Debra G.

Human Resources Specialist

“You really can do anything you set your mind to. Maybe it’s something you never tried before—but how will you know if you can do it unless you try?”  

You might say that Debra (“Debbie”) was destined to find her career home at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In fact, she’s originally from the same town as USPTO headquarters—Alexandria, Virginia.

 As a child, Debbie’s parents taught her a simple yet profound formula for success: treat everyone with respect, and family is everything. These values have helped Debbie develop an almost natural propensity for customer service. 

“At age 15, my very first job was working for People’s Drug Store (now known as CVS Pharmacy), Debbie recalled. "I encountered young and older customers there, and I loved giving assistance to all of them.  It was rewarding to assist someone and have them leave with a smile."

An early pathway to a federal career

This job experience, as well as the fact that her sister worked for the federal government, piqued Debbie’s interest in charting a pathway toward federal service.

“I wanted to follow her footsteps since she was my role model,” Debbie explained. “So, in high school, I began preparing for a secretarial career by enrolling in classes like Typing 1 and Typing 2, shorthand dictation, and office skills which included accounting and bookkeeping.”

Debbie then connected with her high school’s Cooperative Office Education Program office. They secured her an interview for a public-facing, entry-level USPTO position. “I thought working at the Patent and Trademark Office would be really interesting,” she said.

She was offered the job, a role in what was then called the Office of Information Services—her first federal job and the start to her civil service career.

Later, she left the agency to focus on raising her children. She returned 22 years later to her current role as a Human Resources Specialist specializing as an Awards Advisor in the Performance Management and Awards Division (PMAD) of the Office of Human Resources. PMAD handles awards, performance management, and the Paid Parental Leave Program.

Debbie's employee experience

Debbie considers herself very fortunate to work with PMAD colleagues. They fondly refer to their team as “The Gold Team” because they strive to maintain excellence in all they do. And though they may be a smaller team, they’re a mighty one.

“We’re unified,” Debbie described. “We help one another, stepping in wherever assistance is needed, and we really care about one another. It’s our motto that we all make an effort to help one another—from the managerial staff to the office assistant. Truly, this is a work family.”

“PMAD teleworks full time and connects by scheduling a coffee break or team touch break for well-being check-ins.” explained Debbie.

In her specific role, Debbie ensures USPTO employees receive their monetary and non-monetary awards. She also answers customer questions, provides guidance, and coordinates across the agency in order to host outstanding annual award ceremonies.

Debbie finds these tasks fulfilling. “I enjoy working with the pubic and having the pleasure of assisting our customers,” she said.

Her work is also dynamic. “I enjoy a challenge. A lot of my time involves working with the new USA Performance system as well as leading an awesome Awards team, who are all excellent in keeping the awards programs efficient,” Debbie added.

For Debbie, the USPTO is home 

The USPTO is the only federal agency Debbie has worked at, and she’s proud of that.

“It’s home,” she said. She advises people who are looking for similar career satisfaction to “have a lot of patience, understanding, and compassion. Learn how to communicate, adapt to change, and problem solve. Humility, willingness to learn, and especially teamwork also go a long way.”

“You really can do anything you set your mind to,” said Debbie, “Maybe it’s something you never tried before, but how will you know if you can do it unless you try?”