News: Division commander leaves Music City in tune with Nashville District's 'people'
Story by Leon Roberts
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes & Ohio River Division commander visited Music City for the first time this week, and then left more in tune with Nashville District’s “people.”
Col. Margaret W. Burcham, who has been selected for promotion to brigadier general, used the visit as an opportunity to meet employees and gain a first-hand perspective of the operations and projects within the district’s seven-state area.
She met with Nashville District leadership at the district headquarters, Jan. 11. She received extensive briefings, toured the various work sections, met employees, and took time to recognize 15 people for their outstanding duty performance.
“It was a privilege to meet her and to see that she has a keen interest in what we do here in the Nashville District every day,” said Maritere Gonzalez, a secretary in Project Management. “I could see it was important to her to understand our roles in the organization and to recognize the top performers.”
Burcham shook a lot of hands and interacted with as many people as she could to get to know them, but she also used conversation to gauge the important issues and to better understand the district’s civil works mission. She learned and saw a lot. However, what caught her attention most was not the facilities or projects, but the greatest asset in the district.
“The biggest impression I’m walking away with is the people,” Burcham stressed about what she valued most in the Nashville District as she tuned into what they had to say. “What a great crew… I got to go around and shake hands and get a feel for the kind of quality of people, the enthusiasm, the technical background – it was very impressive.”
The colonel said she met with seasoned employees who were very knowledgeable, but especially enjoyed seeing younger workers making an impact in the district.
“I saw people who said ‘I’m the old engineer’ or ‘I’m the old contracting officer,’ which is really neat because we need that experience coupled with those new folks coming in to build a really strong team,” Burcham said.
On Jan. 12, Burcham toured Chickamauga Lock in Chattanooga, Tenn., visited with Tennessee Valley Authority Officials, and then traveled to Center Hill Dam in Lancaster, Tenn., where she received more project briefings on the seepage issues at both Center Hill and Wolf Creek Dams.
She said being on the ground, being able to talk to people, and taking the time to see things with her own eyes will serve her well as she leads the division and works issues at higher levels of the Corps and the federal government.
“I’ve had people pumping me full of information on the complexities of the work that they do, and I’m certainly walking away feeling very confident that the team here in Nashville has things well in hand. Now I’m going to head back to Cincinnati, and along the way I’ll be up at USACE Headquarters, and I’ll be meeting with Congressmen and Senators trying to work the budget, which is the big thing that is coming up. When I’ve been out here and seen the people, heard their challenges in person, and then actually walked the ground, and also met with stakeholders who have impressed upon me what really matters to them, I have a much more personal feeling about what’s going on… so that I can make the right kinds of decisions and set the right policies to support the district.”
Mike Wilson, deputy for Programs and Project Management in the Nashville District, accompanied Burcham during her visit and said the division commander understood she needed to see the projects and people to help her gain a clear understanding of the issues.
“We obviously put the projects that have the biggest focus, the biggest visibility, sometimes the biggest challenges out in front of her, and with that came the folks who are going to make the projects a success,” Wilson said. “And she enjoys hearing that. She loves seeing their energy. She loves seeing what they have contributed to the project and you can tell by just the way she interacts with her folks that that’s very important to her… the people, the employees of the Corps of Engineers.”
Wintery weather kept the colonel from visiting Wolf Creek Dam, which is the largest construction project ongoing in the Nashville District. The division commander plans to return in the near future to see the foundation remediation project, to walk on the work platform, and again see with her own eyes the project and shake hands with the people doing the work in order to fully understand the issues involved with the installation of the barrier wall.