Category Archives: Southwestern Division Office Employee Spotlight

Southwestern Division Office

Women’s History Month – Cheryl L. Partee

Cheryl L. Partee is the Chief Financial Officer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division. In this position, she is responsible for the direction and control of financial, manpower, and other resources.  Partee oversees budgeting, finance and accounting, force development, management engineering, and operations research.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Partee, a 36 year federal employee, shared thoughts on her accomplishments, role models, and advice she gives women in the workforce today.

The theme of the 2018 Women’s History Month is “NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.” Women have played vital roles in our Army since the Revolutionary War. Today women are Soldiers, Army civilians, veterans and family members who are critical members of our Army team.

Q. Is there a women in your professional career or life that you would like to highlight for her courage and tenacity in overcoming obstacles and achieving success? Who is/was your female role model and why?

A. Professionally, my role model is Oprah Winfrey because she started from humble beginnings and persevered through great adversity to be one of the most respected women of our generation. Personally, my role model was my grandmother because she was a strong woman as well who suffered many hardships and roadblocks throughout her life but was an astute businesswoman. She also taught me to cook from scratch.

The late Ola Ross, Cheryl Partee’s grandmother and role model.


Q. What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment thus far

A. Raising my daughter to be the beautiful and successful young woman that she is today. Career-wise, it is rising through the civil service ranks from a GS-03 Clerk Typist.

Cheryl Partee and her daughter Tamara Molder.

Q. Has there ever been a time in your career where you felt you were being discriminated against or had roadblocks to overcome? If so, how did you handle it?

A. Luckily for me, I have never felt personal discrimination in my career; although I have seen it firsthand. However, I am encouraged that there is a zero tolerance policy within the Army; it has no place in the workplace environment.

Q. How do you honor and celebrate the struggles and achievements of American women?

A. Through mentorship of young women, attending powerful women events like the Women of Color Global Stem Conference and the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium and just staying aware of the phenomenal things women are doing and achieving in this world.

Cheryl Partee receives the Leadership Through Excellence Award at the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium.

Q. What advice would you give young women entering the workforce about potential discrimination or other roadblocks and how to rise above it?

A. Arm yourself with the appropriate tools to rise above any situation through education, professional certifications, etc. Also seek out a good mentor as well as a champion so that you do not feel isolated in the event any roadblock presents itself.

Q. How has the workforce changed for women since you began your career?

A. Women are now more educated, empowered and serving in top leadership positions. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?

A. We all have to fight the fight in some form or fashion; just make sure you are ready to do your part!

Before accepting her current position, Partee was the Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington D.C., responsible for the headquarters staff operations and policies associated with a $45 billion construction and service enterprise with more than 34,000 employees across the world. Prior to that role, she was the Budget Officer for Southwestern Division in Dallas, responsible for a multi-year/multi-million dollar budget that serviced the Division’s diverse civil and military funding requirements.

She has more than 35 years of civilian service experience in resource and program management and has served in several domestic and international assignments with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Defense Contract Management Agency. Prior to her work with USACE, she was the Senior Budget Analyst with Naval Facilities Engineering Command-Southern Division directly responsible for a multi-faceted facilities engineering budget encompassing several appropriations. Partee also served as financial and cost analysts for the Air Force in the areas of budget and economic analysis. She gained extensive international experience from her time with Defense Contract Management Agency-Pacific. In this role, she led a diverse, multi-functional resource management team of U.S. civilians and foreign nationals geographically dispersed throughout seven different countries.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree magna cum laude from Limestone College, Gaffney, S.C., and earned both a Master of Business Administration and an Executive Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse University.

She is the recipient of the 2010 National Women of Color Award for Professional Achievement in Government. She is a graduate of the Defense Comptrollership Program, the Navy Leadership Program and is a Certified Defense Financial Manager with Acquisition Specialty and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Partee is an active member of several professional organizations:  Army Engineer Association, American Society of Military Comptrollers, Society of American Military Engineers, Association of Syracuse Defense Comptrollers, National Black MBA Association and the National Defense Industrial Association.

SWD Black History Month Spotlight: Vidal Gray

Vidal Gray is the Equal Employment Opportunity Strategic Advisor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southwestern Division Office of Diversity and Leadership.

The Office of Diversity and Leadership provides oversight, leadership, and policy guidance for development of a Model EEO Program at four District offices located at Fort Worth and Galveston, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Little Rock, Arkansas. The Office of Diversity and Leadership works proactively to enhance the employment of women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities to reflect the rich diversity of the Nation and provides a full and fair opportunity for all employees, applicants and customers regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, or genetic information.

Gray’s previous position was the Chief of EEO for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. He was responsible for overseeing the district’s EEO Program.

Outside of work Gray enjoys spending time with his son, playing Texas Hold ‘em, and traveling. Last year he traveled to New Orleans, Las Vegas and the Bahamas. He hopes to go to Puerto Vallarta in 2018.

Gray, a four year USACE team member shared some of his thoughts on African American/Black History Month, his career, the military and more.

The African American Black History Month theme this year is “African Americans in Times of War.”

Q. What are your thoughts on this year’s Black History Month theme and the immeasurable impact African Americans have had on the history of the United States?

A. I think about how African American Soldiers have a long distinguished history in the United States military. I simply couldn’t be any prouder. This is a great way to honor our long storied involvement in the U.S. Military.

Q. Having served in the Army you’re part of that distinguished history. Can you talk about your service and how it helped shape who and where you are now?

A. The Army helped solidify my values and guide the way that I carry myself in every situation. I instinctively inherited values from my family but I didn’t realize how important they were until I joined the Army. Beginning the first day of basic training, the Army teaches you how live the seven Army Values. Those values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. I’ve been out of the Army for several years now but still apply those values to my daily life as well as work to instill them in my son.

Q. Is there someone who inspired you to join the military or that you would call a mentor?

A. My brother convinced me to join the Army. He said let’s just sign up for two years of Active Duty and see what happens. I ended up serving for 22 years. My brother is still in the Army.

Q. What advice would you share with teenagers considering joining the military or civil service?

A. The military is a great opportunity to develop and explore. Things like pay and medical coverage are the tangible benefits you’ll receive, but I’m here to tell you the friendships and bonds you’ll make in the military will far exceed your expectations.
Keep an open mind, every situation isn’t perfect, but don’t quit.

Q. What has been your most memorable experience in the military or federal government that you’d like to highlight?

A. That’s tough for me to answer. I’ve been an extreme extrovert my whole life. I go full speed into every new situation expecting it to be the best. I feel like I’ve turned every assignment and situation into a memorable learning experience.

If I had to pick one shining moment it would be my selection for Special Operations Aviation Command because of how challenging the qualification assessment was.