Colin Powell, 65th U.S. Secretary of State said, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”
This week, USACE Omaha District hosted the Northwestern Division’s quarterly, Regional Governance Meeting for USACE leaders in the District headquarters, to put that theory into practice.
This quarterly forum for senior leaders, governing boards and command councils is to discuss multiple topics, such as budget and program and project reviews from the previous fiscal year. It also allows for discussions on upcoming regional priorities and solutions for fiscal year 2022’s future hurdles based on the organization’s lines of effort.
Meeting participants included Col. Geoffrey Van Epps, Commander, USACE Northwestern Division; Col. Mark Himes, Commander, Omaha District; Col. Travis Rayfield; Commander, Kansas City District; Col. Michael Helton; Commander, Portland District; Col. Alexander Bullock; Commander, Seattle District; Col. Richard Childers, Commander, Walla Walla District, among other leaders including those who joined virtually.
The event kicked off with a regional update and a safety briefing to ensure that Leaders are in alignment with strategic planning, focus, and overall USACE mission to deliver vital engineering solutions for our Nation’s toughest challenges and reduce disaster risk. Afterwards, District Commanders provided briefs on current and ongoing projects as well fiscal year 2022 mission critical matters such a partnership, diversity, and hiring.
“In terms of workload and work force; what we have to do is align what we can currently do, we must do with, and where we want to be, in order to achieve goals in our program,” said Col. Geoff Van Epps, Commander, USACE Northwestern Division.
“We have to accept the fact that we must make decisions under uncertainty in order to move forward. We do that by acknowledging and managing risks. Let’s lean forward and get comfortable getting uncomfortable,” Van Epps added.
The next day, the team took a barge tour along the Missouri River to discuss navigation as well as the District’s Bank Stabilization and Navigation Program, followed by briefings on the Natural Disaster Recovery Program at Offutt Air Force Base and STRATCOM facilities.
An Army gathering would not be complete without a little physical training. So, on the third day of the meeting, Col. Mark Himes, USACE Omaha District Commander, invited Col. Van Epps and the other District Commanders and leaders; as well as any USACE civilians that wanted to come, to join in a game of ultimate frisbee against the Creighton University Army ROTC Cadets. After the game, Col. Van Epps spoke with the cadets on their future service.
“This is a sincere offer for all of you,” Van Epps said. “We may be an engineering division and engineering district, but we’re enterprise leaders. We are ARMY leaders.”
On the final day of the Regional Governance meeting, Col. Van Epps recognized District team members who provided support and planning to make the event a success by presenting Commander’s coins to Melanie Englert, Tonya Dutra, Brian Mock, David Sobczyk and Maj. Kevin Balentine.
The regional governance meetings are not only for leaders to come to together and solve our nation’s toughest engineering challenges, but it is an opportunity to show people that they are in positions to help and that they care.