Topeka's Top 20 Under 40: Amber Mertel
Acting Associate Director, VHA Member Services Workforce Management
Department of Veterans Affairs
From leading a team of 24 that schedules for six business lines and 1,200 staff to being selected to serve as part of a team tasked with standardizing the way veterans enroll in health care, Amber can be described as determined, persistent and flexible. She chaired the Workforce Management Governance Committee and co-chaired the VA2K event for Veteran’s Homeless Programs. In 2017, Amber was selected to lead a workstream to develop requirements for the White House VA Hotline, which was an initiative from President Trump’s 10-point plan.
“People will own what they help to create. If you are connected to your team, they will follow and join in to bring your vision to life.”
What advice would you give someone in a new leadership position?
Do not take feedback as negative. Use it as areas to focus on to be more effective.
How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?
Focus on keeping people from putting themselves in the solution box while still in development process. Always have a diverse team, which will lead to healthy debates. Empower and support failure. Sometimes the “easy” button would be to just do the work yourself. However, by doing that, you do not allow others to grow, develop and learn from mistakes.
Who are your heroes?
My mother’s parents helped my mother raise me and were great role models. My grandmother was very organized and detail-oriented, always keeping the house clean and welcoming. My grandfather was a hard-working, dedicated employee who would pride himself in giving his all and completing any task he set out to do.
Lisa Loewen | Editor-in-Chief
Erin Aldridge & Enedina Patch | Compiled Content
Nathan Ham, Nathan Ham Photography | Photographer