Category Archives: Special Emphasis Observances

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.

Women’s History Month – Persisting for our Nation

March is Women’s History Month, the time we set aside to honor the many contributions that women have made to our Nation.  The theme of the 2018 Women’s History Month is “NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”

All of you probably know (or maybe are) a woman who has persisted. In the face of discrimination or what seemed to be insurmountable odds, these women have gone on to achieve remarkable things, or simply to open doors that expand opportunities for other women.   Their persistence has helped break down barriers, whether in the Army or as a civilian, in the arts, in science, and in life.

Women have played a role in the defense of our nation since its founding.   Deborah Sampson became the first American woman to serve in combat when she disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Continental Army. “Camp followers,” primarily women who were just outside the   battlefield doing cooking and laundry and tending to the wounded, supported the troops during the Civil War. After the Battle of Bull Run, Clara Barton and Dorethea Dix organized a nursing corps to help care for the wounded soldiers.

Approximately 21,000 women served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War I. The Army established the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942, which was changed to the Women’s Army Corps in 1943. More than 150,000 women served as WACs during World War Two. And “Rosie the Riveter” represented the approximately six million civilian women employed in war material manufacturing during that war.

Today, women make up a majority of the U.S. population at 50.8 percent. They earn almost 60 percent of undergraduate degrees and 60 percent of all master’s degrees. Additionally, they earn 47 percent of all law degrees and 48 percent of all medical degrees.

About 43 percent of the Federal Government is comprised of women.  Serving in the Army’s Total Force is 174,000 of them.  Within USACE, we have approximately 10,000 women employees, representing about 30 percent of our workforce.  The lower percentage for USACE perhaps reflects the STEM nature of our work; women are still not as represented in STEM career fields.

Within USACE, Col. Debra M. Lewis, now retired, was in the first class of women to graduate from West Point in 1980 and later served as commander and district engineer of the Gulf Region Division’s Central District, where she was responsible for engineering and construction management support of deployed forces and Iraqi reconstruction in Baghdad and Al Anbar provinces, Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Margaret W. Burcham became the first woman to be promoted to a general officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jan. 27, 2012, in the Corps’ Washington, D.C. headquarters. In September 2011, Burcham became the first woman selected to command a Corps of Engineers division when she took command of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division located in Cincinnati.  She retired in 2016.

It’s easy to forget that we are only a few generations removed from women obtaining the right to vote in the United States.  Yet with or without women’s suffrage, they have been side by side with men in building and sustaining our Nation. They have persisted.

Thank you, all Southwestern Division women, for what you do every day to support and lead our organization.

Paul E. Owen, P.E.
Brigadier General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Commander, Southwestern Division