Latissa Richardson Operations Manager

A lot of people dream of a career change, but for Latissa Richardson that dream soon became reality.

“I had been going to school for nursing when one night I had this dream where I was wearing a bright red dress, standing in front of a conference room table, giving a presentation. It was at that moment I realized I wanted to begin working towards a degree in business.”

That must have been some dream, I say. But, judging from your resume, it sent you down the right path.

“Oh, it did,” Latissa agrees. “I really love where I am.”

Latissa making her way to a meeting, Georgetown

Latissa making her way to a meeting, Georgetown

Latissa and I are walking down a crowded sidewalk along Georgetown’s M Street. We seem to be swimming upstream in a river of tourists and business people. So what brought you to Mission Essential? I ask over the sound of traffic.

“When I moved to Virginia I was looking for a job, so I went to this job fair,” Latissa replies. “I saw the Mission Essential table and asked, ‘What does this company do?’ When they said, ‘we provide linguists to the government.’ I told them, ‘Well I only speak one language so never mind.’ But they convinced me to apply. I’m glad I did.”

I’d say you’ve come a long way from your role as the front desk receptionist.

Latissa nods. “I knew I was overqualified. But I figured if I got my foot in the door and worked hard, who knew what would happen? And right away I was offered a Deputy Subcontractor Liaison position. Then a year later, I advanced to Operations.”

As she talks, I can’t help but notice how much positive energy she has. After we make our way through the overflow crowd of a restaurant, the conversation turns to her current role at Mission Essential and some of her experiences traveling to Afghanistan.

So do you think the work Mission Essential is doing really matters? I ask.

She gives me a quick glance like I’m out of my mind.

“Yes, it matters,” she says. “We’re helping the U.S. military break down communication barriers. And when you think about it, that’s the difference between a mission being a success or a failure.”

It sounds like you have kind of a unique perspective on this.

“I do,” she nods. “My husband’s a Marine. So yeah, I know firsthand about how important it is to support the warfighter. But I think most of us at Mission Essential do.”

We come to a corner and silently stand shoulder to shoulder with a group of high school students on a tour. When the walk sign appears, I ask her what she likes about working at Mission Essential.

Latissa wearing a headset

“When I moved to Virginia I was looking for a job, so I went to this job fair. I saw the Mission Essential table and asked, ‘What does this company do?’ When they said, ‘we provide linguists to the government.’ I told them, ‘Well I only speak one language so never mind.’ But they convinced me to apply. I’m glad I did.”

Latissa

Latissa smiles. “The war on terrorism and the efforts in Afghanistan will be talked about for years to come. We’re playing a real role in the efforts to enable freedom. Not many people can say they’re with a company that’s helping to shape history.”

So you’re proud of the work you’re doing? I ask. And once again, I get a questioning glance.

“Of course I am,” she says shaking her head. “Really, how could you not be?”

With that, we arrive at the parking garage housing Latissa’s car. So I thank her and say goodbye. And as I watch this former front desk receptionist turned Operations Manager walk away, I can’t help but think this is a someone whose climb up the corporate ladder is just getting started.