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Passion for giving and hard work—Head aches to make the world a better place

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District
Published Nov. 4, 2014
Melissa Head

Melissa Head

Her days can be hectic, but Melissa Head’s passion for service compels her to work as Assistant District Counsel for the Omaha District by day and as a City Council woman for Council Bluffs, Iowa by night—and any other time she’s needed.
She also serves on the boards of the Council Bluffs YMCA, Preserve Council Bluffs, Mid America Center Arena Commission and as President of Impact CB, among a few other commitments.

The Council Bluffs native graduated from Buena Vista University in Iowa and earned her law degree at Creighton University. “I’ve learned to balance my time well, but sometimes I find myself wishing I had a little more time to get to this meeting or that event,” she said. “Time constraints can sometimes cause a problem.” Both jobs allow her to serve people and work hard, two things for which she has great passion.

“My mother influenced me greatly by serving the community as a volunteer when I was growing up. She was always stepping up to help people – she had a true sense of giving and caring,” said Head, who has been a member of the Iowa Bar Association since 2004.
“My Dad was an engineer who owned his own business, and he taught me what hard work was all about. He was also a great influence on me.”
Serving three civilian tours of duty for the Corps in Kuwait and Iraq profoundly affected her. “When I returned, I had new thoughts about what it was to serve the nation and my community. I realized how lucky I was and wanted to give back something special.”

Her commitment and effectiveness have earned her the respect of co-workers at the Corps and in her Council Bluffs Community.
Omaha District Chief Counsel Richard Totten said “As the sole attorney responsible for legal matters affecting the Real Estate Division, she has earned their respect and appreciation for her prompt and courteous assistance. She has ramped up to help in other areas of the law since we've been down two attorneys for most of the year. Melissa is a dedicated federal employee with a pleasant personality that allows her to help individuals and project development teams in an effective and cooperative manner."
Tom Hanafan, popular Council Bluffs Mayor under whom she served for several years, has much to say about Head. “Melissa is highly respected in the Council Bluffs community. She won handily both times she ran and is known as a community advocate with a passion for making the world a better place to live,” Hanafan said.

“She’s young, highly motivated and her key focus is on bringing improvements to her city and bringing young people back into Council Bluffs. She’s been on missions to foreign countries and always comes back with renewed energy to move forward boldly into the future,” said Hanafan.
When told he was listed as one of Head’s three most important influences, Hanafan replied “That is an honor. She comes from a great family that puts family first. I mentored her when she returned from Kuwait and watched her prepare herself to lead.
“She’s not afraid to ask tough questions of herself and others and she believes she’s going to make things happen for the betterment of Council Bluffs, now and in the future,” said Hanafan. “She keeps her eye to the future and her passion will result in continued success.”
Head lists her strengths as her passion to serve others, her people skills and “I can multitask pretty well,” she laughs. She has areas to work on, however—“I need to learn to say ‘No’ on occasions when I just can’t do something. Also, sometimes when it’s really busy at work and with the Council, I realize I need to slow down just a bit and really stop and listen. It’s important to understand people’s concerns, so I try to avoid rushing so much because I need to hear others.”

In addition to her Corps work duties, she is deeply involved in Corps social events.
"Melissa has been a key volunteer and organizer for our district anniversary events, both the 75th and 80th anniversaries. She helped bring back the annual dinner social as a district tradition. She also led the Office of Counsel when they hosted the 2013 Corps Day Award Ceremony," said Omaha District Executive Officer Tom O’Hara.
"During this last Paint-a-thon effort, Melissa was key in working with the City of Council Bluffs to help the Omaha District team clear out and haul away debris to prepare the 2nd Avenue street house for the Corps painting effort," he added.
Linda Burke, her co-worker in Office of Counsel, says Melissa “always volunteers to help organize the different social functions the district supports for our employees. She has great organizational skills and is willing to help wherever needed.”

Does Melissa’s job experience of 13 years with the Corps help out with her community efforts?
“It does,” she said. “My knowledge of the Missouri River helped the city during the Flood of 2011, and also during other years where we have been concerned with high water. And knowing how the federal government procured goods and services has been beneficial in suggesting ways the city can improve its own processes. My legal background helps me solve problems.”
An avid runner, Melissa has done lots of charity runs. She likes gardening, sewing and attending Creighton sports events and Kansas City Chiefs football games.
To get away from it all she can go to her family’s farm in Nebraska or the family home on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico. She likes concerts, country western music and has participated in mission trips through her church.
And in her spare time…