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Spotlight on Commerce: Andrew Fiddes, Attorney Advisor, Disaster Recovery Program, Office of Chief Counsel, U.S. Economic Development Administration

Guest blog post by Andrew Fiddes, Attorney Advisor, Disaster Recovery Program, Office of Chief Counsel, U.S. Economic Development Administration

Caption below
Andrew Fiddes (foreground) serving at Incident Command Post San Juan in the immediate aftermath of the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria, is seen coordinating the initiation of the inflow of relief supplies in coordination with FEMA and Army/Navy elements.

I am an Attorney-Advisor in the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Office of Chief Counsel, where I support the Disaster Recovery Program, including EDA’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Recovery Assistance. My work includes pre-award review of grants for legal sufficiency and resolving legal issues in post-award implementation and monitoring. Though I have worked with offices throughout EDA, I primarily support EDA’s Austin and Philadelphia Regional Offices.

I was drawn to this position because I wanted to pursue a career in public service, and I found EDA’s mission of assisting the country’s most economically distressed communities to be both compelling and rewarding. I also enjoy the role because it allows me to use a wide range of legal skills and EDA’s extensive projects portfolio keeps the work interesting.

In addition to my job at EDA, I currently serve as Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and am an Operations Officer assigned to U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In that role, I support the Combatant Command’s homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities’ responsibilities domestically and in coordination with partner nations.

I was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in California and Florida. My previous duty stations include service as the Waterside Security Division Officer for Port Security Unit 307 in Clearwater, Florida; Human Capital Management Project Chief at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.; and as Prevention Department Branch Chief Onboard Marine Safety Unit Savannah in Savannah, Georgia. I earned JD, MBA, and BA degrees from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

For me, the ability to serve the Republic as both a uniformed and civilian member is the embodiment of ‘service before self.’

In these dual roles, I respond both to the immediate threat or natural disaster to our country and follow up by supporting the important work of the EDA in achieving long-term economic recovery and resiliency. This allows me the unique privilege of working on both sides of an incident with diverse groups of women and men who seek to make our nation strong and prosperous.

The work I have done in these roles is the ultimate reward which has allowed me to help support operations that save and protect lives and then, when out of uniform, return communities to economic prosperity through critical investments.

Service in the Federal government is a unique privilege and, for those who seek a similar path, I recommend that they keep all doors open and understand that all opportunities of service are equally important. Each is critical to this Nation’s success and each is a unique path that is both challenging and exciting.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce Military Veterans in honor of Veterans Day.

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