From Toys for Tots to BLM Arizona, Steven Ala shines on National Administrative Professionals Day

For a version of this video with audio descriptions, visit:

In the cool winter months during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, stacks of toys piled up in a warehouse in New Orleans.

Nearly 60,000 items, from books to bikes, were collected, benefitting the city’s less fortunate families and children. Thanks to the hard work and passion of Steven Ala, a U.S. Marine Corps service member who managed the warehouse during the 2020-2021 season, the holidays were a little bit brighter.

Including New Orleans, his military service took him to both coasts of the United States and as far away as Japan and Korea.

“Transitioning military service specifically, I still live by those core values of honor, courage and commitment,” Steven said.

After six years in the Marine Corps, these values guide the work he does as staff assistant for the Bureau of Land Management Arizona’s Division of Resources and Planning.

“All the things that you would want in a leader you are getting when you hire veterans,” Steven said.

In his staff assistant role, Steven supports the various programs of the division, from recreation to archaeology to the Wild Horse and Burro program, with permitting, correspondence, and more.

“It's often like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get,” Steven said about the range of work he does.

Before Steven came to work for the BLM, he was unfamiliar with the agency as a New Englander, and he visited his first national park when he was a Marine attending school in California.

“I just had a feeling of calmness and serenity, and I've made it my mission essentially to go to as many of our public lands as possible,” he said. “I'm a huge advocate for sharing the opportunities and experiences that we have, connecting with our public lands.”

Beyond his division, Steven is also the Hispanic and Latino Special Emphasis Program Manager for BLM Arizona, supporting this community in connecting with public lands, feeling supported as land management employees, and more.

Steven Ala in a military uniform.
Steven Ala served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years. (Photo courtesy of Steven Ala)

“Although Steve was new to federal civilian service,” said Jim Gipson, BLM Arizona Equal Employment Opportunity Manager, “he quickly figured out the important role that Special Emphasis Program Managers can play in helping management build a more racially and ethnically diverse workforce and supporting workplaces where all feel welcomed and included.”

“Inclusion is incredibly important for us because it helps create a stronger workforce. Diversity is something that binds us together, not only vertically, but horizontally as well,” Steven said. “It is incredibly important for our workforce to reflect our nation and us as public servants need to be conscious that we are a direct reflection of the nation. So having different backgrounds, learning from each other, all those things create a stronger environment and a stronger team so we can achieve the mission.”

In this Special Emphasis Program Manager role, Steven helps build and sustain a work environment where every employee feels respected, valued, included and safe.

“A lot of people are doing a lot of great work, and I would love for the public to be more aware of that,” Steven said.

Michelle Ailport, Public Affairs Specialist

Blog Topic: