FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 4, 2013) -- Fort Rucker honored its professional women during its annual Women of the Year Awards March 28 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

The women were nominated by their peers and supervisors, and each has made contributions to the Army and represents its core values, according to Cynthia Lockhart, U.S. Magistrate Court liaison and victim witness liaison.

"All of the women nominees are leaders in their field and are all talented in their areas. They are great Americans," she said.

There are five categories in the competition -- professional, administrative, technical, clerical and other, but this year there were no nominees for clerical.

Col. Dana K. Renta, commander of the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, spoke on the triumphs of women through history who made achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and spoke on why it is important for not only girls to be excited about those topics, but children in general.

"Teach your kids to reach for the stars and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Continue to be challenged and consider those challenges as walls that need to be jumped," she said.

The awards recognize women for their outstanding contributions to the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, Fort Rucker and the surrounding communities, according to Lesa Willard, special emphasis program committee member.

In the professional category, Candice S. Vaughan, Directorate of Public Works, earned top honors.

"The professional woman of the year provides expert leadership of operations. She has successfully managed numerous projects involving contract management of systems valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars," said Willard. "She possesses a can-do attitude and uses her outside-the-box thinking strategy to acquire funds for projects that save Fort Rucker thousands of dollars yearly. She is positive and energetic, going beyond the requirements of her job."

In the administrative category, Annette R. Styron, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, claimed the title.

"The administrative woman of the year distinguishes herself daily, earning the confidence and respect of team members as well as installation senior staff by providing confident leadership and quality work. She is committed to achieving excellence in all assigned tasks, and possesses the knowledge and ability to ensure successful mission accomplishment. Her attention to detail and complete understanding of job processes as well as the ability to communicate effectively enables her to resolve problems early," said Willard.

In the technical category, Patsey Smith, DPW won and, according to Willard, wears two hats.

"The technical woman of the year provides technical and administrative support for two divisions within her organization. She is warm, committed and is a caring individual who demands the very best of herself and others in support of Soldiers, civilians and contractors.

"She is well respected by all subordinates, peers, contractors and the management team. She is responsible for coordinating and consolidating operating budgets, automated systems and completing reviews of designs for construction projects," said Willard.

And in the other category, Mary K. Hawkins, Directorate of Public Safety, fire prevention and protection, earned top honors.

"The other category woman of the year has a positive attitude regarding her work and takes her career specialty very seriously. She was very instrumental in developing training materials and conducting training in her career specialty. She utilizes great organizational skills in maintaining oversight of supplies as well as a variety of materials including informational videos and manuals that can be accessed by groups and organizations on Fort Rucker," said Willard.

Vaughan was surprised that she won, but was appreciative of the acknowledgment.

"It means a lot to be recognized during these financial times we are going through and the threats that we are facing. It is nice to know we are appreciated for the things we do here," she said.

Hawkins said she was proud to represent her "brotherhood" of teammates.

"I love the team-oriented cohesiveness of our little Family. I am so appreciative and honored that the extra time was taken to recognize all of us and what we do for the community," she said.

It is important for the Army to recognize female workers and their achievements, according to garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Buford E. Noland, because civilians, military and Family members all have contributions to make.

"It is important to recognize women in our community because they do great things and Fort Rucker could absolutely not run without them," he said.