After nine years in the Intellectual Property Office, Heidi Clark joined the ALS two months ago. Keep reading to find out what skills and secret talents she’s brought from previous jobs and just what “ham mode” means.
What path led you to the ALS?
I was the office manager for the Intellectual Property office, and I took care of all the hiring, the building, budgets, meetings—a little bit of everything. They were going through a management change, so I was ready for a fresh start, and this job description seemed like a really good fit. I’ve worked for a software company, I’ve been a licensed stock plan administrator and a licensed optician. But, in my mind, my whole career has been organizing and managing things. My daughter says I “mom everything up.”
Everyone at the ALS is so supportive. I like seeing things from a different take than what I’ve seen before, so it’s been nice, but on the other hand, managing people and organizing things stays the same no matter where you are. I went to the summer picnic and just sat back and watched. It really gave me a great idea of how you guys interacted. Everybody was really interactive, and that was really appealing.
Were you familiar with the ALS and the Lab before?
My dad grew up in Berkeley, so he would hike up to the Lab as a teenager. My godfather did stained glass jewelry on Shattuck, my parents were complete hippies, and we hung out at Tilden. I’m tempted to go up there on my lunch hour to ride the steam trains because it’s just so much fun! I didn’t know any different until I traveled—I thought everywhere was as diverse and open.
There’s a lot going on at the ALS, and we’re really trying to work very hard on structure and support for staff. We’re trying to meet with Photon Science and other groups on what we can do. It’s nice to be able to show people what their administration should be, not just doing a calendar.
What is the story behind the picture of the bison you have on your wall?
My family homesteaded land in Montana back in the early 1920s, so last year, my husband and I took a three-week roadtrip, and we went to Ronan, Montana, this tiny town right below Glacier National Park, where my grandparents are buried.
After that, we spent three days in Yellowstone, and we got stuck by this giant bison herd. They just started coming and they were inches away from our car. They had a bunch of babies in the herd and they do this triangle formation to block the babies in—it was amazing. My car is a little Kia Soul, and it was about the size of some of these bison!
Speaking of your car, what does your license plate mean?
I loved those Kia Soul hamster commercials, so as a Christmas present, my husband got me a personalized license plate that says “ham mode” (HAMMODE). When I have four people in the car, we all raise our hands and go, “HAM MODE! HAM MODE!” before we can go. I love it, it’s easy to read, and everyone knows it, even the security guards.