Meet the Digital Service at VA Champions: May 2018

Every few months we release a blog post spotlighting some of our new members, sharing who they are and where they came from. While our mission is clear — to deliver better government services to the American people through technology and design — our work would not be possible without the civil servants we partner with. In honor of Public Service Recognition Week, we want to take the opportunity to highlight some of the champions who support our team at Veterans Affairs.

Mark Junda

Contracting Officer

Mark Junda

How long have you been in government? In what roles?

14 Years. I began as an acquisition intern in DoD, and after a few years I spent time managing acquisitions on the program side. In 2009 I came to the VA Technology Acquisition Center where I soon became a Contracting Officer. While serving as a Contracting Officer, in 2016 I was assigned the role as the Agency Acquisition Innovation Advocate.

How have you been working with the U.S. Digital Service?

I help enable the Digital Service to be successful by leading a team at the TAC to award their contracts. I work with them to understand their needs and assist in formulating those needs into contracts where we can partner with the right vendors to successfully deliver services to the Veteran.

What is your favorite thing about being a civil servant?

There is a purpose behind our work that I get wake up and get behind each day. At VA we have a very noble mission which motivates us to be successful. There’s a continued sense of satisfaction in this work. It also helps that I’m surrounded by hardworking people who make a great work atmosphere, which fosters a great culture. I’ve been very blessed by the opportunity to be a civil servant!

What is your favorite motto?

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

What is the coolest thing you’ve done in the last 6 weeks?

My family went on a short trip to Kalahari. It was a fun place to take our kids and those smiles will always be remembered.

Jenny Heiland-Luedtke

Deputy Director, Digital Media, Office of Communications, Veterans Health Administration

Jenny Heiland-Luedtke

How long have you been in government? In what roles?

15 years. I spent my first 11 years in government with the National Library of Medicine (NLM), part of the National Institutes of Health. I’m a medical librarian by training and have always enjoyed connecting people to the information they need. At NIH I led a team working on websites and associated technical tools. In 2013 I had the opportunity to join the Veterans Health Administration to help connect Veterans to the health information they’re looking for. I’m the Deputy Director for our digital media team in the Veterans Health Administration, working with websites and social media across the organization. With many Veterans in my family, it was a wonderful chance to give back to that community.

How have you been working with the U.S. Digital Service?

I’ve worked with U.S. Digital Service since 2015, serving as a liaison between their team and the Veterans Health Administration, including a part-time detail with the VA Digital Service in 2016. It’s been marvelous to marry the expertise of people from the private sector with the experience and knowledge of career employees like me. We’ve been able to make things easier to find and use for Veterans and are now working together on a project to improve the Veteran experience on va.gov.

What is your favorite thing about being a civil servant?

I am passionate about supporting our customers by measuring and improving the user experience on our medical websites. I strive to make interaction with the government easier for our Veterans and, hopefully, help them lead healthier lives.

What is your favorite motto?

Assume everyone around you has the best intentions. Over my career, I’ve found so many people committed to helping the public we serve. If you go in to discussions assuming your colleagues mean well and want to do the right thing for the customer, you’re much more successful: for yourself, but more importantly, for the customer.

What is the coolest thing you’ve done in the last 6 weeks?

We just planted a new herb and vegetable garden. I love watching plants grow and develop.

Chip Harman

Content Strategy Manager, MyHealtheVet

Chip Harman

How long have you been in government? In what roles?

31 years. I started in another career track, in foreign affairs, developing, publishing and distributing English textbooks for worldwide distribution. Then this thing called the internet came along, and I converted a few dozen textbooks into web resources that really took off worldwide. After a few years of managing that and trying to pull management into the digital age, I moved to a larger web operation for US foreign policy information that included multiple languages and innovative uses of technologies, both front and back-end. Ten years ago I moved to VA and developed training and governance resources for VHA web managers, as well as publishing a national public website for telling Veteran health success stories; I am proud that it continues to this day. I jumped at the chance to move to MyHealtheVet, and have enjoyed watching our user base grow, listening to Veterans about their health concerns and needs. I am constantly amazed by the health care tools that are being developed on the site for Veterans to use.

How have you been working with the U.S. Digital Service?

Since 2015, we have been supporting efforts to make Veterans’ web experience seamless, through sharing of data and audience research. I and my team have benefited a lot from USDS training, re-orienting, and mission focus. I am impressed by the skills that USDS team members bring to the work. MyHealtheVet has made improvements in its offerings to Veterans because of USDS, and I am really looking forward to seeing what we’ll be doing with them in the next year.

What is your favorite thing about being a civil servant?

I get to serve a higher cause than my paycheck. Really.

What is your favorite motto?

Shorter is usually better.

What is the coolest thing you’ve done in the last 6 weeks?

Watching the positive impact from sending out more than a million and a half emails to Veterans describing new and improved features about our website, including getting X-rays online and having video appointments with doctors. Veterans are hungry to learn about health care benefits, and MyHealtheVet is a great point of entry to a lot of them.

Carnetta Scruggs

Management Analyst and Technical Liaison for the Office of Connected Care Veterans and Consumer Health Informatics Office

Carnetta Scruggs

How long have you been in government? In what roles?

31 years. I served for 20+ years in the Information Technology evolution of the VA Health Administration and in project management. I joined the VA as an M developer before VA Medical Centers had automated most of their core clinical applications. I then served as a chief of an IT service managing IT staff, budget and projects. Following my technical desires, I then served as a lead software developer of class I VistA applications, supported all released Vista applications which expanded to be a lead developer for VA database integrations. For the last seven years, I am honored to be considered a technical liaison, program and management analyst for the Office of Connected care which the MyHealtheVet website, Secure Messaging, VA web and mobile apps, Telehealth and VA Video connect are products of. My role is to continuing to play a part of the never ending technical evolution and integration of VA online services, so that, our nation’s heroes have the best state-of-the-art online experience they deserve.

How have you been working with the U.S. Digital Service?

As the technical analyst for the MyHealtheVet website, I started working with U.S. Digital Service in early 2016 when to assist with online integration with VA health services.

What is your favorite thing about being a civil servant?

I am honored to have the opportunity to use my skills and interests to serve Veterans and their families in making their lives a bit better. My favorite thing is that I am not alone. In my 31+ years of service, I find most VA staff people have a Veteran’s heart as well, always looking for ways to improve services and have an ICARE attitude.

What is your favorite motto?

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” A. Lincoln 1865 — If all project goals is to provide the best service possible to the Veteran, their families and caregivers we will concede to same conclusion.

What is the coolest thing you’ve done in the last 6 weeks?

To be able to be a part of my 2 year old grandson’s first backyard adventures with nature. During the exploration, we picked dandelions for his mom, were very sociable with queen bees as they landed on the flowers, followed butter flies, and made a rare find of small eggs lying in a bird nest. He used his Tonka trucks to make roadways in the flowerpots for ants to march on. The archaeological find he was most proud of was his discovery of worms.

Dave Catanoso

Director, Enterprise Cloud Solutions Office

Dave Catanoso

How long have you been in government? In what roles?

Since February 2011 (over 7 years). I started as a senior management analyst in OIT working on financial management dashboards. Over time I worked on other projects including software quality, and several cloud utilization initiatives (latter since 2013). In 2016 I joined the IPT for Enterprise Cloud Service Broker (ECSB) effort representing Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO). In early 2017 I was selected to serve as the Implementation Team Leader responsible for leading a team of VA and contractor SME’s in standing up the initial VA Enterprise Cloud (VAEC) environments in Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS. In April 2018, I started my new role as Director of the VA’s new Enterprise Cloud Solutions Office (ECSO).

How have you been working with the U.S. Digital Service?

I had the opportunity to start working with several members of the VA Digital Services team about 2 years ago when they joined our team to support our effort to build the VAEC.

What is your favorite thing about being a civil servant?

My Dad’s four brothers were all WWII Veterans. My Dad was a Korean War Veteran. I have another uncle that is a Vietnam War Veteran. Many of my close friends and extended family members are also Veterans as am I. What I like best about being a civil servant at the VA is that every day I report for work I know that what I do is making at least some small contribution helping Veterans.

What is your favorite motto?

“Never, never, never give up.” (Winston Churchill)

What is the coolest thing you’ve done in the last 6 weeks?

The coolest thing I’ve done in the last 6 weeks is really something I’ve had the ongoing opportunity to do for almost two years now. That is working with an incredible cross-functional team of senior experts from across OIT to create and deliver the VA Enterprise Cloud, part of an OIT-wide effort to fundamentally improve VA’s ability to more rapidly leverage leading-edge technologies to improve the Veteran experience.

We have team members from EPMO, Information Technology and Services (ITOPS), Digital Services, Office of Information Security (OIS), Technology Acquisition Center (TAC), MITRE and many support contractors. The level of cooperation and teamwork has really been “cool” and it has been the key ingredient that has made our project so successful. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish next.

I also happened to be in Stowe, VT in March when it got hit with a surprise blizzard resulting in 4 epic days of powder skiing. That was pretty cool too!

The best of technology.
The best of government.
And we want you.

We’re looking for the most tenacious designers, software engineers, product managers, and more, who are committed to untangling, rewiring and redesigning critical government services. You’ll join a team of the most talented technologists from across the private sector and government.
If you have questions regarding employment with the U.S. Digital Service, please contact us at usds@omb.eop.gov and visit usds.gov/join.

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