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Spotlight | Jan. 18, 2024

Dr. Kim E. Mooney's Professional Journey

Division Chief

Joining Army CID as part of the laboratory was the realization of a dream for me, the result of years of efforts perhaps foreshadowed by childhood crushes on Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Nickelodeon’s Mr. Wizard. I came to the laboratory straight from a research post-doctoral position at another Federal agency, ecstatic to become part of the league of forensic examiners – working behind the scenes to help bring about justice using science. Through a series of details and organization transformations, I shifted from examiner to laboratory quality manager to director (over quality, training, and research) to leaving the laboratory and joining the HQ staff - first as a program manager and now, a division chief. My titles set me up with responsibility over a variety of areas and required that I work with several different teams, with people that had their own individual takes on my role, authority, and relevance to their own positions.
For me, leadership is comprised of a high percentage of service – to the team, to your values, to the agency. It is about personal drive and the ability to remain focused on the values and goals that help you support the overall mission. Doing what needs to be done and what is right even if no one is watching and most especially when no one else seems willing. Being a true part of the team, working alongside teammates rather than just giving direction from afar. Supporting them, growing them, and learning from them. Not being embarrassed to admit a mistake, disclose a lack of knowledge, or ask for help. None of this requires you to be in a particular position or role.
Based on my experiences, I think my biggest take-away is that being a leader is not predicated by rank, title, or even recognized authority. It is about what you bring to the team. The way you use your voice – even if it feels like no one is listening or that you are the only one speaking up. That doesn’t mean simply being the loudest. It means being persistent. Speaking for those who cannot or who are afraid to do so. Saying what you mean and acting in a manner consistent with what you say. Being honest, even when it is difficult. Too often, we are worried about being transparent, revealing our emotions and potentially being called “soft”, but we are equally worried about standing too firm and being labeled as “difficult” (or other words). But you don’t have to be a “velvet brick.” Just be authentically yourself. Yes, that means sometimes you’ll feel alone or be the only one laughing at your puns, but masking makes you just another part of the crowd and doesn’t provide a light for others to follow.
To summarize, I’d like to end with a quote that one of my former team members shared with me:

A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.” – Maya Angelou