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Former gymnasts find balance at Hanscom

Tiffany Cote and Chris Lung pose for a photo near the F-86 Sabre static display on Hanscom Air Force Base, July 2. Both siblings are assigned to the same office on base where they hire acquisition professionals, and provide guidance on the federal acquisition process. Cote and Lung remember their father driving them by the F-86 when he was an engineer on base. The siblings have followed their parents footsteps into civil service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy).

Tiffany Cote and Chris Lung pose for a photo near the F-86 Sabre static display on Hanscom Air Force Base, July 2. The siblings are assigned to the same office on base where they hire acquisition professionals, and provide guidance on the federal acquisition process. Cote and Lung remember their father driving them by the F-86 when he was an engineer on base. They have followed their parents footsteps into civil service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy).

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Tiffany Cote hires Hanscom acquisition professionals and her brother, Christopher Lung, helps them develop successful buying strategies.

The pair work in the same office and are at the beginning of what they expect to be the kind of long, fulfilling careers the siblings saw both their parents enjoy as civil servants.

Cote and Lung grew up the son and daughter of a Federal Aviation Administration trainer manager and a career civil engineer. Their father, Victor, retired from Hanscom in 2015 with 34 years of civil service. Five of them were as an engineer with the Air Force. Their mother, Janet, had a 33-year career with the FAA. Today, two out of three of Victor and Janet Lung’s children work in the acquisition functional office, which grows and guides Hanscom’s program executive offices’ workforce.

“We saw, growing up, how a career with the government can enable a family life and support our goals,” said Cote. She remembers her father building his work schedule so he could drive his three children to ballet and gymnastics classes, which began after school and ended after 8:30 p.m. “And now, I have a two-year-old daughter, who was born nine weeks premature. The Air Force supported me during that time, and now she’s healthy and I get to spend time with her and my family.”

Cote spent time in the private sector as a hotel sales manager for an international hotel chain. She draws on that experience to compare the benefits of federal employment with possibly more lucrative opportunities outside Hanscom’s gates. She said she chose federal employment because the health and wellness of her family factor into the bottom-line for the Air Force, rather than strictly quarterly performance. The Air Force’s culture values human performance and recognizes that a healthy home life leads to better work products.  

The duo credit their parents’ dedication and creativity for their personal, professional and athletic achievements. Both siblings were national champion gymnasts as teenagers. Lung was on the U.S. national gymnastics team and won a national youth title on the pommel horse at 17. Cote was an uneven bars champion at 13. Their sister, who was in ballet class while they practiced gymnastics, eventually went on to be a ballerina with the Boston Ballet Company, one of the most competitive in the country. All have lived most of their lives in the Boston area, and say their family is still close.

Coworkers often spot Lung and Cote as relatives. They both sport an easy smile, freckles, and are sharply dressed. The siblings’ offices are feet apart. Their work intertwines, as Cote brings in new talent and Lung helps them excel.

“One of my goals is to make sure the people I work with know all about the education programs and benefits that come with this job,” said Lung. “I’m a beneficiary of college tuition repayment for an undergraduate degree and a full sponsorship of my master’s degree. On top of that, there are day-to-day benefits here at Hanscom, like the gym, which we both use regularly.”

While Hanscom has provided the latitude for a work-life balance, it also challenges them professionally. Lung spent time as a contracting officer on the $7 billion Joint STARS recap acquisition project, which was ultimately canceled, but helped him cut his teeth on a major, Acquisition Category I project. Cote worked on a $5 billion follow-on contract with the MITRE Corp., which distributed contracted technical support throughout the Air Force. Both projects had an outsized impact for junior civilians, and that is one thing the duo want to highlight; work-life balance when employed by the Air Force means employees can sustain both national defense and a fulfilling home life.