Norfolk Catholic grad takes over as defense systems chief of staff | News

DISA’s new chief of staff originally wanted to be a dietitian, but is now focusing on shedding excess weight for government deficiencies.

She describes herself as an introvert, but her top priority is connecting with people and helping them achieve results.

Teresa Bates, a 1983 graduate of Norfolk Catholic High School, assumed the position of Chief of Staff of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) on November 8. DISA is the combat support agency of the United States Department of Defense and consists of more than 7,000 military and civilian personnel.

“My parents are amazing,” she said. “They were teachers and they taught us to learn. They always taught, and that gave us a solid foundation.”

Her parents, Evan and Marie Van Dyck, are now retired, teach at Norfolk Public Schools and still live in Norfolk, along with two of her siblings, Lynette (Lyn) Otero and Jeff Van Dyck.

In her freshman year, Bates was working toward a degree in food and nutrition through the ROTC at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, on track for a dietitian job in the Air Force. Her plans and life changed abruptly the day she got a flight in an F-15 to rank her at the top of her class.

“We landed and I went straight to the professor of aviation studies to ask how I could approach operations,” Bates said.

That professor, a former air traffic controller, led her to the ATC program, and her career took off on a new path. Bates, who has no prior military background in her family, was commissioned into the Air Force in 1988, served on active duty until 1993 and immediately joined the reserves. Before retiring from the Air Force in 2013, Bates mobilized twice – during the Kosovo War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Bates discovered early on that she was well suited to the positions of Chief of Staff. She served as Defense Threat Reduction Agency Chief of Staff before joining the DISA team in 2017. Her first assignment with DISA was as Chief of Staff for the White House Communications Agency.

“This was an amazing job, with a great mission and hardworking workers,” said Bates, who was the largest civilian commanding about 900 military and 100 civilians. Besides people and work, Bates said one of her fondest memories was going to a Christmas party at the White House, taking her sister as her date.

Bates then left WHCA and reported to DISA headquarters to be a civilian deputy for the Operations Center before taking on her current role as DISA’s Chief of Staff, a competitive rotation opportunity at DISA. The incumbent usually holds this position for two to three years.

Lieutenant General Robert J. Skinner, Director of DISA and Leader of JFHQ-DODIN, “These positions are essential to the continued growth of our leadership positions.” “Theresa has done an amazing job as a civilian deputy for the Operations Center, and I’m excited to see what she will do for our global workforce in this role.”

“I’m here to do what the director wants, but I’m not just here for the director,” Bates said. “Chief of Staff jobs are great because they relate to everyone else. I am here to enable everyone else to perform their mission with minimal barriers. I believe that administrative and organizational processes and procedures should enable the workforce to succeed, not hinder it.”

The official mission of the Office of Chief of Staff is to apply a strategic focus on people, processes, and policies to enable informed decision-making that supports the agency. This includes improving day-to-day administrative and organizational functions and ensuring effective internal and external communication.

“Theresa brings a wealth of knowledge to this position,” said Roger Greenwell, chief information officer at DISA. “Her past roles as chief of staff in other organizations, along with her knowledge of the agency and our mission, give her a unique perspective in shaping our chief of staff office for the future.”

Bates leads approximately 70 people in the office of the Chief of Staff at DISA, enabling the agency’s efforts through direct support to the Director, Deputy Director, Assistant Director, and special personnel offices.

“With the recent reorganization of DISA and the new Strategic Plan, the Chief of Staff is an important position, now more than ever,” said Sharon Woods, Director of the Hosting and Computer Center. “I look forward to seeing how Ms. Bates champions the agency’s drive toward leading the lines of DISA’s efforts to support war fighters and prioritizing their needs.”

Drawing on more than 30 years of operations and leadership positions, Bates said her approach to achieving process improvements is to make managed risk bold, data-driven, and user-centric. In addition to implementing what the agency director wants, Bates also expects to spend energy on internal communications and involvement in local communities.

Bates’ upbringing in the Midwest set the tone for her hard-working, results-driven life.

“I’m not an extroverted person, but I like to lead and facilitate conversations that bring out the best in others so we can make better decisions and have better products.”

Bates and her four older siblings were raised with God, family, and education as their top priorities. These priorities remain today for Bates.

Bates said she loves her job and feels lucky for the job opportunities that have come to her, but the best things in her life are her husband Al and son Samuel.

“Those two people define who I am,” she said. “Al is a glimpse of me from heaven, and Samuel is the love of my life.”

In her little spare time, Bates said one of her favorite things is experimenting in the kitchen. Preparing a meal and sharing it with loved ones has been a priority since her days as a single mother.

“Every day, I would pick Sami from school and he would do his homework at the kitchen table while I made dinner for us,” she said.

The educational influence of her parents led to her lifelong love of reading, singing and playing instruments, including piano, guitar and banjo. These days, Samuel shares an interest in spiritual readings, and is now a Catholic priest.

Bates has also turned into a sports fan as her grandson plays on a football scholarship as a broad future for the University of Delaware Blue Haines and granddaughter of her husband on a basketball scholarship for the University of Virginia Cavaliers.

Looking ahead, Bates said she is grateful to be in a position to help lead the agency forward.

“This is a really exciting time to be at DISA,” Bates said. “We have a highly skilled, talented and professional global team with unlimited potential to make a real difference in the defense of our country. I am proud to work at DISA.”

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