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Leadership Spotlight: Cindy Orellana, NIST

Image via SkillUp/

Cindy Orellana was working for the U.S. Air Force in Los Angeles, Calif., when an assignment to Baltimore, Md., with a quick side trip down to Washington, D.C., changed her entire career path and life.  She fell in love with our nation’s capital and immediately began applying for jobs in order to relocate from the west coast to the east coast.  This was one year ago.  Today, Orellana lives in Rockville, Md., and works for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as a Communications Specialist.



Orellana is a Young Government Leader who has made focusing on her career path a priority in her life.  She cites having a mentor as being an instrumental tool for achieving success.  In Los Angeles, Orellana interacted with a coworker who had more than twenty years of experience working in the Air Force.  She described that she would, “go to my mentor with an idea and she would tell me yes or no.”  It was through this mentor’s encouragement that she found her skills in utilizing and implementing technology advances to improve government communications.

Orellana’s position as Communications Specialist consists of her utilizing different types of media to market NIST and to spread the program’s mission.  She contributes regularly to the NIST MEP website and is in charge of the Facebook page.  Orellana focuses on NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEP) which is a nationwide system that helps manufacturers maximize their potential growth and grow their business. MEP leverages over $100 million of federal investment into a nearly $300 million program by partnering with state and local governments and the private sector to provide a wealth of expertise and resources to manufacturers.  Each year, MEP is hired by manufacturers to solve problems, increase productivity, improve their economic competitiveness, and enhance their technological capabilities.  As a result, MEP clients increase their sales, save time and money, invest in physical and human capital, and create and retain thousands of jobs.  Orellana’s job is to market the available resources and to track the results of the economic and client-related impact. 

Orellana’s recommendation to young government leaders is to be proactive and take as much training as possible.  She is currently working on a Certification for Digital Media through American University, which will enhance her broadening technological skills.

When asked about her strategy for professional and personal development, Orellana explained her persistence in asking for feedback from her superiors.  She emphasized that communication and asking about future opportunities and areas for improvement were crucial to her success.  Orellana also said that the mentor-mentee relationship she has with her supervisor has been instrumental to her growth.  The two-way relationship has helped her develop her team-working skills by understanding more about team dynamics and work culture, and has provided her a road map for the future.

Making and impact on U.S. Manufacturing and creating jobs, which help the American economy, are Orellana’s favorite parts about her job.  While her particular position, which is very skills-intense and technology-based, is a sidestep away from her dream career, Orellana recognizes that her current position has much in common with her ultimate career plans.  She dreams of being part of something big which impacts and educates the public, and with skills in such in-demand fields as communications and technology, it seems that Orellana is well on her way to reaching that goal.

Know a federal leader who deserves time in the spotlight? Tell us about them at Please include their name, department or agency and why you think their work deserves to be spotlighted on Excellence in Government. 

(Image via SkillUp/

Lynnie Martin is the Young Government Leaders (YGL) Public Relations Director and the founder of the YGL GOLD Academy. Her day job is at the Department of Homeland Security where she is working in her dream job as a Training Specialist. She is in charge of several developmental and rotational programs for the 3,000 employees within her directorate. Lynnie moved to Washington, DC from the west coast and enjoys all the opportunities provided by living in our nation’s capital.

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