Jacksonville District team members employ the Golden Rule

Published April 1, 2014

Treat people as they should be treated. In the Soldier’s Code, we pledge to “treat others with dignity and respect while expecting others to do the same.” Respect is what allows us to appreciate the best in other people. Respect is trusting that all people have done their jobs and fulfilled their duty. And self-respect is a vital ingre­dient with the Army value of respect, which results from knowing you have put forth your best effort. The Army is one team and each of us has something to contribute. – U.S. Army website, www.army.mil/values/.  

Inside the South Florida Operations Office (SFOO) in Clewiston, Chester “Wayne” Sullivan has earned respect as a civil technician, but he is also greatly admired for his smooth and easy-going manner in communicating with others.

“I have routinely witnessed Wayne in chaotic or challenging events, and he always holds fellow employees or members of the public with the highest regard,” said Tim Murphy, deputy chief, Operations Division. “He’s simply a very honest, down-to-earth employee who always gets excellent results.”

Sullivan, a veteran of 13 years in the oftentimes exciting SFOO, says he believes “the first and most important part of respect in the workplace is to listen to the people around you, and keep an open mind while you are listening.”

Listening, patience and keeping an open mind is difficult for some, especially when “fight or flight” adrenalin kicks-in. “I think that respect is something that is taught to a person from the time they are born. If a person grows up around people that are willing to listen and help them, respect comes naturally; it isn't something that you learn overnight,” Sullivan said.

He said there are several people that he respects in the SFOO, but at the top of his list is Julie Coco Evans, SFOO budget analyst. Each time he goes into her office, she stops what she is doing to answer his questions, “no matter how high the papers were stacked on her desk.  It's easy to respect someone when they respect you,” he said.

Operations Division’s Shaun Pierce has earned similar kudos for how she treats others and gets the job done.

“She’s quietly become one of our great problem solvers,” Murphy said.  “Teammates approach [her] because they know she will simply make it happen.”

With 21 years of service to the nation, Pierce started working for Jacksonville District in Engineering Division in 2007. She transferred to Operations Division in 2009, where she now supports Emergency Management (EM) Branch.  She coordinates with EM, South Atlantic Division and other offices to ensure funds are received and available to process requests for individuals who are deployed or attending training exercises, said Tina Cox, budget analyst. 

“She works until all funds are received to ensure the employees are able to leave on time and she ensures there is adequate funding throughout the deployments, many times coordinating and requesting additional funds for labor and travel,” Cox said.

Much of Pierce’s job requires exceptional people and organizational skills. She said she learned most of those skills while growing up.  

“If you experience respect, it's easy to understand the importance of respecting others. I learned what I know simply by being around respectful parents, grandparents and other adults who played significant roles in my life such as pastors, teachers and supervisors.”   

Pierce greatly admired former co-worker Joyce Fortenberry, who retired as a workforce management specialist for Engineering Division.  “She treated everyone with dignity and respect. Being able to deal with people effectively was a skill that seemed to come naturally to her. If there was an employee in the workplace who I might emulate, it would definitely be someone like her,” said Pierce.

“Things always go more smoothly when employees and management work as a team by showing respect towards each other,” Pierce added. She described respect as “thinking and acting in a way that shows others you care about their feelings as well as their well-being.”

One way to do this is to share knowledge with others. 

Known for his grouting, blasting and rock quarrying expertise throughout the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rafael Rios, geologist in Engineering Division, Geotechnical Branch has served more than 36 years with Jacksonville District, where he has developed, honed and shared his life’s work with others.    

“I admire and commend Rafael for the respect he has earned throughout the Corps, from local to national peers in the discipline of engineering geology,” said Luis Ruiz, chief, Geotechnical Branch.

Rios is known for his work on grouting at the Cerrillos and Portugués dams, and quarry development and rock quality determination in Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. In addition, he is known for blasting on most port and harbor projects along the eastern seaboard, as well as the Palm Valley Bridge demolition and numerous upland projects. 

On any given day, he’s consulted by South Atlantic Division and districts around the globe for assistance on grouting and blasting matters.  Some of his endeavors also include rewriting blasting and grouting engineering manuals and consulting on dam projects for Wilmington, Sacramento, Savannah, Mobile and Korea districts. 

“The respect [for] Rafael [by] headquarters is demonstrated in his selection as the first expert to conduct a regional series of lectures on blasting in the newly created [Geotechnical and Materials Community of Practice] Traveling Scholar Program,” Ruiz said.  He added that Rios’ own values toward others “have reflected back on him tenfold, as seen through his contributions and accomplishments for the Corps and the nation.”