Black History Month Spotlight: Tammy Washington

Tammy Alford Washington is the Deputy Chief of Civil Works Integration Division for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southwestern Division.

The Southwestern Division’s Civil Works Mission area of responsibility encompasses all or part of six states, an expanse that contains about 10 percent of the land area (376,300 square miles) and 11 percent of the total population (34.4 million) of the United States, based on 2010 population data. The division’s civil works program involves planning, design, construction, and operation and maintenance of water resource projects to meet the region’s need for water supply, flood damage reduction, navigation, aquatic ecosystem restoration, hydropower, recreation and other water-related needs.

Washington’s previous position was the Chief of Programs Management Section for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District. She was responsible for three teams of analysts for the Civil Works and Military and Interagency & International Support (M&I) programs.  She managed and engaged in the life-cycle of formulation, defense and execution of funds management for over $95 million for California, Nevada and Arizona.

In her off time she enjoys mentoring high school boys and girls with her community service based sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; topics include college life, career planning, Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (STEM), relationships etc.

Washington, a 15 year USACE team member, shared some of her thoughts on African American/Black History Month, her time in the Army and some advice for the younger generations.

The 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 U.S. military?

A. This is a great way to honor their tremendous sacrifices. African Americans have served in the military during every conflict our Nation has been in. I think it’s important to make sure we recognize their courage, character and personal sacrifices. Many have given their all for a more color-blind America, and their families just the same; let’s recognize and focus on their great dedication to our country.

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. I had a lot of goals growing up, the military offered benefits that put them within reach. I joined the Louisiana Army National Guard in 1988 to help pay for my college degree, but ended up getting so much more out of it. I made bonds that will last a lifetime and gained several job skills that I still use today like discipline, organizational skills, leadership, teamwork and so much more.

Q. Is there someone who inspired you to join the military or served as a mentor?

A. I would say I was inspired by my uncle who retired as a Lt. Col. after 34 years of service in the Army as a physician. I also found out later we share Louisiana State University as an alma mater.

He carried himself with respect and humility rightfully proud of his service to the US Army. Being a Soldier and later a Veteran was more than just a title for him, it’s who he is.

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

A. Set your goals and decide what it’s going to take to get where you want to be. If you can’t get there by your own means you might consider joining the military.

The military can open so many doors and create an unlimited number of opportunities. It may be cliché but you get out what you put into it.

The Army National Guard helped me earn my degree. If you want to be successful in today’s fast paced world you must obtain some higher education and or technical skills. The military is a great way to serve our country while earning a degree or gaining a valuable skill.

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

A. The most memorable experience for me was my time in Afghanistan working for the Engineering & Construction Division and Programs and Project Management Division. I managed over $3 billion in active construction work in Kandahar and Kabul. I had the opportunity to work with so many intelligent and talented engineers, analysts, schedulers, project managers, etc. I was also awarded one of the highest awards in my career, the Superior Civilian Service Award, in 2012 for my service in Afghanistan.

Volunteering to serve overseas with the Corps has definitely been the highlight of my personal career.

About rtownsend