April 20, 2017
By Tom Davidson
Shawna Legarza is the National Director of Fire and Aviation Management for the U.S. Forest Service. She has been working in the wildland fire service since 1989 when she started out as a Hotshot crew member in Carson City, NV, and a Hotshot superintendent in Durango, CO. In addition to District and Forest Fire Management Officer leadership positions, Shawna grew up on a cattle ranch and says that’s where she learned to work hard and stick to it, no matter what the challenge. She believes this strong work ethic helped her greatly throughout her fire management career, and when she was rejected for a job at one time for being a woman, she wasn’t fazed. She just kept moving forward until she found someone who would hire her! In fact, Shawna recommends that people keep moving forward with a giving-back mindset, no matter what happens, and she adds in this episode, “I wish more women knew how awesome it is to be a Hotshot.”
[2:45] How did Shawna first get involved in fire fighting?
[4:30] Shawna’s parents had gone bankrupt when she was growing up.
[5:00] What was Shawna’s most fun job?
[7:15] What’s it like to be a member of the fire community?
[10:45] Nobody told you what you’d encounter as a leader, but you constantly have to learn on the job.
[14:55] As a leader, you will always have troubling times, but it’s important not to spread those troubles onto your people.
[17:40] What kind of role models did Shawna have?
[22:15] What’s it like being a woman in a very male-dominated field?
[23:00] When you’re growing up on a ranch, there’s no consideration for gender; you just work!
[27:35] What happened when Shawna was turned down for her first permanent job, just for being a woman?
[33:30] What advice does Shawna have for people entering into this profession?
[40:00] Shawna always analyzes why a good leadership moment went well and vice versa.
[41:30] What can you do to give back to your community?
[44:15] Are leaders born or made?
[46:00] Tom’s Leadership Tip of the Week!
Mentioned in This Episode:
These crews (Hotshots) can really take the heat! https://www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/hotshots/IHC_hist.html
The Heart of a Firefighter
Employment link – https://www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/employment/index.html
Shawna on LinkedIn