After 38 years of Federal Government service, Irene Sanchez retired in 2018, from the Department of Treasury, Bureau of Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Upon retiring, Ms. Sanchez received the Albert Gallatin Award for exemplary service. She also received a commendation from the offices of each of the United States Presidents which she served.
Ms. Sanchez began her career with the Federal Government while still in high school. As a student aide, she initially performed a variety of clerical jobs, but because she possessed a strong knowledge of computers, she was asked to teach staff members how to use personal computers to automate administrative tasks. Before long, Ms. Sanchez became a key player in the workforce, and upon turning 18 years of age, the IRS scheduled her to travel to teach computer technology classes to IRS employees nationwide.
While attending college, Ms. Sanchez went on to attend an electronics school where she learned how to build and troubleshoot computer systems. She also became well-versed in building computer network systems. This learning experience enabled her to make an even bigger impact at the IRS. She developed curriculums on building and troubleshooting computers and computer networks. Before long, she was promoted from a clerical position into a permanent technical position.
This was a quite a feat, because during this period men outnumbered women in this particular field, and it was difficult for a female to get hired over a male in this type of technical job. By 1993, Ms. Sanchez had been promoted up to a senior level technical instructor position and earned the title of “coach.” In this position, she was responsible for developing and teaching variety of technical courses, including programming languages and operating systems courses. The organization she worked in was called the National Automation Coaching and Training Center (NACTC). After only two years in this position, Ms. Sanchez was promoted as the permanent manager over the group.
After managing the Coaching Center, Ms. Sanchez took on many other leadership roles, including leading numerous business process re-engineering initiatives and implementing several organizations from the ground up. One of the organizations she implemented was called the National Learning Center, where she provided innovative capabilities for delivering online education for the Treasury Department’s employees. For this initiative, she was nominated for the Malcom Baldridge Award.
Ms. Sanchez was also pivotal to implementing the first enterprise-wide email system at the IRS. Because of its scope, Y2K timeline, and complexity, the Enterprise Email Project was deemed one of the largest project initiatives, impacting every IRS employee throughout the United States as well as employees located at the embassy locations. Ms. Sanchez assembled and led groups of cross-functional teams and set out to involve all customers, field stakeholders and national office partners in the mission. Partnering with vendors and working closely with blended management team of consultants, field stakeholders and IRS customers, she defined the scope and specifics of the effort and delivered the project successfully within budget and prior to the Y2K deadline. For her leadership in executing this deliverable, she received an award, along with a special bonus.
Throughout her career, Ms. Sanchez continued to advance to serve in a multitude of leadership positions. Throughout, she received many honors and awards for her role in leading and executing technological solutions. She also received two Commissioner’s Awards for her leadership in restoring IT operations after major devastations, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Echelon Building Plane Crash Incident that occurred in Austin, Texas. The Commissioner’s Award is the highest award bestowed to an IRS employee.
The last position Ms. Sanchez held in the Federal Government was the position of Senior Executive Serviceman (SES) for Enterprise Network Operations in the Department of Treasury. As Executive Director, Ms. Sanchez had program responsibility for servicing the technology requirements for approximately 120,000 Federal employees across the United States Treasury Department, as well as employees located at various United States Embassies. Ms. Sanchez provided leadership across all key program areas such as: Customer Support, Projects, Budget, Staffing, Asset Management, Engineering, Deskside Support, and Voice, Video, and Data Communications. Her directorate consisted of approximately 1,600 employees geographically dispersed.
In her Executive role, Ms. Sanchez also had responsibility for obtaining funding to support major initiatives and negotiating organizational change with the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). Additionally, Ms. Sanchez represented the agency during grievance and arbitration hearings. Ms. Sanchez also conducted town hall meetings nationwide and served as a keynote speaker at various conferences within the United States as well as in Canada.
Because of her passion for teaching and developing others, Ms. Sanchez coached, mentored, and provided developmental assignments to many rank in file employees and senior level managers so they could gain the experience in executing the competencies required for advancement into leadership positions. Additionally, Ms. Sanchez promoted a program called “Pathways” which enables college students to enter into the Federal government as interns.
Ms. Sanchez received her Executive Leadership certification from the Center of Leadership Development at Gettysburg University. She also obtained a certification from Chapman Law University in the area of Procurement and Contract Management. Additionally, Ms. Sanchez holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from St. Edwards University in Organizational Leadership & Communication and a Master of Arts Degree in Psychology (Education Development). Ms. Sanchez’ hobbies include ballroom dancing, hiking, boxing, and yoga. She also holds a black belt in Taekwondo. Today Ms. Sanchez continues to serve as a mentor and is active in various church ministries and is a volunteer and board member for Community in Motion, which is a nonprofit organization that provides wellness programs such as ballroom dancing for underprivileged youths.