Supervisory Budget Analyst Marcia Newton retired late last year after serving almost 33 years of federal service. To celebrate and recognize her for all she's done, we look back at her life and career.
"I grew up in Indiana -- a few years in Wolcottville, but most years were in Marion," Newton started. "I went to Marion High School and then Marion College (now called Indiana Wesleyan University) in Marion, Indiana."
Newton started her federal service in April of 1988, working as a voucher examiner and lead voucher examiner in Fulda, West Germany.
She went on to work as a medical clerk and industrial hygiene technician in 1990 for the U.S. Army Medical and Dental Activity in Louisiana.
Newton said most of her experience came from her next stop, which was Memphis, Tennessee, in 1994. During her time here, she was a voucher examiner, payroll liaison officer/accounting technician, accountant intern, accountant, and budget analyst.
With all that experience, one can only imagine how many memorable projects she remembers.
One involved Memphis's deployment of the new Corps of Engineers Financial Management System (CEFMS) and the conversion of payroll records to Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) in 1997.
"Resource Management Office employees spent a couple of years before implementation, researching and preparing financial records for conversion, completing training, and then training district staff," she said. "It was exciting being part of such a large project that was phased across USACE over several years. I enjoyed the challenge of researching records, networking with other districts, learning a new system, and then training district timekeepers. My personal goal was to ensure that there were no failures with the new timekeeping and payroll process and that all 525+ Memphis District employees received their paycheck without incident."
Another project she remembers with positivity involved the payroll and funding aspects of disaster responses for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"I had attended several crisis management training sessions and drills in the Memphis District Emergency Operations Center (EOC)," Newton recounted. "We routinely planned for disasters, but especially for ‘a big disaster’. And then in August 2005, Hurricane Katrina impacted New Orleans, only to be followed by Hurricane Rita in the same area."
As the Budget Officer at that time, Newton quickly learned that her team needed a standard work item hierarchy and a mechanism to track funding more easily.
"I also learned that we needed to have a consistent process for each mission," she continued. "It was during Hurricane Katrina that I began developing and establishing funding processes that would benefit us in future events,” she said. “I learned a lot about disaster response from Patsy Fletcher and Steve Barry. Later, as a member of the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) committee, I used those experiences to document processes that assisted MVM in receiving EMAP accreditation."
She had a few memorable experiences, but what led her to become a federal employee?
"My husband joined the Army in 1986 and was stationed in Wildflecken, West Germany, in 1987," she started. "I was 32 at the time. I had already worked for 15 years, mostly in customer service, retail management, and financial management, so I knew that I wanted to get a federal job and continue working."
Shortly after arriving in West Germany, Newton went to the Human Resources (HR) Office on post to submit her resume.
"At that time, we had to handwrite or use a typewriter to complete a hard copy application for federal employment (SF171)," she said. "I completed the form, and then I waited for a call from HR for interviews. The first call that I received for an interview was for a GS-05 Administrative position at the airfield with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fulda West Germany."
She arrived at the airfield and was escorted into an office where an Army officer greeted her.
"He conducted the interview, and at the end, he said something to the effect that he didn't know why I interviewed for this position because I wasn't qualified," she explained. "He made me feel as though I had wasted his time."
Newton left his office feeling humiliated and mad. She went to her car, sat there for a few minutes, and thought about what had happened.
"I began to think that maybe he didn't mean it the way that I received it," she added. "I decided to make something positive out of the situation. At that point, I decided that I was going to become a federal employee, and I was going to be good at it."
That experience became a catalyst for Newton to prove that she could do it. Shortly after, she received another call from HR for an interview with the 22nd Finance Support Unit.
"I did the interview and was selected for the position," she said. "I was new to Army life, so I didn't know anything about Army ranks, regulations, etc. But I believe that things happen for a reason. I believe that was my opportunity to learn about the Army, showcase my skills, and set myself up for other opportunities in the financial management field."
After spending time in Germany, her husband was stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana. Once there, she tried to get back into the financial management field, but wasn't successful.
"It wasn't until my husband got out of the Army and we moved to the Memphis area that I was able to get back into financial management at USACE Memphis District," Newton explained. "It was at the Memphis District that I had the opportunity to complete financial management training courses and advance my career."
The Memphis District was very helpful in getting her set up in the financial management field, but why did she stay?
"My favorite thing about working in the financial management field was the training and career opportunities that I had; specifically, at Memphis District," she answered. "I was able to take several accounting courses to complete education requirements to become an accountant. I also had the opportunity to complete a local intern program in accounting."
During her internship, she did a detail at the Budget Office, which is where she discovered her likening for financial management budgeting.
"Learning budget, in addition to accounting, gave me the chance to see the bigger picture of financial management and how it all interacts," she added.
While learning so much, one has to wonder: who were her mentors?
"There were many people, throughout my career, who guided me, provided advice, and helped me learn," she explained. "I didn't have one mentor that I routinely turned to for advice and guidance until later in my career. In 2010 I deployed to Afghanistan, where I worked for a Resource Manager named Devorah Waesch. Devorah became a very special person to me -- both professionally and personally."
Now that she's retired, she said taking care of her family and spending more time with them would take center stage, among other things now that she'll have more time on her hands.
"Taking care of my family and spending time with them has always been a priority, so I've never really had hobbies," Newton explained. "I used to race walk, but I haven't done it for several years. Maybe I'll get back into walking now that I'm retired."
Newton said she worked in this career field as long as she did due to the strong work ethic she got from her parents.
"They both grew up during the Great Depression. Their families didn't have a lot, and they always worked hard. They set a good example for my siblings and me."
Newton was loved by many, and her retirement ceremony was a testament to that. Newton received the Bronze De Fleury Medal, among other awards, for her honorable service to this nation.
She is missed by many, and the Memphis District is forever grateful for her and everything she's done.
Congratulations again to Mrs. Marcia Newton. And many thanks for her dedicated service to the Memphis District, the Mississippi Valley Division, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and this great nation.