Mr. Jaime A. Pinkham, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, visited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District from July 7 to 9 to learn more about the District’s programs and operations.
Pinkham was appointed as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works on April 19, 2021 and supervises Department of the Army functions related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program. Previously, Pinkham served as the executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission in Portland, Oregon, and as vice-president of the Bush Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota.
As a citizen of the Nez Perce Tribe and former tribe councilmember, Pinkham also has twenty years of experience in tribal politics, advocating for sovereignty, self-determination and treaty rights.
For him, this appointment brings new challenges and opportunities for learning.
“I come from the Pacific Northwest; most of my experience is with the Snake River. It’s a totally different landscape--socially, politically, economically—so one of the things that was important when I started this job was to deepen my understanding of the Corps of Engineers,” Pinkham said.
To familiarize Pinkham with the District’s mission, Omaha District Commander Col. Mark Himes and District staff prepared three days of tours and briefings across the District’s area of responsibility.
On the first day of his visit, Pinkham met with Col. Himes and John Remus, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management office for the Northwestern Division at Omaha District Headquarters. Col. Himes and Remus introduced Pinkham to the many missions across the 700,000 square-mile district as well as the Corps’ Missouri River operations.
During lunch with Col. Himes and the district Corporate Board, Pinkham shared stories from his career and gave leadership advice.
“A quote from Mr. Pinkham that resonated with me was as follows: ‘We need patience and courage to work with our critics.’ He used that quote as a bridge to the Corps of Engineers’ credo of ‘Essayons’ or ‘Let Us Try,’ said Ted Streckfuss, Deputy District Engineer. “He tied our willingness to work through tough challenges to an appeal to the ‘Let Us Try’ message that guides and directs our everyday attitude and mission with the Corps, and our willingness to listen and work with all of our stakeholders to resolve tough, challenging issues.”
Pinkham then traveled to the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City to meet with staff from the Omaha District, Kansas City District, Northwestern Division and Headquarters. Among the topics discussed were the 2019 Missouri River flooding and emergency response, levee repairs, bank stabilization projects, and the Missouri River Recovery Program.
On the second day of his trip, Pinkham toured the Missouri River by boat then visited the L536 levee project trailer in Rock Port, Missouri. While there, he learned about the progress and challenges of the levee project and had a meet-and-greet with project partners, including the Nature Conservancy and Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
After a tour of the L536 levee, Pinkham toured the L575, L594 set-back, L611-614 and R616-613 levee sites via helicopter.
On the final day of his visit, Pinkham traveled with Col. Himes and District staff to South Dakota to meet with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and discuss the development of the environmental impact statement on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“My desire is that Mr. Pinkham carries away an appreciation for the highly professional and caring staff that live and work in the Omaha District, and a fresh appreciation for the complexity of the missions that this District supports and executes,” said Streckfuss. “I greatly appreciated his willingness to listen and absorb the challenges facing the many groups that surround the Missouri River, and his willingness to engage to help solve some of the challenges we face.”