FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Brenda Lee McCullough, director, U.S. Army Installation Management Command Directorate-Readiness (ID-R), visited Fort Campbell May 3-6, her first since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
While on post, McCullough met with garrison and 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) leaders, toured housing and facilities and hosted discussions with the civilian workforce to gain firsthand insights into how Fort Campbell operates, as well as its strengths and challenges.
“Coming out to a garrison and interacting with garrison teams is what gives me energy,” McCullough said. “It not only gives me energy, it gives me eyes on those things that I need to advocate for. I always appreciate coming to Fort Campbell.”
McCullough works to assist the 20 active and reserve component Army installations and joint bases she represents with any funding and infrastructure needs. As ID-R director, she provides that feedback directly to the IMCOM commander, Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram.
“Anyone who knows Brenda McCullough … she’s on the road probably half to three quarters of the year,” said Col. Jeremy D. Bell, Fort Campbell garrison commander. “She does that so that she can be with the garrisons and get perspective on ground of what’s happening and what our challenges are.”
McCullough also looks for best practices and innovations at each garrison, and Fort Campbell has provided plenty for her to share with others.
“Your leadership development program is by far the best,” she said. “I send people here all the time to look at your program and take the pieces from it that will work at their installations.”
The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s COVID-19 response, Fort Campbell Fire and Emergency Services’ safety, compliance and scheduling processes and various areas from the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security were among other best practices McCullough highlighted.
Four garrison employees were further recognized with ID-R coins of excellence during a garrison workforce town hall – Jim Parks, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security; Jacob Cotton, Directorate of Emergency Services; Patrice Johnson-Winters, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; and Rehanon Pampell, Directorate of Public Works.
“What’s particularly cool this morning for me about the awards is that Fort Campbell is the first [installation to receive] redone ID-R coins,” McCullough said, adding the coins were redesigned to reflect four new garrisons in her portfolio.
Other stops on McCullough’s tour included visits to the Emergency Operations Center, Olive Physical Fitness Center, Cole Park Community Activity Center, Eagles Child Development Center, New Hammond Heights, 1st Brigade Combat Team’s barracks and Campbell Army Airfield.
McCullough said she was impressed by the Army’s partnership with Lendlease on future renovations at New Hammond Heights after touring an existing home and a prototype home in the community.
The project is part of an $87.4 million development plan that also includes funding for new construction and the demolition of outdated homes in LaPointe Village over the next five years. The multimillion-dollar investment was approved by the Army in 2020 and is being funded through Lendlease’s project reinvestment account.
“My focus is always to educate and to show off some of the things that we’re doing in the future for our residents,” said Karsten Haake, Lendlease project director for the Campbell Crossing community. “I really appreciate when the Army leadership takes time to see those things and to develop that relationship further.”
MWR highlighted its own vision for updated facilities during McCullough’s stop at Olive PFC, which reopened in June 2020 after full-scale renovations. Lozada, Gertsch and Fratellenico PFCs, built in the 1970s alongside Olive PFC, are scheduled to go through the same redesign.
“It means a great deal to us, especially in Sports, Fitness and Aquatics, that our ID-R wanted to come here and see what we have to offer,” said Ryan Noble, chief, Sports Fitness and Aquatics, MWR. “It makes us feel good that we can not only provide a great showcase for her, but provide these services to our Soldiers.”
About 1,022 Soldiers workout at Olive PFC each week, Noble said. Usage had increased by 17% before the COVID-19 pandemic and the facility’s renovation. MWR expects the upcoming slate of modernized PFCs to further that impact.
Between site visits, McCullough also hosted a women’s mentoring session with garrison employees for the first time in her career. The discussion included insight on working in male-dominated environments, seeking mentorships and succeeding in the hiring process.
“I think it was an energizing session for the women of Fort Campbell who don’t always get an opportunity to see or hear from women who are senior leaders,” said Jessica Stonesifer, interim deputy garrison commander. “All the feedback that I got as we were standing around talking afterward was very positive.”
Stonesifer helped facilitate the session, but also learned more about guiding her employees after hearing McCullough’s perspective.
“For me, the things that really stood out were about coaching and mentoring my subordinates,” she said. “If you want to advance, you have to grow and step out of your comfort zone, and to me what I got from that was a lot of conversations that I’d like to have with some of my team who might be interested in pursuing other opportunities.”
Amber Shepard, executive assistant and adjutant, DHR, left the session with several takeaways for overall self-growth – be passionate, not emotional, learn how individual leaders receive information and find people you can discuss thoughts, feelings and ideas with.
“I gained a deeper perspective of how a woman can still nurture in the workplace,” Shepard said. “Ms. McCullough was very organic in who she is. The confidence she has for herself lights up the room, but she is still grounded. A humble and passionate leader.”
McCullough said her chances to speak with Fort Campbell’s civilian workforce during the visit were extremely valuable, and she thanked each of them for their role in supporting the installation at the garrison town hall.
“There is just a lot that’s good about Fort Campbell,” she said. “I appreciate you for everything that you do every day – I really get it because I’ve been there and I understand it, and I think you all do a great job.”