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ALBUQUERQUE — Joan Woodard bristled at the word “contractor.”
The 57-year-old nuclear weapons program manager is retiring in May, and she was reflecting on the changes she has seen since she first stepped through the doors at Sandia National Laboratories 36 years ago as a young solar energy researcher.
When she started at Sandia, national service was the driving motivation. In the past 15 years, a shift in the relationship between the federal government and national laboratories like Sandia has taken root, with management by profit incentive rather than rooted in national service.
In the early years of her career, that was not how it worked.
“We were never referred to as ‘contractor,’” Woodard said in a wide-ranging interview.
Woodard is homegrown Sandia talent, with a career that tracks the arc of change at Sandia since the 1970s. She came to Sandia with an undergraduate degree in math, and earned her master’s and doctorates at Stanford with Sandia’s help.
Long prominent at Sandia and in the national nuclear weapons community, she surprised many of her colleagues Feb. 10 when she announced via an e-mail to the Sandia staff that she was retiring.
She will be missed, said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.
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