Maura Sullivan for Government Executive Magazine

With the recent work that I’ve done photographing WWII veterans, I was extremely excited about having the opportunity to photograph Assistant Secretary Maura Sullivan in her office at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  After the usual hurdle of getting all my equipment through security, I was escorted to Sullivan’s rather large office where I would photograph her.

Before getting started, we talked for a bit about her family’s military history, and it was very clear just how important her job and the responsibilities it entails are to her.  It was a real treat learning about her family and hearing about its military service.  Connecting on such a personal note seemed to really ease her mind as we got started with the portraits, which always helps.  I love when my subjects feel that they can trust and be more natural with me.

Before I left, she reached into a small chest on her desk and held something in her hand.  She then placed the item in my hand while giving a firm handshake.  When she let go, I saw she had given me a challenge coin.  Now I just need to remember to carry it with me so I’m not the one buying a round of drinks when someone slaps their coin down on the bar.

A few days following the photoshoot, I received a handwritten note from Sullivan thanking me for such a relaxed experience and the work that I’ve been doing with veterans.  She’s a woman of great character, and I wish her nothing but the best.

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