From the Asia-Pacific Chapter, AIG
President of the Asia-Pacific Chapter, AIG Betty Vega was treated to an evening with Mary Kendall sponsored by Young Government Leaders. The event was a professional development opportunity to “talk story” in an intimate setting at the Ke’ehi Lagoon Memorial, May 30, 2012. Ms. Kendall provided insight into her “accidental” and unconventional career path to becoming the Deputy Inspector General, and now Acting Inspector General of the Department of Interior. Well respected IG Earl Devaney has been her mentor for 21 years and influenced her approach to listening and spending time with people who are on the ground – the people behind the scenes who keep the organization alive, do the day to day work, and who understand both the internal and external aspects of “how things really work”. Ms. Kendall entered government service in 1986 as a temporary career choice; but once bitten by the public service bug, she has remained a federal employee for 26 years. In the fall of 1999, Ms. Kendall became the Deputy Inspector General at the Department of Interior. She explained her instrumental role in transforming the Department of Interior OIG into a highly effective organization. Pursuing high impact cases that were meaningful to the organization demonstrated why certain prosecutions were pursued and cemented the cooperative and collaborative relationship that she enjoys with the Department’s leadership. Ms. Kendall discussed what some describe as “straddling the barbed-wire fence” – maintaining independence in reporting to Congress on one hand and being a trusted resource for the Department on the other. She described having a “healthy tension” through mutual respect and developing constructive recommendations with solution-oriented options. Ms. Kendall shared how she used cross-functional and interdisciplinary teams to investigate, evaluate and quickly report the Department’s performance the summer of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Overall, Ms. Kendall provided the group with valuable, practical information on how she continues to improve the way her office conducts business.