Spotlight on Commerce: Laura Spining, Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

Tue, May 08, 2018

Cross-posted with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Ed. note: This post is part of a series for Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) May 6-12, showcasing the vast and diverse work of Commerce employees collectively working together to deliver important services that are helping the American economy grow.

Guest blog post by Laura Spining, Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

I appreciate the opportunity to participate in Public Service Recognition Week. My career in Washington now spans more than two dozen years with service in the private, non-profit, and public sectors. Currently, I serve as a supervisor to a stellar group of civil servants who bring a wealth of experience and expertise from both the private and non-profit sectors. Like me, they are all dedicated to the Department of Commerce’s efforts to expand broadband availability throughout the nation, especially in rural areas.

Born an Army brat on a base in Bavaria, Germany, I consider myself a native Tennessean with deep roots in coal country, Kentucky. While my father was stationed overseas, I spent much of my early childhood with my maternal grandparents, who lived in Boyd County, KY. Boyd County was a vibrant and growing place to live during the early part of the 20th Century as the coal and steel industries brought high paying jobs to the area. The population more than quadrupled between 1880 and 1980. Since 1980, it has seen a steady decline in population, in sharp contrast to the bustling and vibrant life in D.C.

As a high school student, I was inspired by my civics teacher, Anne Pierson, and history teacher, Sara Baird, who encouraged me to pursue an undergraduate degree in education and government. Upon graduating from the University of Tennessee, I moved to D.C. with the intention of getting some practical experience in government, and served as an intern on Capitol Hill.

In 2009, I began my tenure with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). I especially love NTIA, one of the smallest agencies of the Department of Commerce, because I work so closely with a top notch team of civil servants dedicated to our mission to "expand broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expand the use of spectrum by all users, and ensure that the Internet remains an engine for continued innovation and economic growth."

And on a personal note, I love getting to work on my bike. In NTIA, we have a tradition participating in a bike challenge each May and October and I encourage all my fellow Commerce employees to join that challenge. Working right in the heart of DC, I love that I can ride my bike to work every day, and am an advocate for those who can to do the same and if not to work then to enjoy the bike trails in the area on the weekends.

The best learning experience of my life was working as a camp counselor in rural Tennessee during my collegiate summer breaks. The camp brought together youth groups from across the U.S. to provide minor home repair services to folks in the struggling rural towns of Tennessee. This experience, along with my early life in Kentucky, keeps me committed to the Department’s mission to promote economic growth and foster innovation in our country’s struggling communities.