WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Margaret Jones, a program manager with the Transatlantic Division’s Afghanistan District, received a U.S. Army Technology Leader award during a ceremony at the 2020 Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) STEM Conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 14.
“This award is more like a lifetime achievement, spanning my entire career,” said Jones. “I really have to give credit to [my colleague] Elaine Lawson. She encouraged me to submit a package – really believed I deserved recognition – so we worked together on it. She did a lot of the yeoman’s work, editing and correcting things. Then, we submitted the package and I deployed to Afghanistan.”
In December 2019, Jones received a notification from the Afghanistan District’s commander that she had been selected for the award, and they were sending her to the conference to receive it in person. On Feb. 14, she did just that. Marshall M. Williams, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, presented the award.
“My focus and purpose in life has been to build people up,” said Jones. “It’s good to know within yourself that you’re helping people and your organization succeed, but when you are recognized by your peers, and even those outside of your peer group, it reinforces that you’re doing the right thing.”
The day before the award presentation, Jones had the opportunity to speak to a large group at USACE headquarters as part of their Engineer Week events, and took advantage of the opportunity to give back to others.
“About 20 years ago, I attended a USACE workshop that was in conjunction with the BEYA conference and there was a woman on the panel who talked about all she had accomplished,” said Jones. “Being a single mother of four, I knew it would be difficult, but it inspired me and made me want to be in that place one day. Fast forward and now I’ve been able to do that. I really wanted to give back and be an inspiration to other young folks sitting out there yesterday; help them reach beyond what they believe their limits are.”
The title of Jones’ speech was “Be the Change” and consisted of three main components: personify what right looks like, always strive for excellence, and give others the credit.
“For me, those elements encompass what it means to ‘be the change.’”
Jones currently manages the operations and maintenance program for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan. The program oversees maintenance at facilities in support of the Afghan military and police. Before deploying, she had worked at both the Middle East District and Transatlantic Division for approximately 15 years.