Valerie Chiang, Maine DOE School Construction Coordinator is being highlighted this week as the part of a Get to Know the DOE Team campaign! Learn a little more about Valerie in the brief question and answer below.
What are your roles with DOE?
I am a School Construction Coordinator with the Office of School Construction team. My role gives me the opportunity to work with various school departments on improvements to their facilities through a number of programs including the Major Capital School Construction, Revolving Renovations Funds, and when requested, provide assistance to any school departments taking on their own local projects. I assist school departments navigate DOE and other State construction related requirements, review and prepare contracts, review design documents, invoices, and oversee construction activities.
What do you like best about your job?
I really enjoy being a part of the overall process and helping it all come together every step of the way. Since the process takes years, it is a unique blend of patience and excitement – from hearing the thoughts and ideas generated by students, staff, and administrators, to working with the designs developed by architects and engineers and balancing their creativity with fair and equitable solutions, and finally watching it all transform into reality as construction goes on.
How or why did you decide on this career?
I’ve always been fascinated with the technical aspects of how things come together and how things work, with a twist of artistic flair thrown in the mix. Architectural drafting while I was in high school started me down my education and career path. Before I moved to Maine, I was working as an architect in New Jersey designing schools. Eventually, I started looking to move to Maine with dreams of a career change and becoming a forest ranger. (Little known fact – I had volunteered with the National Forest Service while I attended college in Virginia, and got to teach kids while dressed up as Smokey Bear!) When I finally made it to Maine 15 years ago, I stayed involved in construction, working for the Bureau of General Services in an architect position. While I was at BGS, part of my project load included participating in portions of the DOE school projects, reviewing design documents and overseeing construction. When the School Construction Coordinator position opened up where I could join DOE and get even more involved with all aspects of school projects, I jumped at the opportunity!
What do you like to do outside of work for fun?
The biggest reason why I moved to Maine was to live in my favorite playground, instead of just visiting Vacationland. You’ll find me outdoors as much as possible with my husband and 6 huskies – we’re always having fun restoring our apple orchard, hiking, kayaking, camping, snowmobiling, dogsledding…and occasionally building something!