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Gerald 'Tiki' Tiqui - Finding Voices for Diversity
10.10.12
 
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Through finding speakers, and being one himself, EEO Specialist Gerald "Tiki" Tiqui fire dances his way into sharing his Polynesian culture.


Name: Gerald "Tiki" Tiqui
Title: Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist
Formal Job Classification: EEO Specialist
Organization He Works For: Code 120, Equal Opportunity Programs Office, Office of the Director

What is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?


I love my job! My job focuses on the affirmative employment side, not the complaints side, and has several components. I’m the special emphasis program manager, so I manage the center’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander Program and am the liaison between management and the Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee (APAAC), which includes finding speakers. I also coordinate and manage a science and engineering student intern program for underrepresented populations. On occasion, I also evaluate random contractors for workforce parity.

In the broadest sense, the role of my office is to bring people together. We’re helping people become better team players on the same team both within and outside of an organization. Collaboration not only benefits your organization but it also benefits you personally.
Gerald Photo of Gerald "Tiki" Tiqui. Image courtesy: Gerald Tiqui

A good example is how I got George Takei from Star Trek here as a speaker in 2008. I contacted another agency, the Department of Health and Human Services. We shared expenses and Takei spoke at both agencies to standing room only audiences. Since Takei is Asian-American and gay, I arranged for the APAAC and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Advisory Committee to jointly present him with a certificate of thanks. So many people asked me how I got Takei to come here. Well, I just picked up the phone and asked his representative. The hardest part was finding a date. When I have a speaker, I go out of my way to personally take care of him or her. It is very important to me that the speaker has what he or she needs.

Who is one of the most interesting and inspirational speakers you have brought to Goddard?


In May 2010, I brought in The Hon. Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs. She talked about Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, which is her heritage, and their various contributions. She is a disabled veteran and flew Blackhawk helicopters in Iraq. She was truly inspirational.

Another memorable speaker was Kalpen Modi, the Asian-American actor, who came here in May 2011. His latest move is “A Very Harold and Kumar 3-D Christmas.” He was the associate director for the White House Office of Public Engagement at the time. He also talked about his heritage and the importance of a college education.

Gerald Tiqui poses with a sea turtle. Image courtesy: Gerald Tiqui

What makes Goddard a great place to work?


The location and the gated campus environment full of trees and wildlife. Goddard is full of opportunities for career advancement with lots of resources to help. I came here 22 years ago as an aerospace engineer technician and then, in 2002, changed to my current career. Everything is possible! I also love the diversity of the people here. We have an international atmosphere.

As a recent graduate of Goddard’s Leadership Development and Excellence in Management (LDEM) Program, what is the most important thing that you learned from the program?


Communication and teamwork. For example, everyone participated in a group project and then each person presented a part of the group’s final project to the entire class. My group’s project was retention of our new hires. I spent close to 20 hours working on this team project.

Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, activities outside of work that people do not generally know?


Yes, I am a twin. We are not identical, but we look very similar. I’m the handsome twin! Also, I am a Polynesian fire knife dancer and hula dancer. I’ve been hula dancing since I was nine and fire knife dancing since 1990. In 2005, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service invited me to be their keynote speaker during Asian Pacific-American Heritage Month. I surprised them with some traditional hula dancing. They had never had a keynote speaker who also gave a cultural performance.

Is there someplace in the world that you want to visit, or someplace you have been and want to go back?


My favorite place to visit is Honolulu, Hawaii, to visit my family. I go back every year.

Related Links:

› Outside Goddard: Gerald 'Tiki' Tiqui, All Fired Up
› More Conversations With Goddard
 
 
Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.