National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Wendy Levine

Location: NWS Headquarters, Silver Spring, MD
Office: Office of the Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Job Title: Senior Policy Lead
Wendy Levine

Educational Background:

  • I received a BS in Geology and Geophysics from Yale University in 1986.  The Geology and Geophysics Department included curricula in atmospheric science and geophysical fluid dynamics.  I also have an MBA from University of Maryland with a concentration in information systems.

Describe the career path that led you to your current job with the National Weather Service.

  • I began my career at NWS with summer internship positions after my sophomore and junior years in college. I was fortunate to spend a summer in Salt Lake City working for the Western Region Scientific Services Division. After junior year, I worked for what is now Meteorological Development Laboratory (MDL) and they were able to hire me as a temporary employee after I graduated and eventually transitioned to a permanent position. Over the years I’ve held numerous positions at NWS headquarters as a programmer on Automation of Field Operations and Services (AFOS) computer network; as the Special Assistant for Advanced Systems (to MDL Director); working on developing Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) requirements; supporting NWS implementation of new systems and services during the 1990’s NWS modernization; and strategic planning and policy development.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • In my current position as COO Senior Policy Lead, my focus is on development of new policies and helping NWS staff interpret current policies related to NOAA’s Policy on Partnerships in the Provision of Environmental Information. This includes establishing an internal and external understanding of the operational role that NWS plays within the broader context of our Enterprise Partners (other government, private sector, and academia); developing guidelines for NWS interactions and partnerships with external partners; and engaging Enterprise partners to seek input on proposed changes to our products/services.
    I have also enjoyed being active in the area of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA), both on the NWS Diversity Management Council and my office’s Diversity and Inclusion team.

What was the most interesting, exciting, or impactful weather/water event you experienced while working for the NWS and why does it stand out?

  • Hurricane Gloria (1985) hit Connecticut during my senior year in college. It was exciting to experience this as I finished up my studies in atmospheric sciences and after having worked 2 summers for NWS. This was the first major weather event where I was acutely aware of the role NWS played in ensuring public safety. It was also startling to see, first hand, the damage that hurricanes can cause, even in southern New England.

What made you decide to pursue a career with the NWS?

  • As a student employee, the mentors I worked with early in my career definitely influenced my decision to continue my career with NWS.  My interests in organizational development and information systems fit closely with NWS modernization activities which were ongoing at the start of my career.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • Besides being part of an amazing team of employees who all are deeply committed to the NWS mission, NWS provides a wealth of opportunities to get involved in areas of interest to each employee. I’ve particularly enjoyed working on projects that involve collaboration of employees across NWS. This includes both work for my primary office duties, as well as becoming involved in working with employees across NWS in supporting DEIA efforts, to ensure NWS employees all feel they are valued and belong.

What advice do you have for someone interested in a career with the NWS?

  • In addition to ensuring you are fulfilling the educational requirements for the job series you are interested in, looking for opportunities to volunteer or intern with NWS or another organization is always useful. I entered NWS as a student doing programming after having taken only one computer course in college.  

What training or coursework would you recommend to someone interested in following your career path?

  • As a new employee, don’t be afraid to volunteer for leadership opportunities or to become involved in projects that can expand your understanding of what goes on across the NWS. If you are interested in a policy-related career, AMS’s Summer Policy Colloquium is a wonderful opportunity to increase your understanding of how science can drive the direction of policy development and how national policy can influence science and science-based services.