Tiffanie Newman: Versatility at FSIS and in Daily Life
By Pat Cuadros, OPACE
Government Information Specialist Tiffanie Newman has been with FSIS for nearly 14 years. She is part of the Freedom of Information Act Staff (FOIAS) within the Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education. Prior to joining FOIAS in 2015, Newman managed administrative work for OPACE’s Congressional and Public Affairs Staff and worked for the Office of the Administrator.
At FOIAS, Newman and her colleagues are responsible for reviewing incoming FOIA requests and providing records to the public, which facilitates government transparency. The FOIAS team also reviews records to determine whether certain information should be protected under any FOIA exemptions. One vital piece of the process is their collaboration with the FSIS program offices that have the requested records.
The government’s responses to FOIA requests typically need to be provided within 20 calendar days of receipt. Newman finds satisfaction in being resourceful to be responsive to the needs of people who send in FOIA requests.
Her supervisor, Deputy Director of FOIAS Sarah Scharf, said, “Tiffanie is personable and works well with our FOIA requesters. She embraces customer service and works to build relationships with her colleagues and our requester community.”
On Career Development
Newman has taken courses in computer information systems and education. Before coming to FSIS, she spent 10 years in the U.S. Department of Commerce on education projects for the Census Bureau for Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. At Commerce, she worked with math statisticians on inserting data for complex formulas. She spent the next 10 years outside the government working in education, marketing and law.
Newman believes that FSIS is a great fit for prospective employees who are interested in public health and are good communicators. Her advice to others is to speak up often and keep an open mind.
“Don’t box yourself in,” she cautions. “Be willing to work in areas that may not be specific to your degree or even your interests. You can grow in that capacity and apply it to the next stage of your career.”
Since the early days of her career, Newman always enjoyed engaging with new employees and hearing where they want to go in the future. She wants to continue that support, especially as the workforce keeps changing. “It’s a big thing for people to take on new jobs. I would love to help people transition or lead some training in that capacity.”
Newman recalled an instance of how she exhibited the FSIS core value of solutions-oriented in the days leading up to the pandemic. “I suggested two ways of improving our FOIA intake process to ensure that we work effectively when we began remote work because of COVID, considering we did not know how long we would be out of the office.
In 2022, Newman was proud to co-lead the first virtual Bring Our Kids to Work Day. She and other organizers understood that offering convenient time frames for employees and their children to attend virtually was important.
Newman was happy with the reaction of FSIS managers at the inaugural event. “It helped them to see other program areas and activities as the pandemic was taking place: having to work and communicate differently.”
Outside of Work
Newman is a member of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, a local and well-known Native American tribe recognized by the state of Maryland. Some Native Americans still live on reservations and are used to traveling by horseback and personal vehicles. When Newman accompanied her clan mother for her first time on a subway train, it made for a memorable day. “Many Native American elders have not been exposed to public transportation,” she explains.
Newman enjoyed singing as a child. In fact, she was selected to represent her elementary school and sing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Her many other talents and interests include writing poetry, cooking, sharing foodie adventures, traveling and doing volunteer work. Wherever she goes, she looks for opportunities to give healthy meals to the homeless. “When one sees a need and has the means to help, then one should help.”
Newman loves spending time with her “amazing” adult sons, Carl and Caleb, and their family dog, Harley, a rottweiler and old English bulldog mix.