Diversifying BLM Leadership and Subject Matter Expertise: Doris Koivula
Jennifer Jones, Experienced Services Program
Women’s Equality Day is the perfect time to celebrate how the modern-day BLM was made possible by the leadership, expertise, and lifelong commitment to public service of groundbreaking women.
In 1972 the BLM published a "Manpower Report" showing 270 top leadership positions across the Bureau with all but one filled with men. The one exception was a brave, competent, and trailblazing woman by the name of Doris Koivula, the Eastern States Land Office Manager and acting Eastern States Director.
Doris started her career with the U.S. Government in the 1930s, working as a stenographer. By 1962, she had risen to the position of Manager of the Eastern States Land Office. She then went on to serve as Acting Director of the Eastern States Office from 1967 until 1972. Given Doris’ tenure at the Eastern States Land Office, and given that another woman, Helena K. Scholl, held the position of Manager there from 1954–1962, Eastern States established important early precedents for BLM women holding leadership positions. Those precedents helped make possible the diverse workforce of which we catch a glimpse in the included photograph, and which deserves a story in its own right.
The BLM’s Land Offices were abolished as organizational units starting in the 1960s. Nonetheless, in her final position with the Bureau, Doris made good use of the technical and managerial experience that she had gained in the area of mineral rights while working at Eastern States. From 1972 until her retirement in 1980, she worked in Minerals Management—specifically, as Legal Assistant to the Division of Upland Minerals.
The Federal Register records her participation, in this capacity, in Congressional testimony given in 1974 concerning the production of gas and oil on public lands. Ms. Koivula’s extensive technical knowledge of the oil and gas program explains why she appeared alongside George L. Turcott, then Associate Director of the BLM, and Frank A. Edwards, Assistant Direct for Minerals, as a subject matter expert for members of Congress on this occasion.
After her retirement, following a Federal career that spanned some 50 years, Doris remained actively engaged with issues related to the oversight of public lands, serving on the Board of Directors of the Public Lands Foundation when it was created in 1987.