Stories of service: The impact of federal employees on the West Coast
Back to Blog

Stories of service: The impact of federal employees on the West Coast

April 10, 2023
Keyonna Murray

When most Americans think of our government, they immediately think of Capitol Hill, the Cabinet, Congress and nationally recognized political figures who help enforce federal policy.

However, these parts of our federal government are only a small component of a much larger organization that shapes individual American communities. At the heart of the public sector are local federal workers, the vast majority of whom work outside the Washington, D.C., area. These career civil servants include public affairs specialists, engineers, researchers and many more who shape the standard of living at the local level.

As Public Service Recognition Week approaches, the Partnership will highlight these public servants to demonstrate the positive impact our government has on communities across the country and to build support and appreciation for the federal workforce.

Using the Stories of Service platform, put together by federal employees in Oregon, this blog showcases the experiences of two federal employees located on the West Coast who have found fulfillment in serving their communities in a meaningful way.

Service in local communities

The West Coast has plenty of opportunities for those seeking federal employment outside the Washington, D.C., area. Oregon and Southwest Washington, specifically, are home to roughly 40,000 federal employees.

Yewah Lau works as a district ranger in the Hood Canal District of the Olympic National Forest. Over the past two decades, Lau has built a robust career that started with a Presidential Management Fellowship in 2000.

Some of her most notable career accomplishments include working as a National Environmental Policy Act coordinator for the Olympic national forest and as a planning staff officer at the Deschutes and Ochoco national forest. Despite all of these milestones, Lau consistently cites her supportive team as playing a critical role in her successes. She compares her specialized unit to being a sort of family, considering many of her coworkers “aunts and uncles.”

Another public servant making an impact is Kyle Anderson, who is currently an electrician at Lookout Point Dam and a volunteer firefighter based in his hometown of Pleasant Hill, Oregon.

After the extremely large Holiday Farm Fire of 2020 unleashed destruction across a 25-mile highway, Anderson was called upon to help lead a task force of over 40 people to clear debris from the roadway. His critical level of involvement in the crisis led him to secure the nickname “Road Group Anderson.”

While Anderson received a salary for leading the task force, he decided to donate all the funds to charity. That decision emblemized Anderson’s larger belief that those who can put themselves in a position to give back should.

“The public is counting on us to get it done whether the world is falling apart around us or not,” he said.

Yewah Lau and Kyle Anderson are two examples of the many faces of our federal government on the West Coast and across the country. If you are interested in learning more about the many ways to celebrate federal employees this upcoming May, sign up to receive updates on this year’s Public Service Recognition Week.

In the meantime, Stories of Service is a great resource for learning more about those who make a difference for the public.

Keyonna Murray is an intern on the Partnership’s communications team.

Leave a Reply