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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

NCI Teleworkers Meet During California Wildfires

de Coronado and Walker face each other seated at telework desks.

NCI teleworkers Sherri de Coronado (l) and Dawn Walker found each other by accident on the West Coast.

Acting on a staff accountability request from HHS, NCI’s emergency preparedness manager sent an email on Oct. 28 to NCI staff either living in or on official travel to an area near San Francisco under threat of wildfires. They were asked to confirm by email if they were safe and if they were being affected in any way by the fires.

Dawn Walker, technical laboratory manager at NCI’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology West, replied to all that she was in Sonoma County, had power and, so far, had not had to evacuate. Sherri de Coronado of NCI’s Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology also replied to all that she, too, was in Sonoma County, did not have power, but did not have to evacuate. 

Walker reached out to de Coronado, whom she found was working from a coffee shop across the street from the shared workspace Walker was using. She invited de Coronado to cross the street and work in the shared workspace as her guest. 

De Coronado took her up on the offer and was able to make use of desk space, high-speed internet and free beverages on two afternoons. Neither teleworker knew that there were other NCI staff in Santa Rosa before the fire. They discovered other things in common, such as a love of music and non-traditional career paths. 

“New friends!” said Walker.

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