Q3 FY22 Awards Ceremony Recognizes District’s Best > Galveston District > News Stories
The ceremony recognized employees for their significant individual and group accomplishments and announced the winners of the district’s Corps Day Awards.
Williams and Vail opened the awards ceremony by welcoming Southwest Division Commander Col. Kenneth Reed, who was in the audience making his first official visit to the Galveston District.
Vail presented his Command Coin to several district employees for their outstanding performance in the third quarter. Honoring someone with a Commander’s Token is an instant way for military commanders to show their appreciation for a phenomenal job. More than just a “thank you” or a pat on the back, a commander’s coin is something tangible to remember the occasion.
Vail recognized the following employees with his coin:
- Jo Ann McCue, a Contracts Department Contract Specialist, for her efforts in managing multiple contracts across the district.
- James Purcell, Assistant District Counsel, for his work in preparing the district for Hurricane Harvey litigation in the US Court of Federal Claims.
- Corpus Christi Resident Office Engineer Paul Rodriguez for his service in solving an inadequate US Customs and Border Protection facility.
- Scott Leimer, director of SWG’s construction management division, on the management of several major construction projects throughout the district.
The district commander then addressed some greetings to three staff members who have caused a stir in their respective offices:
- Rick Elizondo of the Corpus Christi Resident Office for his mentoring and expertise in administering the Corpus Christi Ship Channel CIP 2 contract.
- Joshua Mahon of the Contracting Division for taking on several key contracting activities and awarding the $13 million hydrographic mapping and surveying contract.
- Amanda Crawford of the Resource Management Division for assisting the entire district with the evaluation and planning process, assisting employees with their time and attendance entries, travel orders, travel vouchers, training courses and ordering supplies.
At the venue, Vail then presented two cash awards—both $500—to SWG Public Affairs Office members Francisco “Paco” Hamm and Carlos Gomez. Both were recognized for their efforts in managing multiple internal and external communication channels and educating the public about several important high-visibility SWG projects along the Texas coast.
The SWG Regulatory Division then honored its members with their own special recognition. The Regulatory Peer Awards were created by the staff of the department for the staff to allow the regulatory team to recognize the efforts of their peers.
This year’s Regulatory Team Award went to Brad Dawe for exemplifying the essence of teamwork. Dawe was quoted as “always thinking of others and doing whatever it takes to contribute to the regulatory mission”.
The winner of the Regulatory Marie C. Pattillo Custer Service Award was Andria Davis. Davis was recognized for her professional courtesy and willingness to participate in anything that conveyed the Regulatory Program’s mission.
Marie Taylor was named “Regulator of the Year” in 2022. Taylor’s leadership and communication skills were recognized by her department and described as “an asset to the Galveston District and the US Army Corps of Engineers.”
Vail and Williams then presented a certificate of achievement to a group of Contracting Division employees: Bernice Taylor; Arnette Rose; and Bryan Williams. The group received special recognition for completing the cost-sharing control protocol for the Corpus Christi-LaQuinta Expansion Ship Canal feasibility study. The efforts of Taylor, Rose and Williams were instrumental in implementing a solution to a USACE-wide problem in the contracting process.
Several personnel were subsequently awarded the Army Civilian Service Achievement Medal:
- Kecha Bray-Coleman was recognized for her achievement as a civil engineering technician in the Border Infrastructure Resident Office’s Rio Grande Valley program.
- Pablo Hernandez was recognized for his efforts as the Border Infrastructure Resident Office’s Rio Grande Valley Program area engineer.
- Robert “Niles” Hooper, Nick Laskowksi, Jon Loxley and Rick Villagomez were recognized for their contributions to the Gulf Coast Protection District partnership, which culminated in the signing of the Orange County Project Partnership Agreement on April 29, 2022.
- Tasha Metz was recognized for her performance as a member of the aquaculture reinforcement team and for coordinating with federal, state and tribal partners on controversial shellfish permitting actions.
Three other members of the Galveston District were subsequently awarded the Army Civilian Service Commendation Medal.
- Alberto Hinojosa and Ramon Navarro were recognized for their performance as Supervising Engineers for the Border Infrastructure Resident Office Rio Grande Valley program.
- Michael Roberts was recognized for his work as a civil engineer for the Border Infrastructure Resident Office Rio Grande Valley program.
The nominees for the 2022 SWG Corps Day Awards were announced after the Service Medals ceremony. Although the district’s Corps Day celebrations had to be postponed, Vail and Williams insisted on publicly recognizing SWG’s outstanding employees.
dr Patrick Kerr, Head of Coastal Engineering at SWG, received this year’s Supervisor of the Year award.
“Patrick is an excellent manager and leader,” Vail said, noting the heavy responsibility Kerr’s department oversees given the district’s recent coastal projects. “It’s not an easy task, and he does it all with great humility and dedication.”
dr Shahidul Islam was named Galveston District’s “Innovator of the Year.” Islam’s work in preparing a technical plan to assist the Texas General Land Office in a regional flood planning study — an investment of $85 million — has been called a “major improvement” in the state’s efforts to mitigate flood planning.
“To me, this award is very important,” Williams said of the district’s highest honors for innovators. “The engineers and supervisors will make sure we get the job done, but the innovators are the ones who will move us forward in the future.”
Jesus Galindo won the STEM Volunteer of the Year award. Galindo is heavily involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities in his community, particularly in the Faculty of Civil Engineering at Lamar University. His connections with students have been cited as an example of STEM careers and service to others.
“This will undoubtedly generate increased interest in future careers with the US Army Corps of Engineers,” Vail said, while gently reminding Galindo what to do when he goes back to Lamar University.
dr Himangshu Das was recognized as the district’s Engineer of the Year. This led the technical effort behind the Coastal Texas Study, the largest study in USACE history.
“HD – as we call him – is undoubtedly our coastal engineering expert here in Galveston,” said Vail. “I can’t tell you how often I receive inquiries from across the company and from the private sector asking for his services. That’s the kind of level that HD is at.”
Ron Wooten was named Galveston District’s 2022 Employee of the Year. Wooten’s efforts as an outreach specialist have been recognized within the district, at Southwest Division headquarters, with various non-federal partners, members of Congress and outside agencies. His positive and courteous demeanor, responsiveness, and attentiveness to all offices throughout the district were instrumental in his nomination, according to the award.
“Just to give you an idea of who Ron is, he just apologized to everyone on this stage for winning the award,” Williams said to laughter and applause from the crowd in attendance.
Vail also recognized the district’s “Heroes of the Week” for the quarter:
- Ryan Schwartzengraber, for the week of April 1st.
- Carlos Gomez, for the week of April 15th.
- Pat Agee, for the week of April 29th.
- Pamela Thibodeaux, for the week of May 13th.
- Philip Hejduk, for the week of May 27th.
- Michael Higgs, for the week of Oct.
The awards ceremony was followed by a town hall meeting at which Reed formally introduced himself to the district and shared his leadership philosophy and expectations as the new division commander. [To read about the townhall, click here.]