Spotlight on Women’s History Month

Erin hugs her dog on a beach

Since 1987, March has been designated as a month to commemorate and honor women’s contributions in American history, culture, and society. This year, we celebrate some of these achievements by recognizing a few notable women in DOI that are making lasting impacts in wildland fire management.

Join us as we recognize each of these influential leaders in blazing a trail towards gender equity.


Erin Horsburgh
Deputy Director, Office of Wildland Fire

“Own your career. Take the initiative to identify and open those windows of opportunity, and if the window you want does not exist – build your own.”

Erin has supported the Department of the Interior for 30 years in various roles in the Bureau of Reclamation, the Office of Aviation Services, and the Interior Business Center. In her current position with the Office of Wildland Fire, Erin oversees national program and operations management for Interior’s wildland fire management program. She was the first woman to serve as Deputy Director at the Office of Aviation Services and is currently the first female Deputy Director of the Office of Wildland Fire and the first female Chair of the interagency Fire Management Board.

How can we better support women? What advice do you wish you had received when you first started?

Don’t be afraid to demonstrate your strengths and capabilities. You are not limited by the position you were hired into, and you must advocate for the roles you believe you can accomplish. There have been many times in my career when I needed to assert myself to prove to others that I can do the job. In one position, without being asked, I drafted a strategic report on a pending project and left it on my supervisor’s chair without my name. He recognized that the report came from me, and the report allowed me to exhibit the strategic thinking skills he was not aware I had. Based on that alone, he subsequently appointed me as the project manager. In other instances, I have taken the initiative to write the Position Description for a role that I wanted and subsequently was selected for the job. If you are interested in something, start doing it on your own until it becomes yours.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Last year, I coordinated a joint career fair in California to consolidate and streamline the hiring process for wildland fire positions. The atmosphere was amazing. Over three days, we saw lines out the door filled with youths, women, veterans, and others who were excited about the opportunities to work in fire. Human resource professionals and Fire Management staff were available on-site to answer questions, review resumes, and help candidates understand the application process. If a resume lacked requisite information, we provided immediate feedback so the candidate could revise and resubmit. I am really passionate about workforce management, and the level of collaboration and interaction at the event was very rewarding. It made recruiting more accessible and human.

What does leadership mean to you?

Helping people be successful. Helping your boss achieve his/her goals, helping your employees identify and carry out their passions, and establishing a sense of community.

Thao Tran is a senior government professional with robust experience overseeing budget, program management, and strategic planning. She previously served as Budget Officer for the Department of the Interior's Office of Wildland Fire and is committed to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Federal government.