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I am NGA: Amanda Park

 Sept. 10, 2015

 Kris Mackey
 Office of Corporate Communications

Amanda Park is a self-proclaimed workaholic. She won the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Analyst of the Year in 2014 but insists she was “just doing her job.” When asked about her professional accomplishments, she prefers to change the subject and boast about her two Chihuahuas, Biskit and Brady, and her wife, whom she says she rarely sees due to her work.

Park was born in Sevilla, Spain, and raised in northern California outside of Beale Air Force Base where her father was stationed and where her interest for the U.S. military was born.

“At the time, Beale was home to the [Lockheed SR-71] Blackbird and the U-2. When I was 17, my father took me to the 9th Reconnaissance Technical Group and I was able to see an actual roll of SR-71 film. From then on, I was hooked,” said Park.

After high school, Park graduated from photo interpretation school and served seven years in the Air Force. Her last assignment was to the United States Central Command in Tampa, Florida. When she separated from the service, she was immediately hired by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency as one of the original 117 analysts deployed to support teams around the world. She has been with NGA for the last 20 years and now serves as a senior GEOINT analyst.

Jose “Joe” Estrada-Rivera, deputy chief of the NGA Support Team to CENTCOM, said Park’s knowledge base is impressive.

“Her military experience helps her put things into operational context, and her guidance is highly valued by the command,” said Estrada-Rivera.

Park’s primary role is to understand and influence the analytical effort and direction of the NST and to advise analysts and managers at all levels on GEOINT tradecraft, said Park’s supervisor, Patrick Holden.

“In this role, she researches internal and external production, level of effort and requirements, and provides unbiased information to NST leadership so they can ensure the proper employment of our limited resources,” Holden said. “Park is that person you want in the conversation before making decisions that could make or break an NST mission.”

Because of Park’s subject matter expertise, last summer she was called on by NST leadership, flag officer leadership within the Director of Intelligence office, and people at the Director of Operations level for critical mission support.

“Park also provides substantive awareness of regional issues throughout the Middle East, Near East, and South and Southwest Asia,” said Holden. “Most importantly, she is charged with mentoring analysts across the NST due to her vast knowledge, experience, and being well-liked and respected here.” According to Holden, Park has mentored hundreds of analysts in her 20 years and various roles with CENTCOM.

“She has helped developed some of the best analysts in the community due to her selfless service and mentoring abilities, as evidenced by the five NGA analysts that were either quarterly or yearly award winners under her mentorship,” Holden said.

Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Joshua M. Didier, an intelligence specialist, is a product of Park’s mentorship. They worked together for four years at CENTCOM, both in Tampa and overseas.

“Amanda Park is my friend, boss, mentor, leader, manager and subject matter expert,” said Didier.

Early in his career, Park was Didier’s supervisor. He credits her as having an immediate impact on his career.

“Our initial interactions were rocky. I was a young analyst with limited experience. I found her extreme attention to detail frustrating, but her passion for all things geospatial and her outgoing personality were inspiring,” said Didier. “We became dear friends during long hours, working products on conflicts in Yemen where I quickly realized how respected she is at NGA and in the CENTCOM community for her knowledge and her passion.”

Didier said Park is the greatest driving force behind his leadership style.

“When she became the USCENT- COM NST operations officer, I became her deputy,” Didier said. “She taught me that you must set a standard for your people and never erode your goals to meet modified objectives. She explained that people enjoy their work and want to work with a leader who helps them achieve things they didn’t know they could accomplish.”

Didier said that Park’s tough approach is balanced with humor and accessibility.

“She always keeps her door open to give advice, professional or personal, and she can always make you laugh,” said Didier.

Park’s reputation has her on call for briefing or hosting countless civilian and military dignitaries, which have included four NGA directors, then CENTCOM commander, General Tommy Franks, several CENTCOM intelligence directors, the director of Australia’s Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation, and others.

For all of Park’s success, she remains humble.

“I just think I do my job well and I want to share my knowledge and work ethic with others,” Park said. “I work too much, spend too little time with those I care about, and am in a constant state of sleep deprivation. That’s not a complaint. I thrive in that environment. But, if anyone knows of a 12-step program for workaholics that can be done on an abbreviated schedule, like three steps in one day, please contact me.”