National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
 
Wendy Sellers

Location: Silver Spring, MD and Washington DC
Office:
NOAA HQ, Office of the Under Secretary
Job Title: Program Coordination Officer
Wendy Sellers


Educational Background:

  • M.S in Atmospheric Science from North Carolina State University.
  • B.S. in Meteorology from North Carolina State University

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

  • The first 11 years of my NWS career followed the typical path of a field forecaster. I began my career as a Meteorologist Intern at WFO Monterey, CA. After about two years, I took a promotion as a Journey Forecaster at WFO Charleston, SC. I gained very diverse experience in forecasting due to my work on both the West and East Coasts. However, after over a decade of forecasting, I felt that there might be other ways that I could contribute to the success of the organization. 

What do you do for the NWS?

  • As the current NWS Program Coordination Officer, I act as the liaison between NOAA HQ and NWS HQ. I interact directly with NWS and NOAA leadership, including the NOAA Administrator. In this role, I provide background information on NWS issues and priorities to NOAA HQ, as well as staff the NOAA Administrator during NWS-related meetings and travel. There have also been opportunities for me to collaborate with the Secretary of Commerce staff and the White House.

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

  • The absolute highlight of my time as PCO, as well as my career, is meeting President Obama after the Hurricane Preparedness Briefing at FEMA HQ. Planning this annual event is usually the most stressful task as NWS PCO, especially since it occurs just after the PCO transitions to their role at NOAA HQ. After weeks of intense work, including many long hours and late evenings at the office, meeting the President and hearing him express his appreciation made all the effort very worthwhile!

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

  • I have always been drawn to the mission of the NWS. We are not trying to sell anything...we are simply providing a life-saving service to the community. It is very rewarding to be in a career where all of the knowledge I gained in college is being put to operational and productive use each day. I am so proud of the work that we do as an organization.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • I have always been so proud of the people who work for the NWS. NWS employees join this organization because of their passion and dedication to the mission, a dedication that persists despite the difficulties of shift work. I am so happy to have the fortune to work alongside such high-quality colleagues in every location I have been.

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

  • I emphasize to prospective NWS employees that they should remain flexible when it comes to their career location and career path. The NWS offers amazing opportunities from coast to coast and off the continent. I encourage students not to limit themselves only to areas of the country with which they are most familiar. I mention the changing role of the meteorologist that looks beyond just issuing forecasts toward assisting decision makers in interpreting the forecast and understanding impacts.

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

  • I tell all potential candidates that the key qualities for success as NWS PCO are communication, organization, stress management, and flexibility. These are skills not easily learned through traditional coursework or training but can be fine-tuned via everyday experiences in their current jobs.