Abou-El-Seoud selected as senior economist for USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division

Chicago District
Published Jan. 19, 2021

by Vanessa Villarreal, USACE Chicago District, Public Affairs Office

Dena Abou-El-Seoud, economist in the USACE Chicago District’s Planning Branch, has been selected to become the senior economist at the Great Lakes & Ohio River Division’s (LRD) Planning and Policy Division. With yesterday as her official start day, she will be a virtual employee and Chicago District will continue to be her home base. The Chicago District is one of seven districts under LRD.

“I am excited to serve as the LRD senior economist and advance my contributions to our region and nation,” Abou said. “I feel fortunate to be able to continue to work from the Chicago District office, and see the many people I have enjoyed working with for many years.”

Last year marked her 10th year as an economist with the Corps. She began working for the Chicago District as a summer hire with the Project Management Branch in May 2008. A year later, she transitioned to the Planning Branch as an economist co-op student. In May 2010, upon graduation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she began her full-time career as an economist in the district’s Planning Branch.

She said her interest in economics began when she took an economics class in her junior year of high school.

“I enjoyed learning how economists could develop mathematical relationships to understand how society – individuals, private firms, or governments – makes decisions about how to allocate limited resources,” Abou said. “I always enjoyed both mathematics and writing. Economics gave me an outlet to apply both skills.”

One of her most recent projects include the Upper Ohio Navigation Project Economic Reevaluation Report, signed in February 2020. Here, she was afforded the opportunity to lead and guide the scoping, execution, and review processes for a complex economic analysis. 

“This was a major study effort to update the economic benefits and costs of replacing a series of three locks on the Ohio River - Emsworth, Dashields and Montgomery Locks and Dams,” she said. “This was a major accomplishment by the whole study team.”

“Dena has been a great asset to Chicago District and USACE,” David Handwerk, chief, Economic Formulation Section, said. “She’s a great collaborator with numerous other districts and a creative problem solver.  We will miss her in Planning, but we are happy for her and happy that she will still call Chicago District her home base.”