As branch chief of fluid minerals (oil, gas, geothermal, and helium) for the Colorado State Office-Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Kemba Anderson ’02 is a big STEM and STEAM advocate. She manages a team of engineers, geologists, natural resource specialists, petroleum engineering technicians, and land law examiners and has worked in several states including Maryland, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, and Nevada.
Kemba says as a result of the natural resource field still being male-dominated, she has been passed over for promotions and has delayed completing her PhD on several occasions due to having to work “ten times harder than my male counterpart.” In addition to her work duties, this 2017 Leadership Academy graduate has served as special emphasis program manager throughout her BLM career service, as black employment coordinator and federal employed women coordinator, and is currently a diversity change agent. In 2020, she was honored with the BLM Director’s Award in Diversity and Inclusion. She says now is the time for women and minorities to make a change and to make a difference.
“Sometimes I am the only person of color or the only women in the room. I use these situations as opportunities to create awareness. My advice is to be willing to fail and fail often and to learn from mistakes in order to make yourself and others better at what they do.”
In her sixteen-year career at BLM, Kemba has seen the glass ceiling slowly changing with more women entering in STEM/STEAM careers, but says the change is not happening as quickly as it should. Also, she says, this increase is being seen in the lower grade levels. In the higher grades, the gender ratio is about 85% men to 15% women. “There are still individuals who have traditional ideas of what a woman’s career should be. I have been in meetings where the men thought I was the note taker until I was introduced and then it’s a ‘whoa moment’ realizing I’m the boss of the group.”
My philosophy on life is that it takes one person to make a change but a society to make a difference.
- Kemba Anderson ’02
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