National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Deirdre Jones
Deirdre Jones

Location: Silver Spring, MD
Office of Facilities (OF)
Job Title: Director of Office of Facilities

As Director of Office of Facilities, Deirdre Jones plays a critical role in the daily functions of the National Weather Service. Although seeing where she is today one might not assume it took her three tries to get on board with the agency 25 years ago.

Deirdre is what many would call the definition of determination and persistence. In the 8th grade, Deirdre decided she wanted to become an engineer after an inspirational visit to the Kennedy Space Center on a family vacation. After her visit, everything she did was to ensure she became an engineer; she took science courses, attended engineering summer programs and remained inspired.

Deirdre was often faced with gender stereotypes. “I used to follow my father around with a screwdriver, and my mom would yell at me telling me not to touch or break anything,” she said. “The challenge was overcoming the barrier that I’m not supposed to be technical,” Deirdre added. Nevertheless, Deirdre looked forward to attending school everyday, so she could participate in her favorite STEM classes.

Her hard work resulted in a scholarship to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological school in the English-speaking world. During Deirdre’s first year of college she learned the difficulties of being an engineering major which resulted in the loss of her scholarship. However, she did not use this as an excuse to give up. Instead, she used it as motivation to work harder towards a degree. After completing her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Deirdre later earned a master’s degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.

While searching for a job in 1992, Deirdre heard about an opening with National Weather Service and applied despite her lack of knowledge of the position. With nearly 5,000 employees in 122 weather forecast offices, 13 river forecast centers, nine national centers, and other support offices around the country, she knew that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work at this important federal agency. After interviewing for the position, Deirdre was denied, but encouraged to keep applying for other openings within the agency. She understood the prominence of NWS and did not let that discourage her. She continued to apply for openings three more times. Fortunately, the third time was a charm. Deirdre’s journey began with NWS as a Quality Assurance Chief. While at NWS, she held a variety of positions, from Systems Engineering Chief to her current position as Director of Office of Facilities

Throughout her journey, Deirdre understood there were challenges to be faced as a woman in what may be considered a man’s industry. However, she accepted the challenge and took on the hard work with determination. “You don’t have to give up who you are to be in STEM,” she said.

Not letting stereotypes, a couple of hard college courses, nor rejection cloud her vision of becoming what she had dreamt of being since the 8th grade is what makes her a true inspiration to girls and women everywhere. She believes, “Ultimately, the adventure is what you make of it.”