Nicole Fernandes: Public servants advancing the public good

April 24, 2024
Advancing the public good: Steady and true


Nicole Fernandes

MPP/MS ’08
Policy analyst for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Years in government: 12

Current work: NOAA provides authoritative data, tools, products, and services to build a more weather-ready and climate-ready nation. My job is to understand the policy, political, environmental, and social landscape across the U.S. and try to take a holistic view of an issue and see it from multiple perspectives. I develop coastal science and management policy recommendations and communication products to advance NOAA’s and the nation’s interests related to climate resilience and ocean policy. These products are used by executive branch leaders and congressional staff to inform policy decision-making. 

One of the most fulfilling efforts I’ve been involved in is developing the past three administrations’ ocean and Great Lakes policy priorities. We are currently implementing the federal government’s Ocean Climate Action Plan and developing a complementary international ocean policy framework called the National Strategy for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. Through both efforts, the federal government is investing in ocean research and ocean resource management to create a carbon-neutral future, accelerating solutions to reduce climate threats, and protecting communities and ecosystems against unavoidable changes while helping them adapt and thrive in our changing climate. 

Supporting the private sector: As a federal agency, NOAA can access data that only the government can collect, such as military-related data. In the case of offshore wind energy and oil and gas development, we need really solid data—about where shipping lanes, endangered species, military activities, and commercial and recreational fishing activities exist, among many other ocean uses—to make informed decisions that don’t disrupt the economy, the environment, and communities and create greater harmony between sectors. 

On presidential transition: There’s always common ground, even if their priorities may be different. I know I can help inform policy understanding and decision-making without letting potential personal political bias bleed into my work."

Nicole Fernandes

Values into action: The federal government represents an amazing opportunity to bring your values into action through service. You can work on virtually any issue you care about and advance it in a way that leverages your analytical skills, lived experience, and professional networks. 

Advancing the public good: Steady and true

More in State & Hill

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