ACC-RI executive director appointed to SES
September 30, 2013
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Looking back at her 32 years of government service during the Senior Executive Service appointment ceremony being held in her honor here in Heritage Hall on Sept. 19, she made it clear that this achievement was not hers alone.
Melanie A. Johnson, the newly appointed SES, Army Contracting Command-Rock Island, attributed this accomplishment to her family, her contracting mentors, a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work.
Johnson was appointed executive director of ACC-RI on Sept. 8 and assumed her SES role just 11 days later. As ACC-RI's new leader, she heads a center of approximately 600 contracting professionals who support joint forces worldwide.
"As an organization within this great Army, I believe we are going to face challenging times in the very near future," said Johnson. "Sequestration and budget cuts will continue, and we may have some lean years ahead of us, but I have been with this organization through thick and thin and there is nothing that we can't do when we pull together and work together."
In this position, Johnson has overall executive responsibility for ACC-RI, a center that falls under Army Contracting Command, Huntsville, Ala.
During her remarks, Johnson recalled her humble beginnings at RIA.
Thirty-two years ago, I started as a GS-2 clerk typist summer hire," said Johnson. "At that time summer hires were hired based on the lottery system, and it was based on the last digit of your social security number. Lucky for me it was number eight and I was hired. If that wouldn't have been the case, I might not be here today."
During that first summer, Johnson said she was fortunate to be assigned to procurement, working for Harry Hyman in the weapons division.
"He saw something within me and decided to make me a permanent hire," said Johnson. "Again, someone else had a plan other than me."
Over the years, Johnson said she gained not only a formal education -- she obtained three degrees going to school part-time taking night courses over a stretch of 20 years -- but she also received an invaluable on-the-job education.
"I was very fortunate and had great mentors and supervisors that provided me with great opportunities to grow," said Johnson.
During the ceremony, Johnson recalled several of her assignments and the lessons she learned from each of the leaders in those areas, including her time serving as Maj. Gen. (R) Robert Radin's executive officer, during his time as commanding general of Army Sustainment Command.
"I lived through the long days, especially Thursday evenings preparing the ASC SITREP for [Army Materiel Command]," said Johnson. "I knew I had succeeded when he told me on my last day that my stint as his [executive officer] turned out much better than he thought it would.
In addition to luck, hard work and role models, Johnson said her family was instrumental in helping her along the path to become an SES. She said that even early on, her mom enforced the importance of a college education and her mother-in-law and father-in-law made that education possible for her and Tim by watching their children, fixing dinner and doing laundry while they took classes.
"Last, but not least, I definitely could not have accomplished any of this without my wonderful husband, Tim Johnson," she said. "Without his unfailing support I would not be standing here today. He unselfishly put his career on the back burner, so I could pursue my dreams within Army contracting. He has been my strongest supporter and there are not many men who would graciously do what he has done and for that, I thank him."
Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, Army Contracting Command commanding general, presided at the ceremony. Nichols said she is confident that Johnson will be a senior leader who will help the Army acquisition field achieve its goals, and serve as a professional who will use her problem solving skills in addressing the complexity of modern military contracting.
"[Johnson] brings to ACC a tremendous wealth of contracting experience, and unequaled knowledge of the skills and requirements our contracting team must master in order to provide the best value for our customer -- the Soldier -- and our supplier -- the American taxpayer," Nichols said.
Beyond serving the nation's Warfighters and taxpayers, Nichols said that Melanie and her husband, Timothy Johnson, chief of ACC-RI's Information Technology Division, make service to the community a priority.
"What is not known to many is the extensive volunteer and civil service work Melanie and her husband, Tim, do," said Nichols. "Melanie has always held true to her faith and determination by aiding those in need. Her long list of local and nationwide charitable services proves her to be a selfless leader and humanitarian."
During the ceremony, Nichols swore in Johnson. Timothy Johnson placed the SES pin on his wife's lapel.
Nichols presented the SES flag to Johnson with assistance from Master Sgt. Sol Nevarezberrios, ACC-RI senior NCO, and Staff Sgt. Elvon Dixon, ACC-RI contract specialist, who helped unfurl the SES flag.
The Senior Executive Service was established in 1978 and is a corps of federal executives appointed to key leadership positions just below the level of presidential appointees, and includes most managerial, supervisory and policy positions in the executive branch of the federal government classified above General Schedule grade 15 or its equivalent.
SES members serve as the major link between presidential appointees and the federal civilian employees.
For protocol purposes, SES members within the Department of Defense are considered the equivalent of flag officers such as generals and admirals. Johnson's appointment brings the total number of SES members at Rock Island Arsenal up to seven.
Prior to her current position, Johnson currently served as the ACC-RI director for Field Support Contracting, in which she oversaw approximately 200 people in the Sustainment, Reachback, and Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contracting divisions, and the Enhanced Army Global Logistics Enterprise Contracting Office.
Previous assignments include: chief of the EAGLE Contracting Office; chief of the ACC-RI Installation Contracting Division; Army Sustainment Command executive officer; and varying roles in the ammunition, foreign military sales and non-standard ammunition areas.
Johnson, a Quad Cities native, earned her bachelor's degree from Western Illinois University, Macomb, Ill., and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
She is Army Acquisition Corps member, Level III certified in Contracting and Level I certified in Program Management. She is a graduate of the Brookings Institute Leadership Training program, and a graduate of first ASC Journey to Leadership Tier III program.
Johnson is also the recipient of the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe award and the Commander's Award for Civilian Service as an ACC Small Business Champion under the EAGLE Program.