by Mike Perricone
For Jane Monhart, all roads have led to home.
An inveterate hiker and traveler, from Maine to Kilimanjaro, the new manager of the Department of Energy's on-site Fermi Group is happily resettling in the western suburbs of Chicago where she grew up and maintains many connections with family and friends.
Monhart attended the University of Illinois at Chicago to study political science and government, before moving on to graduate school in public administration at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.
Her first professional responsibilities at the Department of Energy involved working as a management intern with DOE Chicago Operations at Argonne, helping set up the hiring, salary and management structure for the new facility down the road that would later be named Fermilab.
To say that things have changed since then is an obvious understatement. But the most striking change she has perceived is not an alteration to old familiar places. It is an alteration in the political outlook she has witnessed at other stations and during her tenure at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"I came of age in a time when we saw government as a way we could make a difference in the world," she mused while moving into her new office on the sixth floor of Wilson Hall. "And I think people had an appreciation that they could make a difference in government. I'm not sure we have that appreciation any more."
Monhart sensed a consistent perception about DOE in the atmosphere of Washington, one she found troubling, but one she felt immediately and strongly contradicted at Fermilab. And here, she again sees the potential for making a difference.
"In D.C., we hear criticism every day," she said. "Taxpayers have a negative view of the Department of Energy, and the media questions whether we're serving the public well. But Fermilab doesn't fit that picture. This Lab is in a good position to provide leadership across the DOE complex to change that perspective.
"It's a pleasure to come to a place where people are excited about what they're doing, and where there is community support," she continued. "I couldn't ask for a better assignment. When [Chicago Operations manager] Bob San Martin offered me this position, that was really a memorable day."
Speaking of her day: "I need more than 24 hours," she said with a laugh.
No wonder, with this array of interests: Reading history, from the American Revolution and Thomas Jefferson, to World War II and Winston Churchill. Downhill skiing, tennis, golf. Hiking in the Alps, and in exotic locales, such as Nepal, and camping at a Buddhist monastery near Mount Everest.
"We were in a valley, but our elevation was 13,000 feet and the mountains were still soaring over us," she recalled.
Also: Windjammer cruises off the coast of Maine, where her mother and father now live. Photo safaris to Tanzania, and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. New Zealand is her next travel goal.
Her continuing professional goal is making a difference, which she has made a priority at each step in her career. She has been a DOE contracting officer, negotiating with such industrial giants as GE and Westinghouse, and a deputy area manager at the Brookhaven National Laboratory office. Moving to DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C., she worked on environmental restoration for the Hanford, Washington site, then served five years as deputy director of the Contract Reform Project Office with a focus on overhauling contracting policies.
And now, the road home.
"Little did I know that I would come full circle," she said. "Now, being at one specific site, I can work on some ideas that have grown over the last five years. Taxpayers expect outstanding service, management and value for their tax dollars. Fermilab is in a good position to provide leadership in that direction. It's very clear that Fermilab is a premier, well-managed science institution."
|last modified 2/11/2000 email Fermilab|