By Dolly Rairigh Glass

traci-jones-headshotGrowing up with a father in the Air Force, Traci Jones always had an interest in working for the Department of Defense. Early on, she saw his service and dedication, and it inspired her to want to give back to the nation as well. Her interest in working for the DoD never faded and when she was a junior at the University of Central Florida, the young engineering major applied for a co-operative education position and was selected for a Navy program that kick-started her now 28-year career working for the DoD.

“It was an awesome opportunity and I was immersed very quickly into the military environment, being on board with Navy military officers and civilians,” Jones said about her co-op assignment with the Naval Ordnance Test Unit. “I saw the importance of the Fleet Ballistic Missile Program as one of three main tenets of our national security and it really got me invested in wanting to work for the government and for the DoD.”

Following her co-op experience, Jones was hired by the Navy, then spent time working for the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Services Division, (NAWCTSD) before joining Project Manager for Training Devices (PM TRADE) as an engineer. Today, Jones is the Assistant Program Executive Officer for Project Support at the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI). In this role, she oversees the engineering, finance and acquisition logistics directorates and the Workforce Development Office. She also serves as the ombudsman and sponsor of the SETA and Wounded Warrior contracts.

“From the beginning, with my father serving in the Air Force, coupled with my time working for the Navy, and now my current position serving the Army, I consider myself purple because I’ve kind of touched all of the services,” Jones said. She also spent time working for the Joint Simulation System as the Deputy Program Manager for Joint DA.

As well, Jones serves as the Acquisition Career Management Advocate for PEO STRI, an area she knows is extremely important to the continued growth and success of the employees. “We are responsible for the recruitment of the best and brightest that we can possibly get to work for PEO STRI,” said Jones referencing PEO STRI’s Acquisition Academy program.

The Academy, which introduces new people and fresh ideas into the federal government, is an 11-week course for developmental employees.

“We do all the Acquisition Academy recruitment, the selection and then the placement of those people. But, we’re also responsible for making sure those same people grow in their own careers, and we give them lots of opportunities to move across the organizations to serve in different roles throughout the PEO.”

When Jones was in college as an engineering student, she was one of very few women pursuing an engineering degree. Today, as a leader at PEO STRI, Jones is helping to pave the way for female executives in the modeling and simulation community.

“I feel I bring a unique perspective to the workforce,” Jones said, citing her background was one of only a few without military experience. “It can be intimidating if you allow it, but with confidence and support, the more you do, the easier it becomes.

“I’ve had great, supportive and respectful role models who appreciate what I do,” she said. “And I do work hard.”

She also works hard at her “other duties as assigned.” Jones serves as the Army Principal for the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), where she leads the Army’s participation in I/ITSEC. She is also the civilian liaison for the Sunshine Chapter of the Association of the United States Army.

Having grown up in a military family, Jones moved every couple of years until she was 13. Although she’s been in Florida since then, she enjoys an opportunity to travel with her family. She and her husband have two daughters, both in college, and their dog, Toby, who admittedly is their ‘empty nest’ dog. Jones enjoys being outside, at the beach, walking Toby or gardening, and recently took up golf. “I’m not very good at it, but I like being outside!” she said of her new hobby.

Jones said she feels very blessed with what life has handed her and now she feels it’s even more important to give back to the community and to others. She is in a mentorship program with UCF and SAIC for women in science and engineering. The program pairs up professional women with UCF students, and through the relationships that are built, the mentors provide encouragement and support to the students.

“I’m very blessed in my life because I have been given so much,” said Jones. “I do like to give back. I feel the more you’re given, the more you should give back.”

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