Skip to main content

Employee Spotlight: Daniele Zamora Heiny

May 3, 2024

As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, we’d like to highlight the vital contributions of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) peoples at NOAA. 

We talked with Daniele Zamora Heiny, a Communications and Policy Specialist for the Office of Space Weather Observations (SWO), to learn more about her.

Daniele Heiny

Where did you grow up? 

All over the U.S. and the Pacific until I was 12, when my family moved to Germany. Places that feel most like home are the German countryside, Los Angeles, and international environments. When I step foot onto a military base or certain airports I’m instantly brought back to my childhood.

My mom is from Parañaque, Philippines and my dad from a small town in Wisconsin, so I was raised with a strong presence of both, alongside the cultures of where we were geographically living at the time and the various communities around us.

What is your role at NESDIS? 

I’m a Communications and Policy Specialist for the Office of Space Weather Observations (SWO), which includes executive communications, strategic communications, and branding. I also provide support for SWO’s interagency and international working group involvement.

What led you to pursue a career in government service? 

You could say it's in my blood. My maternal grandfather and my father are retired Army, and continued to serve as civilians afterward. They’ve been exemplary role models of commitment, pursuit of excellence, and government service, which are values that have carried into my own career. I’m proud to carry on the family tradition in my own way.

What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you? 

For me, it's about celebrating the accomplishments and reflecting on the challenges of the AAPI community; it's also a reminder to cherish and be proud of being Filipino American. I love sharing my heritage as well as learning about the deep and rich cultures within the Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora, especially during the month of May.

What has your experience as an Asian American/Pacific Islander been like at NOAA? 

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know NOAA’s AAPI community through the AAPI ERG. It’s a vibrant, supportive, and thought provoking group that has both wonderful professional growth and social aspects.

This past March I had the opportunity to interview our very own NESDIS Assistant Administrator Dr. Volz who is also the AAPI ERG Executive Sponsor. During our “Teahouse Chat” we discussed leadership opportunities at NOAA and other related questions from our members.

What I love most about the AAPI ERG is that I’m able to meet colleagues from different line offices, of various seniority levels, and in locations all around the world. I can not thank Su Kim, the ERG’s Chair enough for her leadership and for welcoming me to the group.

What would you say are your proudest accomplishments during your time at NOAA?

It’s been a busy nine months since I started at NOAA. I’m particularly proud of stepping up while SWO’s Communications Lead was on detail. Despite only being in my role for three months at that point, I effectively assumed many of her responsibilities. I’m also proud of how much I’ve learned about space weather and satellites in such a short amount of time. 

Furthermore, I had the memorable and remarkable opportunity to work on communications and VIP support for the Eclipse Viewing Event at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. I’m most looking forward to supporting upcoming satellite launches including the Compact Coronagraph on GOES-U and SWFO-L1.

What motivates you?

I thrive on meaningful work, where I can make a positive impact and be a part of something greater than myself. My family, travel, and gratitude are also sources of motivation and inspiration. 

At NOAA in particular, it's motivating to work alongside such intelligent, dedicated, and kind people who are doing meaningful and interesting work. I don’t think I’ve met anyone at NOAA who has a boring job!

What kind of advice would you give people aspiring to pursue a career at NOAA or in your field?

If you’re trying to get into the field of communications, get as much experience as you can. This can include pro bono work for nonprofits and start ups as well as getting involved with associations such as the American Advertising Federation (Ad2 is their 32 and under subgroup) and the Public Relations Society of America. These are great ways to get to know others in the industry, learn and apply new skills, and build your portfolio.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Tell us something about yourself others may not know. 

I enjoy learning languages. I think it’s one of the best ways to dive into a culture or a region. I love delving into music, recipes, and history, even dancing to get more immersed.

Something others may not know is that I was actually introduced to space weather when I was around 6 years old while living in Alaska. I fondly remember standing out in my front yard looking up at the Northern Lights, which I later learned is the most visible manifestation of space weather.