development was one or two steps removed from the work we do at CPSC, whereas our work directly impacts the safety of products.

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
There have been many! I was influenced by a middle school math teacher who encouraged me as the lone girl in an advanced math program. Then there was a woman I knew in high school who was a computer scientist but who broke the “nerd” mold. And I credit the sisterhood of women engineers in college for keeping me in the field. In my first “real” job at NIST, a mechanical engineer’s perspective as a working mother resonated with me during a Women’s History Month program. These are a few of the people whose snippets of wisdom I have borrowed and internalized along the way.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
My career here has bridged both electrical engineering and fire protection engineering at CPSC. When I started, I never would have predicted the transition to where I am now. I find the variety of work engaging and look forward to new opportunities.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
I enjoy many different crafts, including crocheting with a group of yarn enthusiasts at NPTEC. While I enjoy the portability of a ball of yarn and a hook, at home I enjoy the blend of art, math, and geometry needed to make quilts.

Monica Summit – Deputy Executive Director for Operations Support, Office of the Executive Director

What brought you to CPSC?
The mission of product safety brought me to CPSC. My prior work also involved safety at an agency that collaborated with CPSC on several initiatives which I found meaningful and interesting. So when the opportunity was posted on USAJobs.gov I applied. Now I am here contributing to the mission at CPSC!

Monica Summit

What do you like most about working for product safety?
The work of our Agency impacts everyone!

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
My mother has inspired me the most in my life. She encouraged me, believed in me, and was by my side throughout my life journey.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
Still a relative “newbie,” I am looking forward to getting to know the CPSC team and to work together toward our mission. I am also very excited to be part of the future of CPSC.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
I have served for ten years on the Finance Council of my Church, and am still serving…

Paige Witzen – Textile Technologist, Division of Engineering, Directorate for Laboratory Sciences

What brought you to CPSC?
Our Agency is one of the few places in the DC metropolitan area that has positions specifically for people with a background in textile science.

Paige Witzen

What do you like most about working for product safety?
I like knowing that the work I do on a daily basis helps to ensure that consumers are not injured from dangerous products (in my area, dangerously flammable textiles).

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
Julianne Hough and Lady Gaga are two women who have inspired me for personal reasons. I have endometriosis and fibromyalgia which they each have, respectively. I love the awareness that they bring to these issues, and they motivate me to live my best life despite these diseases.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
I look forward to becoming an expert in the field of textile flammability and using my knowledge to help keep consumers safe.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
Some additional hobbies of mine include knitting, yoga, and ballet.

Patricia Adkins – Executive Director, Office of the Executive Director

What brought you to CPSC?
Since I didn’t know about the CPSC, for me, it’s who rather than what brought me to CPSC and allows me to continue my service. Over my 11 years, I’ve learned about our valuable, life-saving mission, had the opportunity to work with talented and committed staff, and hopefully, to have made a difference in the lives of the children and families we serve every day. And what a great public service opportunity it is!

Patricia Adkins

What do you like most about working for product safety?
Knowing we’re making a difference in the lives of others, working with a great staff, and learning new things every day.

What woman (or person) has inspired you the most in your life, and why?
My mother. She’s wise beyond her 102 years, loving, feisty, and persistent. She has instilled in me a strong work ethic, the importance of family and friends, and the values of following a Christian life. Many times I miss the mark on the last one, but I keep trying, with the support of others.

What are you looking forward to in your career at CPSC?
I’m in the sunset of my CPSC career, but I want to end the way I started – trying to make a difference every day for consumers and our staff.

What are some of your outside interests, hobbies, accomplishments?
I’m a music lover (jazz, R&B, classical and gospel) and concert/festival goer.

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