Katherine Eberhardt is the Chief of the Firearms Operations Division at ATF Headquarters in Washington D.C. She has been with ATF for 18 years serving as a Special Agent at the Oakland Field Office, Resident Agent in Charge for the San Jose Field Office, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Intelligence Division, and Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division. She has also worked in the intelligence community, serving as ATF’s liaison at FBI – Domestic Terrorism, and the CIA.
Growing up with strong women supporting her, Eberhardt’s family has had a strong and lasting impact. She describes her grandmother, aunts, cousins, and mother as incredible role models; she strongly values the lessons they have taught her and the positive examples they have set. She admires the ways in which they have put their children first, pursued their dreams, and stood up for what is right.
When asked what inspired Eberhardt to join ATF, she recalls her yearning to make a difference, her love of ATF’s significant mission, and the opportunity presented to work with talented people with a shared goal. ATF’s purpose is to combat gun violence and make communities safer, and Eberhardt cannot think of a more rewarding career.
Importance of Diverse Voices in Law Enforcement
Eberhardt believes diversity is an important element for law enforcement to make a positive impact. Having a diverse environment can create a team that views issues from multiple perspectives and analyzes each piece of the puzzle – something especially important for organizations centered on improving safety. Effective law enforcement connects with people, gains trust, and displays commitment to a community. Having voices with diverse backgrounds, thoughts, personalities, and minds is crucial.
Eberhardt thinks out-of-the-box thinking is necessary to innovate and push technology, policy, and programs forward. While creativity can be stifled in environments that instill a fear of failure, having a space where people feel supported, represented, and encouraged can spark fresh ideas.
Reflecting on Women’s History Month
To Eberhardt, Women’s History Month is an important, unique opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments, contributions, and impact of women throughout history. While this month aptly showcases women who have already made the history books, Eberhardt also likes to shine a light on women who might be overlooked – women who share stories of having to overcome obstacles to survive or achieve, despite resistance. These stories inspire Eberhardt to brush off hesitation she may experience and push forward towards new challenges. This month reminds her to continue doing her part to highlight other voices by providing support and mentorship to other women at ATF and in her field of work.
Last year, Eberhardt completed her PhD. She recalls, “My dissertation chair and panel were comprised of women – strong, accomplished, talented, incredible women who pushed me further than I ever imagined I could go. This month should be a motivator to be like those women – to be in the corner for others as much as on center stage.”