ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Despite family connections and personal struggles, Oceanport native, Karen Gornto excelled to be named the 2011 Senior Manager of the Year award from the U.S. Army's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, June 19 for her work in effectively relocating her organization from Fort Monmouth N.J. to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

Gornto, an operations division chief, for CERDEC's Space & Terrestrial Communications Directorate was recognized for her dedication and support to S&TCD during the final year of the Base Realignment and Closure. Gornto, who still maintains a home in Monmouth County, travels to New Jersey every six weeks to visit friends and family.

"This award is very special to me. I am humbled and honored by it," said Gornto. "It's a keystone of my career at this point - especially in 2011, the year that was probably the most difficult of my career."

The Fort Monmouth move involved transferring not only personnel but ensuring lab equipment was safely and efficiently moved. Due to the efforts of Gornto and her team, S&TCD "landed intact and Army Strong at APG," It said in her award nomination.

"I was greatly saddened to see Fort Monmouth close, it was the bedrock of the surrounding communities. I could not change the BRAC decision to close Fort Monmouth and once I came to grips with that realization, my goal was to assist and support the move of my organization in the most efficient and effective manner possible to complete our mission to support the soldier."

Gornto is credited with starting a customer feedback mechanism which enhanced communication between the division and its customers. She also created a database that held the history and open contracting actions within the directorate. The reports generated by the database, which were used to brief the directorate's status, have become the model for all six CERDEC directorates. She also provided oversight and leadership to establish an omnibus contract, valued at $500 million to provide technical, administrative, and operational support to S&TCD.

She attributes her success to the dedication of her team and several role models in her life. Her father, a resident and business owner in Pine Brook, N.J. taught her "to always aspire to be the very best you can, to always reach for the top." Her husband's example of "doing the right thing and always doing more than that which is expected and requested," has guided Gornto throughout her career.

Gornto's achievements during 2011 ensured the work of S&TCD continued without disruption, serving to support the missions of the U.S. Army.