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Mississippi Valley Division’s R5: Forging ahead for FY21

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi Valley Division
Published Nov. 23, 2020

The week of Oct. 19 – 23 was bustling at Vicksburg District headquarters as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi Valley Division (MVD) and District leaders convened for the annual major subordinate command (MSC) Regional Governance Boards known as R5.

If you aren’t familiar with the R5, the purpose of the meeting is a financial, program, and project review of the previous fiscal year (FY) and an assessment of the upcoming three FYs with a focus on the direction of the organization through the development of Lines of Effort (LoE). 

“For MVD, the R5 is a very important meeting in relation to execution,” said Mrs. Renee Turner, MVD Chief of Civil Works Integration Division. “It allows the regional leaders focused time to discuss best practices and lessons learned in order to strengthen program and project delivery.  In moving forward, we can apply these principles to improve execution and meet commitments."

This year’s meeting, held primarily virtual, looked quite different than previous R5s, because of the pandemic.

“Due to social distancing factors and virtual requirements, this was a unique meeting to execute but the overall consensus was that it still enabled collaboration and interaction to occur so that business could continue as normal as possible within the current circumstances,” said Mr. Cameron Rice, Executive Coordinator for the meetings.

Approximately, 40 senior leaders attended in person in contrast to previous R5s which had upwards of 100 participants.

“I believe that this annual look to see ‘If we did what we said we would do?’ is key to our success in ensuring maximum execution of our program,” said Ms. Joni Nichols, MVD Chief of Business Management Division.

Another facet of R5 that looked quite different this year is the Emerging Leader (EL) professional development and induction and graduation events.  All events were held entirely virtual with all ELs participating via Webex.

Maj. Gen. Diana Holland, MVD Commanding General, spoke to the EL group about her thoughts on communication, diversity, and mentoring.

“Leaders should champion diversity, and every leader should be mentoring,” said Maj. Gen. Holland.  “There are a lot of opportunities throughout the region.”

She detailed her leadership approach and offered advice that anyone could benefit from, “Be true to yourself and be able to accept feedback from others,” said Maj. Gen. Holland. 

Mr. Eddie Belk, MVD Director of Programs, also spoke to the ELs about leadership.

“Thank you for stepping up and choosing to be a leader,” said Belk.  “This program marks the next phase of your leadership journey, a lifelong journey that hopefully brings improvement but never really ends.  As you continue that journey, keep an open mind about taking on additional challenges and growth opportunities outside your comfort zone, whether at District, Division or HQUSACE levels.  Be flexible, nimble, and ready to step up when that opportunity presents itself."

The EL program is a two-year regional program that offers career broadening, leadership opportunities through training, mentoring, job shadowing, developmental assignments, and active involvement in career progression.

Newly inducted FY22 ELs are:

St. Paul District - Brian Alberto and Monique Savage

Rock Island District - Erica Stephens and Brad Houzenga

St. Louis District – Matthew Miller and Jennifer Moehlmann

Memphis District – Joshua Giannini and Camille Monahan

Vicksburg District – James Cumberland, Kristi Hall and Adrian Davis

New Orleans District – Craig Baldwin, Deborah Centola and Amanda Landry

Mississippi Valley Division – Sabrina Dalton and Charlene Mosley

The FY20 Graduate ELs are:

St. Paul District – Andrew Sander

Rock Island District – Justin Carter and Felix Castro

St. Louis District -  Heather Asunskis and Ashley Rasnic

Memphis District – Nikko Aleman

Vicksburg District – Kaswana Moore

New Orleans District – Dan Campos and Kayla Stull

Mississippi Valley Division – Marilyn Sherman and Darryl Carson

Other sessions during R5 included supervisor training and best practices, Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program (DPMAPS), equity and diversity, incentive awards, and updates from division and district leadership.

Dr. Gerry Galloway, PE, (Brigadier General – USA Ret), a former Vicksburg District commander from 1974 – 1977 and civil engineer, public administrator, soldier, educator and geographer, was the keynote speaker.  He talked about water resource challenges and opportunities for the future. Dr. Galloway currently serves as a consultant to several federal and state and nongovernmental agencies on water resources policy development and flood risk management. 

The culminating event for the week consisted of all six district commanders, deputy district engineers, and MVD leadership signing the LoE Placemat, signifying their commitment and solidarity for the new FY’s focus areas.

For FY21, the LoE are:

1.  Sustain and Improve Infrastructure Performance

2.  Build MVD Teams for the Future

3.  Strengthen External Relationships and Sponsor Partnerships

4.  Strengthen Program and Project Delivery

“The Lines of Effort will provide the guiding principles for the region over the next fiscal year which allow us to both be aligned with our higher headquarters and provide Districts the ability to deliver the program effectively at their level,” said Mr. Jim Bodron, MVD Director of Business Directorate.  “These Lines of Effort will continue to be a point of discussion for upcoming governance meetings as many are moving targets requiring vigilance in execution and follow up.“

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi Valley Division provides on-going vital public engineering services at home and abroad during peace and war to strengthen our nation’s security, energize the economy, and reduce risks from disasters.