Mississippi Valley Division hosts awards day ceremony

Published 10:26 am Thursday, November 9, 2023

The Mississippi Valley Division (MVD), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), held its annual Corps of Engineers Awards Day ceremony on Nov. 6, where the following awards were

The Ernest P. Blankenship awards are among the highest honorary awards presented to MVD employees by the division commanding general, Brig. Gen. Kimberly A. Peeples.

The awards cover three categories: engineer/scientist, professional and technical/administrative.

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Established in 1987, they honor the commitment, dedication, and knowledge of the long-time MVD executive assistant who died in 1973.

The 2023 Ernest P. Blankenship Engineer/Scientist Award was presented to Philip S. LaBarre, a senior cost engineer in the engineering and construction division. LaBarre was awarded for his exceptional work in creating portals and dashboards. His impact extends beyond cost engineering to other disciplines within Engineering and Construction (E and C), significantly boosting cross-disciplinary collaboration. LaBarre’s dedication and innovation have revolutionized operations bringing credit to himself, the Mississippi Valley Division, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Nation, according to a release from MVD.

The 2023 Ernest P. Blankenship Technical/Administrative Award was presented to Wendi Whitehead, executive secretary to the watershed division. Whitehead’s forward-thinking, eagerness for new challenges, technical competency, knowledge of USACE processes and willingness to support and mentor others throughout the Division have left a strong impact on her
co-workers, an MVD release read. The release also said she has continually gone above and beyond the call of duty to meet the needs of her department, the Regional Business Directorate and the entire Mississippi Valley Division Headquarters. In addition to her outstanding technical contributions, Whitehead said her greatest accomplishment is her pride and ownership of being a great team member.

The 2023 Ernest P. Blankenship Professional Award was presented to Tim Savidge, assistant division counsel for the Mississippi Valley Division. Known for his ability to dialogue effectively, identify issues and problems, build consensus and promote teamwork, Savidge ensured that all MVD and national deadlines were timely met. Savidge served as a force multiplier for the MVD Office of Counsel, often switching between roles as the mission required, according to an MVD release.

The Distinguished Civilian Employee Award was awarded to Patti Stephenson Beard, former MVD Executive Secretary. Beard spent her entire 32-year career in the Federal Government as a secretary at the Mississippi River Commission/Mississippi Valley Division headquarters. She was first hired in the Urban Studies Planning Division in 1981. In 1990, the MVD Executive assistant brought Beard into the executive office to serve as the executive secretary to the Deputy Commander. In 1995, MG Bob Flowers selected Beard as the executive secretary to the Commanding General, a position she held until her retirement in 2013.

MVD’s 2021 Commander’s Award for Woman of the Year was presented to Mary Edie Whittington, Mississippi River Commission, Executive Officer, Executive Office. Whittington’s exemplary performance, calming presence, boundless determination, and professional attitude during a tumultuous period involving three military officer transitions and the onboarding of three new executive office staff contributed significantly to the successful accomplishment of the Division’s mission.

MVD’s 2023 Commander’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Equal Employment Opportunity was presented to Deanna Prestwood, Civil Works Integration Division Chief. For exceptional accomplishments and vision in employing and developing minority and women employees in new lines of work from August 2022 to August 2023. Through her leadership and personal efforts, opportunities were presented for promotion, development, growth, and improvement in job skills and abilities. Ms. Prestwood’s contributions to the Mississippi Valley Division (MVD) and the Equal Employment Opportunity program have resulted in a level of productivity that not only ensured the continuation of the MVD program, but greatly enhanced mission accomplishment and brought distinct credit to herself, the Mississippi Valley Division, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Kyle B. Davis was recognized for 10 years of federal service and Nedra F. Emond was recognized for 15 years of federal service. Both serve as assistant district counsel at MVD headquarters.