US Army Corps of Engineers
South Pacific Division

District stars shine at USACE Awards

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Published Aug. 15, 2019
Maj. Gen. Anthony Funkhouser, USACE Deputy Commanding General for Military and International Operations, presents Arianna Raymundo, Sacramento District Army/Air Force section chief, with the 2019 USACE Project Manager of the Year Award.

Maj. Gen. Anthony Funkhouser, USACE Deputy Commanding General for Military and International Operations, presents Arianna Raymundo, Sacramento District Army/Air Force section chief, with the 2019 USACE Project Manager of the Year Award.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District environmental planner Brooke Schlenker (left) and civil engineer Larry Nemetz survey the Horseshoe Bend levee.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District environmental planner Brooke Schlenker (left) and civil engineer Larry Nemetz survey the Horseshoe Bend levee on Bethel Island, Calif., Aug. 16, 2011 during a site visit with partner agencies. The Corps is studying how best to strengthen the levee, the weakest point in the levee system surrounding the island. The project falls under the CALFED Levee Stability Program, an effort to quickly fix urgent levee problems in the imperiled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while a longer-term plan for reducing flood risk throughout the Delta is developed. (U.S. Army Photo/Chris Gray-Garcia)

Jerry Fuentes, whose career started at the Sacramento District nearly 30 years ago, was one of only three people in all of USACE to be named a Planning Champion.

Jerry Fuentes, whose career started at the Sacramento District nearly 30 years ago, was one of only three people in all of USACE to be named a Planning Champion, an award for individuals who are instrumental to Civil Works Planning success by providing leadership, encouragement, and support while enabling planning teams to overcome obstacles. (U.S. Army photo by Kevin Vestal)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recognized three Sacramento District employees and a planning team as the best in the business for their extraordinary efforts in Fiscal Year 2018.

Arianna Raymundo, the district’s Army/Air Force section chief, was named USACE Project Manager of the Year for her work in multiple roles. Despite schedule constraints, technical issues, and coordination challenges between agencies, her team successfully delivered Hill Air Force Base’s second F-35 Lightning II maintenance hangar, an F-35 flight simulator and a 35,000 square-foot Fire Crash Rescue Station. Those military construction projects, and many others, improve the capabilities and readiness of the Corps’ Air Force partners at the Utah base.

While those achievements alone are impressive, Raymundo’s broader contributions to the South Pacific Division, the Corps and people in need underscored her commitment to selfless service. During the contest year she served as a subject matter expert for the Hurricane Harvey debris removal mission in Texas, helped manage the debris removal mission following the Northern California Wildfires, and deployed to Afghanistan as a project manager.

Upon receiving the award from Maj. Gen. Anthony Funkhouser, USACE deputy commanding general for Military and International Operations, Raymundo said that working with the Sacramento District team has been a very gratifying experience, and “having the opportunity to deploy and serve with military members was personally rewarding.”

Two district employees and a team were also recently announced as USACE Planning Award recipients.

Jerry Fuentes, whose career started at the Sacramento District nearly 30 years ago, was one of only three people in all of USACE to be named a Planning Champion, an award for individuals who are instrumental to Civil Works Planning success by providing leadership, encouragement, and support while enabling planning teams to overcome obstacles.

Fuentes’ nomination highlighted his professional versatility and ability to successfully “work across organizational boundaries and leverage expertise wherever it may be found,” as evidenced by his leadership of the Charleston, South Carolina Peninsula coastal storm risk management study.

A senior plan formulator and a regional technical specialist, Fuentes said being part of bringing up the next generation of planners in the Corps nationwide has been most gratifying.

“I feel very honored and very humbled to receive this award,” said Fuentes. “My focus has always been on improving planning in the Sacramento District, so the opportunity I was given recently to help develop the curriculum for the Planning Capstone course and work with great planners from around the country obviously provided greater visibility for my efforts.”

Brooke Schlenker was named Planner of Year for her tremendous work on the Sacramento - San Joaquin River Delta Islands and Levees Study and the Yuba River Ecosystem Restoration Study.

Schlenker, who has been part of the Sacramento District for 11 of her 16 years with USACE, was praised for her leadership of the team to overcome several obstacles, resulting in alignment between the State of California and USACE. No small achievement by anyone’s measure.

The awards announcement also stated Schlenker’s efforts on the Yuba study “involved a novel application of our budget policy, providing an ‘unbiased and logical approach to converting area and connectivity factors into a single metric for evaluation.’”

“It’s taken years of hard work to get here, and I’m excited to launch into the design phase and ultimately restore the subsided Big Break area back to historic marsh, which is so scarce in the delta,” said Schlenker.  “It’s been extremely gratifying to be a part of this awesome team and to have led the team to this major milestone.”

Finally, the Planning Team of the Year was awarded to the Santa Clara Pueblo Tribal Partnership Program Watershed Assessment Team, which is shared by the Sacramento and Albuquerque districts.

The inter-district team received the prestigious award for their successful regional planning approach with the Santa Clara (New Mexico) Pueblo. The approach helped them enter into a cost-sharing agreement to waive sovereign immunity with an important partner.

The teams’ collaborative work met the needs of one of the Corps’ tribal partners, while enabling USACE to provide technical assistance supporting post wildfire recovery efforts and improvements to flood risk management for a vulnerable community. Their efforts included extensive hydrologic and hydraulic modeling and plan evaluation and comparison to produce an overall implementation strategy, while working diligently to respect cultural traditions and landscape features while accomplishing their mission.

Headquarters USACE will recognize all awardees at the Planning Community of Practice workshop in Kansas City, Missouri, this November.

(Mike Peterson of the USACE San Francisco Division, and Eric Bush, of the Mississippi Valley and Southwestern Divisions Regional Integration Team contributed to this article.)