WASHINGTON, D.C. — A gallery honoring the Distinguished Civilian Employees of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stands outside the Executive Suite in Headquarters. Among the dozens of photos, only two were women -- Dixie McCrary placed in 1955 and Winnie Cox in 1957. But on June 14, Kristine Allaman became the newest Distinguished Civilian Employee. She is the first female engineer, and only the third woman to have her photo placed on the wall.
Allaman was formlly inducted into the Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees in a ceremony in the auditorium of the Government Accountability Office Building. Afterwards, Allaman and Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, USACE commanding general, hung her photo on the wall during the 10th Annual Engineer Regimental Muster Ceremony.
“I was completely surprised and thrilled with this selection,” Allaman said. “It is such a great honor to begin with, and then to know that people remember you is even more wonderful. One of my strengths is strategic thinking, so it’s especially gratifying to know my efforts have left a legacy for others to follow, just as I followed in the footsteps of earlier leaders and mentors in USACE.”
Allaman retired June 3, 2008, after a 31-year career in civil service, 23 of those years with USACE. She was a member of the Senior Executive Service. SES members are equal in pay and responsibilities to military general officers.
Distinguished Civilian Employees are USACE retirees who had exemplary federal careers. According to Col. Dan Anninos, chief of staff, to be selected a person must have served at least five years at USACE Headquarters working for the commanding general, accomplished assigned duties in an outstanding manner, developed methods and procedures that produced extraordinary benefits, and contributed substantially to the reputation and honor of USACE.
Among her many accomplishments, in 1992 Allaman was selected as the chief of the Engineering Division in Walla Walla District, becoming the first woman to lead a district engineering division. In 1995, she made history again when she became the Corps’ first female engineer appointed to the SES as the director of Engineering and Technical Services in Missouri River Division.
In 2000 at USACE Headquarters, Allaman co-led initial efforts to develop the Readiness XXI plan that integrated the Corps’ military and domestic emergency response capabilities. At retirement, she was Director of Installation Management, and Director of the Strategic Integration Directorate.
“Her most significant legacy will be the people that she mentored in USACE and in the field of engineering and strategic planning,” said Bostick during the ceremony. “She was the champion for fully developing individual employees and technical competencies needed for USACE to deliver effective, innovative solutions for the nation on engineering challenges. She maintained a long-term focus on motivating the Corps and its people to become a learning organization created by learning individuals.”
“I consider many of my physical accomplishments to have been of value,” Allaman said in her speech. “Managing and creating facilities and organizations to support our great Soldiers and airmen and their families; protecting people from flooding and helping in emergencies; improving prospects for endangered species; developing strategies to effectively deal with fast-paced change.
“However, my single most important accomplishment is to have encouraged people to understand themselves, their strengths, and develop these to fulfill their goals and be the best they can be,” Allaman added. “The strength of the Corps is in its people and how they work together to accomplish much more than any one of us could do alone. That is the best legacy that I or any leader can leave.”
Allaman downplays the “third woman” issue, but she is well aware of it. Her first reaction was, “It's about time! In retrospect, women came into their own in the workforce following World War II, so that may have something to do with those selected in the 1950s. Those women led the way for the women’s movement of the 1960s and beyond, leading to today when we have many women in the workforce who are talented, smart, educated and contributing greatly to the success of our mission. It's beneficial to our nation to use all of the talent of our population to contribute to the national good.”
Allaman also doesn’t think it will take long for the fourth woman to be added to the Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees. “There are now more women in leadership positions, so I believe we will have more women in the gallery, and it will happen before another 55 years pass!”
Since retirement Allaman has spent a lot of time with her family, “which I could not do much while I was working.” She moved to Arizona to be near her father, who is in his 90s. She is also a full-time caregiver for her husband.
“For creative interests, I’ve been redesigning and remodeling the old house we bought, taken some on-line courses, and do a bit of gardening, which is a challenge in the desert,” Allaman said. “I also like to cook and try out new recipes, so I’m learning about foods and dishes here in the Southwest.”