Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of winning the future through their work.
Guest blog by Dee Alexander, Program Analyst, Decennial Management Division’s Outreach and Promotion Branch, U.S. Census Bureau
As an employee in the U.S. Census Bureau, I serve as a program analyst in the Decennial Management Division’s Outreach and Promotion Branch. My key responsibilities include responding to internal and external stakeholders, and the planning implementation and evaluation of assigned American Indian and Alaska Native and decennial communication program activities and products related to the 2010 Census.
My journey into this profession started many years ago. I grew up in a suburb of Del City, Oklahoma. Both of my parents were government employees and they worked at the Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City, Oklahoma until they retired. After high school, I attended Rose State College on a basketball scholarship and graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Travel and Tourism. Later, I received my Masters Degree in Project Management from George Washington University in 2007.
In 1998, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce recommended me to the Census Bureau’s Kansas City Regional Office for a Partnership and Data Services Specialist. This position was responsible for developing partnerships primarily with federal, state, local and tribal governments for pre-census and Census 2000 promotion activities. This position allowed me to develop partnerships with the 39 Federally-recognized tribes in the state of Oklahoma for pre-census and post Census 2000 activities. I also felt that being a member of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribe was instrumental in forming these partnerships. These partnerships helped in producing and creating a new geographic delineation now known as an Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area, (OTSA). This delineation is documented on the Census 2000 and current 2010 AIAN Wall map. The AIAN wall map is the product most requested from the AIAN population. The work accomplished for Census 2000 helped in my employment to the Census Bureau Headquarters office.
In the beginning of 2010, I was among the staff chosen to observe the Census Enumeration on January 25, 2010 in Noorvik, Alaska. I observed training with Alaska natives and learned a lot about how we enumerate remote Alaskan villages. The Census Bureau always conducts its first enumeration during the Remote Alaskan operation and strives to meet with the village leader for approval and participation.
Closer to home, I have led the development, review, and implementation of the Census Bureau’s American Indian and Alaska Native Policy Statement. This work was very gratifying because the Bureau received many recommendations from key stakeholders both internally and externally. This work is continuing this year with the development of a handbook titled, “U.S. Census Bureau Handbook for Consultation with Federally-Recognized Indian Tribes.” The handbook outlines the method in which the Census Bureau plans its consultations between federally-recognized tribal governments and the Bureau’s national and regional offices.
I also spend time educating tribes about the statistics used by policymakers, small businesses, economic developers and others to identify and exploit market opportunities and to help them make informed decisions. My role in helping customers access our website and showing them how to acquire Census Bureau data and data products not only furthers our mission, hopefully it also aids in much needed economic development by giving users the tools to start up and expand their businesses. My role in helping people with their businesses or planning is one step in helping win the future as well as continuing to build upon the partnerships that we create along the way.
This year, I will celebrate National Native American Heritage Month by spending time with my eight year old daughter and teaching her about tribal affiliation. Her father and I think it is important to remind her what it means to be an American Indian so she can be as proud of her heritage as we are.
I would advise young Native Americans who are interested in a profession similar to mine to continue their education and focus on a degree in statistics, economics, geography or communications. This a great place full of talented, dedicated, and helpful employees who all come from diverse backgrounds. I enjoy my work here and I know that others do as well.