Profiles of Members of EPA's LGBT Community: Charlena Bowling
Public Affairs Specialist
The Center for Environmental Solutions & Emergency Response
Where were you born?
What brought you to EPA?
I began as a part-time student contractor referred by my college adviser in 2004 – it feels like pure luck that I was in the right place at the right time to get my foot in the door of the agency! I began in the National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC), and I guess I did an okay job because they kept me on as an intern and later converted me to a permanent employee. I’ve been here for 13 years now, 11 as a federal employee.
Describe the type of work you do at EPA.
I’m a Public Affairs Specialist with the National Risk Management Research Laboratory’s communications team. My team works with NRMRL management and researchers, and with the Office of Research and Development/National Research Program Communications Teams, to communicate NRMRL’s work both internally and externally. I help coordinate media/interview requests for NRMRL researchers, and work on social media content, fact sheets, writing/editing, and other communications materials. I recently stepped down from my collateral duty as the Special Emphasis Program Manager for the LGBT Program in Cincinnati but I’m very proud of that work and thankful I got to be involved.
What is your highest level of education? What was your major?
I have a bachelor of science degree in homeland security and counterterrorism.
What inspired you to fight for equal rights for the members of the LGBT community?
I cannot ever remember thinking that people in the LGBT community should be viewed any differently than anyone else. I have friends and family who are LGBT and they’ve just always been a regular part of my life like anyone else. I guess it never occurred to me that supporting LGBT rights was something I had to decide on - it was something very natural for me and I know it’s the right thing to do. When the opportunity arose to be involved in the Special Emphasis/Diversity Program, I eagerly joined, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to have a hand in making a difference for our LGBT federal employees.
What message would you like to send other members of the LGBT community who are considering college or a career in environmental protection?
Go for it! The government is continuing to progress in the right direction and can only do so with a diverse and supportive staff working on those issues. In many cases, the government workplace is better suited for protecting individuals' rights. EPA is on the leading edge of LGBT policies in federal agencies and I think we will remain there. People at the EPA are really committed to their work, and it shows!