I am mission success: Richard Tighe
Consolidated Nuclear Security President and Chief Executive Officer Rich Tighe.
Take 5 minutes and learn about Consolidated Nuclear Security’s Richard Tighe, president and chief executive officer. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.
Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) President and Chief Executive Officer Rich Tighe and his younger brother Jim played high school football for a legendary Iowa coach — their father Dick Tighe, whose career included more than 400 wins during 63 uninterrupted seasons.
Teamwork and football were familiar themes in the Tighe (pronounced “tie”) household in Webster City, Iowa. That “Friday night lights” culture of the small Midwestern town helped shape Tighe’s leadership philosophy.
“Everybody plays a part on the team,” he said. “In football, you might have to wait until your senior year to play, but the contributions you make to the team while you wait your turn are important.”
In his first few months as president and CEO, Tighe has been busy meeting National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Production Office and CNS leadership teams; local, state, and national elected officials representing the West Texas and East Tennessee areas; NNSA leadership; and site and laboratory directors from across the Nuclear Security Enterprise.
Tighe is taking advantage of the extensive knowledge of the CNS team.
“There is tremendous knowledge and experience at both sites; by working to be inclusive, I’m able to use this to the best advantage in informing decisions,” he said. “I’m new to CNS, but even the most experienced person at Pantex or Y-12 can’t be an expert in all aspects of our work or the sites. Getting input from other people helps all of us take advantage of the full expertise available.”
Before joining CNS, Tighe served in roles with Bechtel and Lockheed Martin, and he is no stranger to the Nuclear Security Enterprise, having spent more than a decade at the Nevada National Security Site. Tighe was also a postdoctoral fellow in the Nuclear Science Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California.
“Coming back to NNSA is like coming back to my roots,” he said. “It takes me back to my foundation in nuclear physics, which helps me understand the mission of both sites and how it fits into the broader Nuclear Security Enterprise.”
What daily task lets you know you’re helping achieve the CNS mission? How/why does that task let you know you’re working toward the mission?
No two days have been the same, so far. Meeting and talking to employees during tours and all hands meetings helps me to put their work in the context of the bigger picture of our mission.
How does patriotism factor into your life?
Patriotism becomes most meaningful to me when I think of the role the U.S. plays with our allies and adversaries around the world. It’s rewarding to be involved with such an important purpose and mission.
What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?
When I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Nuclear Science Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, I was the lead investigator for the work involved in the discovery of Sb 105 (antimony 105), a nuclear isotope along the proton drip line that has implications for nucleosynthesis. I proposed and planned the experiment, analyzed the data, and wrote the journal article.
What’s your favorite outside of work activity?
When we lived in Maryland, my daughters were involved in high school sports and also played on travel teams. My wife and I enjoyed traveling to their games and tournaments. My daughters and I had a tradition of running in a Turkey Trot every Thanksgiving. While I seldom run in 5Ks or other races these days, I typically run four times each week. I also really enjoy watching college football, particularly watching and attending Notre Dame games.
Betty’s “boop” provides safety, security for Pantex engineer
Pantexan Claire Streeter is open to educating people about Type 1 diabetes and service dogs like her standard poodle, Betty.
Pantex safety analysis engineer Claire Streeter has her own emergency alert system: A white standard poodle named Betty. Betty is a full-time service dog with a vital mission: Keep her person safe.
“Her job is truly just to monitor my blood sugar levels for my diabetes. She’s trained to boop her nose on my leg to get my attention,” said Streeter.
When Betty “boops,” Streeter puts a hand in front of Betty’s nose for a reading. Betty pushes Streeter’s hand up to indicate high blood sugar levels and down for low levels. Without this vital notification, Streeter could pass out or experience long-term damage to soft tissues.
“I have a lot of monitors that I wear, and she’s faster than my monitors,” said Streeter. “Not only is she faster, she’s more accurate. She runs about 90–95% accurate while the pumps and meters run about 70–80% accurate.”
Streeter is open about sharing her disability and talking about Betty’s role in her life. After all, she said, it is hard to conceal a large white standard poodle on campus.
“I want to be open about educating people in the plant both about Type 1 diabetes and service dogs,” Streeter said. “I think there are a lot of misconceptions about service dogs: how to obtain them, what they do, even the cost of obtaining one, and people are also curious about what they do – for example, people are always fascinated that she can tell me what my blood sugar is. She has a much bigger purpose and a higher responsibility – she is a much more highly trained dog than many people expect.”
“I feel it’s a helpful metric for the company to identify places where they could make things more accessible in an able-bodied world. As a company, you think of the obvious, like ramps and elevators, but you wouldn’t necessarily think to have doors set up differently so a dog could go through. It’s important to recognize who’s working for you and why some of those things might be a beneficial change,” she said.
Betty goes everywhere with Streeter: trains, planes, buses, boats, cars, and even bars.
“We went to Chicago for St. Patty’s day, and she was in the bars with me. She came out green, but she went in and she did her job,” Streeter said.
No matter where Betty is— deep in dreams on the floor of Streeter’s work area, or wide awake and keeping a close eye on Streeter’s nighttime panic button in case it needs vigorously booped— Betty’s highest role is making sure Streeter can do anything she wants to do.
“She’s a medical device in the form of a big white fluffy dog with attitude that just happens to be at the end of my arm. I see her as an attachment of my arm. So, a lot of times when I walk into the room, I don’t think people are going to look at me and think I’m disabled,” Streeter said. “I don’t think it defines me or my job. I want people to look at me and think I’m just as capable of doing any job whether I have a dog or not. It was a big step to decide to have such a visible sign that I have a disability, but I’m going to own it.”
I am mission success: Chris Ickles
Meet Chris Ickles, deputy chief information security officer at Pantex, who plays a key role in the security and strategic defense of our network and systems.
All views and opinions are the employee’s and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.
While cybersecurity is frequently regarded as the act of protecting a network of information and systems from theft or damage, a key element of its definition and study is acknowledging how people factor into its defense and practice.
Many information theft cases are a result of human error due to negligence or lack of cybersecurity awareness. It’s important to recognize the impact we all have in safekeeping our technology.
As a key expert, leader, and direct support to the site, Pantex’s Chris Ickles is integral to the strategic development and operations of CNS's Cybersecurity programs.
By ensuring that our interconnected network of information, systems, and people are protected in the digital landscape, Ickles focuses on CNS's daily cybersecurity defense posture in analyzing risk balanced security measures and forming strategies against cyber threats.
What daily task lets you know you are helping achieve the CNS mission?
Cybersecurity is multifaceted. It has a primary responsibility to protect and defend our systems and our data. This precipitates actions across the entire enterprise that begin with security awareness, training, policies, procedures, requirements, testing, verification, and validation of all systems and users that support our mission.
Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
My professional background originates in networking. It started while working in public school systems with a passion for technology. As far as doing what I envisioned for myself as a young adult, no. I graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in science and majored in chemistry and biology with a minor in math, but I was hooked on computers by the time I graduated. This quickly became my passion.
What CNS principle drives you to be successful?
My drive comes from the principle of continuous improvement. This mindset involves personal knowledge and skill growth as well as system improvements. We all benefit from a learning environment both at work and at home. Sometimes we teach and sometimes we learn. We need to expect daily opportunities for both.
What work advice would you offer someone who is starting work at Pantex?
Fully comprehend the job they are hired to do (e.g., role, responsibility, work result, impacts of success). Your professional approach to your work is important to our mission and impacts the nation.
What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?
I taught high school chemistry three years prior to entering IT and networking.
I am Mission Success: DeRema Dalton
Take five minutes and learn about CNS's DeRema Dalton, special tooling planner scheduler at Pantex. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.
Patriotism and the passion to fulfill the mission tasked to Pantex run in DeRema Dalton’s blood — as it has for generations of family before her.
She has worked at the plant for 28 years, the third generation of a family that has sacrificed to support this important mission since Pantex was formed.
“As the country was experiencing the Great Depression and my grandparents’ farm was failing due to drought conditions, my grandpa — Roy Hyatt — moved himself from Wellington, Texas, to Amarillo,” Dalton said. “He came to work at Pantex in 1942.”
His son — Dalton’s father, Charles — joined in 1969 as an assembly operator (now known as a production technician).
“I’m very proud of the services and sacrifices they put into their work at Pantex,” Dalton said. “Grandpa helped build this place, and my dad assembled weapons. What an honor, knowing the wars we were going through during those eras and how my grandpa and dad helped protect this country.”
Dalton’s late husband, Wendel, began working at the plant in 1972. He served most of his career as a firefighter, sacrificing many Christmas Days to ensure the plant’s safety, but also becoming a first-rate cook. (“Those guys in the fire department can cook!” she says.)
Dalton began working in 1994 as a subcontractor clerk and served in several departments before finding a home in the planning department in 2001. She works to ensure that her assigned programs run smoothly, which requires intense coordination with her team.
“My daddy walked these same hallways,” Dalton said. “It makes me feel really proud. We’ve all made our sacrifices for working out here, and I’m not far behind them. It happens, and that’s what we do. We make sure our country is safe and our freedoms are still here.
“I’m very serious when I talk about my patriotism and how proud I am of my family working out here,” she said. “It means everything to me.”
How does patriotism factor into your life?
My uncle served in World War II and my cousin in Vietnam. My patriotism runs deep, and I am very proud of the service they gave our country.
I am very proud of what we (as Pantexans) are doing to make our country safe.
I have buried family and friends—I miss them with all my heart—but one thing I know: What they did in their lifetime meant something. As my kids always said, “they protected us from the bad guys.”
So, here’s a piece of advice: Hug your loved ones (including coworkers) every day and often. What we do at Pantex means something and needs to be recognized as heroic.
What is your favorite aspect about your work environment?
How does that aspect make you know the mission is being met? In the beginning of my career, just the overall feeling of pride was everywhere. You just knew that you were a part of protecting our country and our future.
As an employee, what do you want to be remembered for?
I want people to remember me as hardworking, fun, loving to be around, honest, and truthful.
What work advice would you offer someone who is new?
Listen to the old-timers. We know what we’re talking about.
Never try to sugarcoat the truth. Be straight up. Truth sometimes hurts, but your reputation grows from that, and people know who they can trust.
What’s your top bucket list item and why?
To travel to Israel. I want to walk the streets where Jesus walked and feel that presence in my soul.
Veterans deliver on the mission across CNS
With more than 2,260 veterans employed across both sites, CNS understands and values the skills that previous military experience brings. The CNS mission is often a logical fit for veterans as working at Pantex or Y-12 allows them to continue their service to the nation.
“Veterans are able to transition into the workforce at CNS easily,” explained Emily Graber, CNS director of Human Resources’ Engagement, Inclusion, and Performance department. “They often are hired for not only their technical skills, but also their leadership, teamwork, decision making, problem solving, and loyalty.”
CNS works hard to actively recruit veterans for open positions through a variety of avenues such as in-person and virtual job fairs at military transition offices and bases, as well as tools such as LinkedIn and Indeed. Programs including Veterans to Engineers and the Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge internship act as a path to more easily bring in veterans who have retired or are near the end of their military service careers.
CNS has been partnering with the DoD SkillBridge program for almost three 3 years, and has hosted more than 56 veterans during that time. The program allows transitioning service members to spend up to their last six 6 months of service on active duty with CNS. It also gives CNS an opportunity to determine if the participating veterans are a good fit for the organization and allows for an easier transition into a full-time position if the placement is available.
“We are honored to partner with the DoD SkillBridge program to offer an opportunity for transitioning service members to intern with us here at CNS,” said Graber. “Our program has a great reputation for bringing on talented veterans who are able to come in and immediately make a positive impact at CNS based on their experience and prior service to the nation.”
To date, CNS has hired 33 SkillBridge interns into full-time positions, which showcases the value that management sees in the program.
“The Skillbridge program was a huge benefit to my family and to me,” said former SkillBridge intern and current Y-12 communications specialist Matt Pippin. “I was able to intern here at Y-12 and learn how to apply the skills I gained in the Army to the CNS mission. Y-12, in many ways, is similar to working on a military installation so it made the transition from Army life to civilian fairly smooth. Making the transition from military life to civilian is quite difficult so I was happy to see how CNS supports service members and veterans trying to build the next stage of their life.”
CNS also provides support for veterans after they are hired. The Serving our Service Members Affinity Groups at both sites support veteran employees and families during military service, assists with hiring from the veteran community, and provides volunteer and social opportunities with larger East Tennessee and Texas Panhandle veteran groups.
In fiscal year (FY) 2022, CNS successfully hired 288 veterans, which was an increase from the 113 veterans hired in FY 2021. Due to this accomplishment, CNS was recently awarded a gold medallion by the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, which recognizes employers for their efforts to recruit, employ, and retain our nation’s veterans. The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans (HIRE Vets) Act of 2017 was signed into law in May 2017. The Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) administers the HIRE Vets Medallion Program. This is the third year in a row that CNS has received the gold medallion award for its work in veteran recruiting and retention.
An additional recognition at Y-12 in FY 2022 came when Site Manager Gene Sievers received a Patriot Award from the DoD’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program. The award, while given to single person, reflects employer efforts to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off before and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence. More than 100 active guard members and reservists work at Y-12.
It is not the recognition that keeps CNS recruiters actively searching for veterans to fill positions time and time again. With real-life work experience, accountability for their actions, strong work ethic, and good performance under pressure, veterans have a plethora of skills that are invaluable to employers. CNS is proud to employ many of our country’s heroes as we all work side-by-side toward our collective mission.