News | Sept. 29, 2023

Meet Tech. Sgt. Jorge Lopez, NOC training manager

By Staff

The NRO features members of the workforce in the "People of the NRO" series. Click to read more. 

What is your current role in the NRO and how long have you been in this position?

 I am the training manager for the NOC and I’ve been in this position for about 18 months. My role mainly entails tracking training statuses for the members at the NOC, tracking their certifications and evaluations, and, the biggest thing, is managing “Enter the NOC,” which is our course that was fully developed in-house. The course is designed to introduce new personnel assigned to the NOC how to integrate, synchronize, de-conflict, and assess operations through the NRO Operational Enterprise and its mission partners.

What is a typical day in your role?

It’s the exact opposite of “Groundhog Day,” in that each day is not the same and I actually prefer it that way. A lot of the work I do, aside from managing the training and status tracking, has to do with integration—trying to find the experts to get the details we need for our course development. Most of my work is done away from my desk, including visiting different offices, knocking on people’s doors, and looking for them whenever they miss a meeting.

What led you to an assignment at the NRO?

There was a vague job announcement posted to an intel-related Facebook group that sounded interesting, so I reached out to the POC from the announcement and went through the application process. Working in the intelligence career field for the Air Force at that time, the opportunity to work for the NRO was very exciting. I thought it would be a great opportunity for my career, especially having prior space experience as an All-Source Intelligence Analyst. The job that was posted to Facebook is completely different than what I’m actually doing—I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I’ve come to find my passion in instructing and teaching.

What does National Hispanic Heritage Month mean for you?

I take it as an opportunity to be even more forward with being Hispanic as any proud Puerto Rican would be. I also take it as an opportunity to be more approachable to talk about the nuances of the Hispanic and Latin community and to talk with others about questions regarding the differences. I think it can be intimidating to ask those questions, but I think we, in the Hispanic and Latin community, should be willing to answer those questions. There are differences that might not be obvious. For example, most of us eat rice and beans, but it depends on where you are and how it is flavored.

I am also the lead for National Hispanic Heritage Month’s planning committee. Typically we organize different displays and for this year, we’re working on setting up a flag tour with different stations. The intent is to explain the difference in regards to being Hispanic and being Latin—to explain the cultural and historical differences between the two.

How do you view mentorship, especially for junior enlisted service members?

 I’ve experienced a lack of mentorship throughout my 15 years in the military and that had a profound impact on me. I am going out of my way to see where mentorship may be lacking and trying to provide it. I think it is important that we mentor our juniors, but I think we forget that our seniors also need to be mentored by their subordinates. Prior to being married and having kids, I had a completely different outlook on priorities as a non-commissioned officer without a family. My perspective has completely changed on how to properly mentor others. What I like to tell others in regard to mentorship is to make sure that you’re looking at it holistically and not looking at it from a personal bias—you have to take into consideration who the person you’re mentoring is in order for them to be able to value and use the mentorship you’re providing.

What advice do you have for military members new to the NRO or those who are interested in coming to the NRO?

My best advice is to be open-minded, be available, and be approachable. The NRO is a large organization, and things may not be as clear-cut coming from the Space Force or from a different service. It is important to recognize that working at the NRO is not like a traditional military unit, and it may be pretty far from it, but there are some incredible opportunities and benefits that come with the territory. The last piece of advice is to be teachable.

What do you like to do outside of work?

My preferred activities and hobbies are seasonal and rotate. Right now I’m really into mountain biking, but I’ve also done things such as snowboarding and snorkeling—it depends where I’m at. I find different activities based on where I’m stationed, so I don’t have exactly one hobby that I spend my time doing. I like to do a little bit of everything.

What makes you proud?

I am incredibly proud of my team as they have thrived in a liminal space and we’ve been able to achieve a lot of things. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without the support of my team. I’ve also learned to be proud of myself and to have faith in myself to be able to set a vision for my team in the future.