Several weeks before December 2010 Tunisian protests triggered a wave of unrest that spread to other Arab countries, Shane Morris was given the job of ensuring that packages of classified material moved securely between U.S. embassies. Her experience personally escorting State Department pouches in the Middle East and Africa helped in her new role as a supervisor in the Diplomatic Courier Service during the Arab spring.
Morris’ time on the ground equipped her to find creative inroads when traditional routes were blocked. “We have very stringent security requirements,” she says. “The pouches—you go where they go.”
When access to Bahrain was cut off due to political uprisings, Morris quickly found an alternative and organized a meeting between local airport authorities and U.S. personnel to ensure, for the first time ever, that diplomatic couriers had tarmac access in the United Arab Emirates.
“The toughest part is to manage the changes when something falls through,” she says. “We’re forced to use new ways of thinking.”
Fighting the tendency to use the same tried-and-true methods can be tough in the government, which frequently favors the routine. For her achievements, Morris, who recently turned 30, is a finalist for the Service to America Medals Call to Service honor.
“It’s amazing just how much you can achieve when you don’t have the luxury of no for an answer,” she says.