A new Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting began working for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command June 7 and was arrested in her office June 10.

Mary "Cathy" Dickens spent about 10 minutes "jail time" during USASMDC/ARSTRAT's jail day fund raiser for being "the new person."

"I think the jail fund raiser was outstanding and to be arrested made me feel like I am already part of the SMDC family," Dickens said. "I am looking forward to working with everyone in this great command."

Jail Day was conducted to raise funds for USASMDC/ARSTRAT's organizational day set for Sept. 10. This year's fund raiser netted $1,100 -- $300 more than last year.

Dickens has been a Department of the Army civilian since 1977, and has 29 years of contracting experience.

"I have been fortunate to work at Redstone (Arsenal) my entire career, with the exception of a six-month developmental assignment at Army Materiel Command in Fort Belvoir, Va.," she said. "I consider contracting to be an excellent career field with many challenges and opportunities to excel."

She comes to USASMDC/ARSTRAT from the Aviation and Missile Command contracting office, but she said this is not her first time here.

"I did work in SMDC contracting in 1987," she said. "The SMDC contracting organization has an outstanding reputation in the Army."

Dickens has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Athens State College and a Master of Science in management from Florida Institute of Technology.

Dickens' promotion to this Senior Executive Service position will become official in a ceremony at 2 p.m., July 10.

"I am very excited to be joining SMDC as a senior leader," Dickens said. "My goal is to continue supporting the Army and contributing to this critical futuristic Army mission."

One of the major challenges in the contracting field, according to Dickens, is a shortage of experienced contracting professionals.

"This job gives me the opportunity to build an organization that appeals to the best and brightest as a result of our reputation, opportunities to excel and the diversity of contract challenges," Dickens said. "My focus will be taking care of people, growing the leaders of tomorrow and taking care of customers. I am confident this will lead to mission success and outstanding achievements for our organization.

"I am currently transitioning and already jumping in; we are a busy organization," Dickens said. "I still have many boxes in my room to unpack, but my first priority this week is to get my family pictures displayed. This will remind me to head home at night!"

Dickens has been married for 33 years and has two grown sons. She is a native of Alabama, growing up in Hazel Green.