The 2020 recipient of the Louis Dellamonica Award for Outstanding U.S. Army Materiel Command Personnel of the Year from AMC Headquarters is Shonda Smith, a Human Resources Specialist responsible for oversight and management of the command’s military and civilian awards program.
The 2020 recipient of the Louis Dellamonica Award for Outstanding U.S. Army Materiel Command Personnel of the Year from AMC Headquarters is Shonda Smith, a Human Resources Specialist responsible for oversight and management of the command’s military and civilian awards program. (Photo Credit: Kari Hawkins, AMC Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Two years ago, Shonda Smith took on a Human Resources task at the Army Materiel Command in the uniform of a mobilized Reserve staff sergeant, filling in as the manager for AMC’s military and civilian awards program.

Today, she continues to oversee AMC’s awards program for all internal recognitions, external organization recognitions and Army-level nomination awards. But, while she continues to serve as a Reservist, Smith transitioned in March 2020 to become a full-time, permanent Department of the Army Civilian assigned to AMC’s G-1, Human Resources.

It’s a career assignment that has led to her recognition as AMC Headquarters’ 2020 recipient of the Louis Dellamonica Award for Outstanding U.S. Army Materiel Command Personnel of the Year. The award recognizes AMC employees from throughout its 175,000-member workforce whose outstanding work accomplishments have significantly contributed to AMC’s mission, and overarching goals and objectives.

“This has all been a big surprise to me,” said Smith, an AMC G-1 Human Resources Specialist. “I processed the Dellamonica awards as part of my job. I put the award binders together that were reviewed and signed by the commanding general, and then delivered to the chief of staff for announcement.

“Through the entire process, I kept thinking ‘But we don’t have an AMC Headquarters nominee.’ When the announcement came out, everyone started congratulating me. My supervisor and everyone who works in the command offices knew I was receiving the award. But they were able to keep it from me.”

When Smith was mobilized to serve at AMC, the organization’s awards program was going through a major transition to the AMC Tasker Management System, which is a computer-based system that allows staff directorates and subordinate commands to submit award nominees electronically to AMC HQ. The system reduces processing time, ensures employee recognitions in a timely manner, provides visibility of awards through the approval process and improves historical storage of all awards.

Smith was instrumental in developing policies and routing templates for the computer-based awards program, and continues today with overall system management. Even during AMC’s shift to maximum teleworking due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith continued to move the transition forward.

“Her ability to lead, mentor and provide highly technical guidance to supervisors and leaders has vastly improved the command’s ability to recognize its employees for awards up to the Army level and for recognition from civilian agencies,” said AMC G-1 Deputy Chief of Staff Max Wyche in the nomination package.

Smith mobilized to AMC after a combined civilian/Reservist career with the 926th Engineer Brigade in Montgomery, where she worked full-time as a civilian training specialist and served as a Reservist on weekends.

“I joined the active-duty Army in 1997. When I graduated from high school, I had scholarship offers, but my grandmother had just died and my mom was sick, and I had three younger sisters,” she said. “I joined the Army so I could help take care of my family and be a role model to my sisters. I was motivated by my sisters who looked up to me.”

But, after having two children of her own, Smith decided transitioning to the Reserve would provide more time for her growing family. During the years since, she had a third child, began her career as an Army Civilian, and deployed as a Reservist to Iraq in 2004-05 and 2008-09. Today, her daughter is a senior at the University of South Alabama, and one son attends Alabama A&M University while her youngest son will join his brother at A&M in the spring.

At AMC Headquarters, Smith’s work days are spent assisting supervisors with the awards process; ensuring nominees are received for the various awards programs and that nominee forms are completed accurately; overseeing the processing of personnel awards, including unit awards, honorary awards, length of service awards and Employee of the Quarter awards; and overseeing the nominee process for external organization awards, such as awards through the Association of the U.S. Army and the National Defense Industrial Association; and overseeing nominee packets for Army-level awards. She also works with AMC’s major subordinate commands on the process for such awards as the Employee of the Quarter and Dellamonica Award.

“There’s a lot of attention to detail,” Smith said. “It requires paying attention to changes in award regulations, and making sure nominees meet the criteria and all the nomination documents are in order. I work closely with supervisors to make sure they follow the proper nomination procedures.

“The biggest challenge is keeping leaders informed of the awards program, and communicating with our leaders, major subordinate commands and employees so they know about the awards programs that are open for nominees. There’s a lot of communication with supervisors and senior leaders to make sure our employees get the recognition they deserve.”

Smith has also grown the number of nominees being considered for awards at the AMC Headquarters level. “We are now holding selection boards for awards like Employee of the Quarter because we are receiving multiple nominees from the different staff sections,” she said.

Smith hopes improvements in the AMC awards program will have a positive effect on employee morale.

“Most employees enjoy being recognized for their hard work,” she said. “This job is rewarding for me because it’s about helping employees achieve their aspirations and about making a difference in their lives.”

Smith was nominated for the Dellamonica Award by AMC HQ’s Military Personnel Human Resources Officer, Maj. William Hoffer. He described Smith as a consummate team player who “displays a constant willingness to work with others to guide and mentor them on any personnel or administrative matter. Her ability to identify areas of concern, develop protocols and implement solutions has made her program become a standard to emulate.”

For Smith, excellence on the job means knowing the regulations, policies and procedures, and communicating those to the workforce to ensure employees are doing the right thing in support of the mission.