skip navigation links
USGS - science for a changing world

Human Capital Services and Support

We Are USGS!

Recipients of the 2012 Excellence In Leadership Award

Excellence in Leadership Logo

Photo of the Leadership Award
Vessel Team - Captains Tim Cherry and Terry Lewchanin and Ms. Pamela Dei
Jennifer Dansie

In recognition of their outstanding acts, services, and achievements that exemplify and support the USGS leadership goals throughout the Bureau.

Honor awards will be presented at the U.S. Geological Survey's Honor Awards Ceremony in Reston, Virginia, on October 11, 2012


Vessel Team:
Captain Tim Cherry, Midwest Area, Sandusky, Ohio,
Captain Terry Lewchanin, Midwest Area, Oswego, New York, and
Ms. Pamela Dei, Project Manager, Administration and Enterprise Information, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Selection Criteria
I am submitting the following Excellence in Leadership Award nomination in the categories of Cooperative Working Relationships, Problem Solving, and Technical Competence.

In June 2010, the US Geological Survey (USGS) awarded an $8.2 million contract for the construction of two, 70ft aluminum research vessels. The vessels were procured to conduct mission-critical, deep-water research on Lakes Erie and Ontario and to replace the two oldest vessels in the USGS Great Lakes Science Center’s (GLSC) fleet. The USGS used funding made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to award the vessel contract. Because the President and congress intended ARRA funding to stimulate economic growth and create jobs, nearly all aspects of the final vessel design and construction were under significantly compressed timelines. The USGS assigned a three person team (Captains Tim Cherry and Terry Lewchanin, and Pamela Dei) responsibility to oversee and complete this time sensitive, complex, high priority ARRA project.

The compressed timeline created extraordinarily challenging circumstances throughout the entire design and construction period. Beyond the three USGS employees, only a few in USGS leadership positions were aware and understood the depth of the problems still being tackled between USGS and the shipyard as the shipyard moved forward with formal commissioning and delivery of the final vessels scheduled for August 2011. Dignitaries at the DOI and Bureau level were already invited speakers for the Commissioning Ceremony, and invitations had already been made to various congressional offices. Meanwhile, behind the scenes the vessels were not complete, there was little to no funding available, and the USGS team and shipyard did not share a vision for how incomplete items should be addressed and how disputed actions should be rectified.

One of the most difficult periods occurred in 2012, subsequent to the shipyard ceremony, in the months leading up to USGS taking formal possession of the vessels. During this period, Captains Cherry and Lewchanin and Ms. Dei, displayed exemplary problem-solving skills, sustained and strengthened cooperative working relationships, and demonstrated superior technical competence to successfully complete the project. Large vessel construction is a highly specialized field requiring considerable academic training in naval architecture, and years of experience to understand, assimilate and accurately apply a variety of maritime standards and codes. Large research vessels also contain more than 60 systems (e.g., mechanical propulsion; fire suppression; navigation; lifesaving; scientific gear; etc.), and our team needed a thorough technical understanding of each in order to effectively oversee and inspect contractual designs and construction activities. . Effective oversight of such a contract, therefore, required considerable technical sophistication and an understanding of how to address unanticipated design and construction problems in a manner consistent with Federal contracting procedures, practices, requirements, specifications, and applicable maritime industry standards.

The successful administration and oversight of the vessel construction project in its final stages during 2012 was unusually intense and sustained. Through continuous communication the three USGS employees effectively shared the burden for a substantial amount of personal and weekend time at the shipyard, and forged cooperative solutions to spreadsheets full of unanticipated problems and challenges. At almost any time these individuals could have blamed others or turned the entire conundrum over to USGS contracting to untangle. Instead, they persevered, worked as a team, and capitalized on their strengths to see the project to successful completion. The team exercised creative problem-solving by categorizing the dozens of unresolved issues into different bins (workmanship, warranty, disputed application of contract/code/maritime standards), reassessed accountability and options in light of compressed timelines and diminished funding, and deployed different strategies that eliminated nearly all of the most vexing problems.

Because the team exercised creative problem-solving skills, provided mutually reinforcing support to each other, maintained cooperative working relationships among themselves and many others, and applied substantial technical competence to resolve potentially serious mechanical and structural challenges, the research vessels were successfully completed and delivered in July 2012. The research vessels are now part of the USGS GLSC fleet and will provide a 21st Century platform to conduct state-of-the-art science.


Jennifer Dansie
Hydrologic Technician
Rocky Mountain Area
Durango, Colorado

I would like to nominate Jennifer Dansie of the Durango Field office for a USGS Excellence in Leadership Award. Jennifer exemplifies the concept of leadership from any position, and was the driving force behind the implementation of the Introduction to Streamgaging course that was first offered July 30 to August 3, 2012.

In August of 2011 I was contacted by Bill Hazell of the North Carolina Water Science Center as he was scheduled to rotate off of the Scientific and Technical Employee Development (STED) committee. He was looking for someone that was enthusiastic with leadership potential that could help “jump start” the committee, as in his opinion it was losing momentum. I recommended Jen, and by September of 2011 she was a member of the committee.

As Jen became involved with STED, she noticed that there was no nationwide introduction to surface water techniques course for beginning hydrologic technicians, but that various other technical and data committee’s had begun the process of developing such a course . These included but were not limited to the CHIDER, CRACD and WestDac groups; see for more information on these committees. What Jen then did was to research these groups to see what progress had been made. In reviewing the data, she found an online course was pretty much intact as developed by Mike Nolan, the former Western Region Surface Water specialist, but it was not tied to any hands on training. After several more weeks of looking into this she was able to ascertain that the course materials were all available, through both online training as well as general class outlines given by various individuals in the recent past, but had never been assembled into one course and received the “official” Office of Surface Water(OSW) stamp of approval.

What Jen then did was to get a buy in for the course concept from the other members of the STED committee. Once she had received an OK from STED, she assembled the appropriate players for the development of the course. These players included an OSW representative, Jim Kolva, the four Water Science Field team Surface Water Specialists, Bill Bartlett, Larry Bohman, Mark Smith and Terry Kenny. Additionally the Office of Employee Development was involved with Alan Ward and TJ Lane from the OED.

This are some pretty big guns for a Hydro Tech from a small field office to assemble, but she was able not only convince them of the importance of the training, but keep them focused through the course development and logistics of implementation. During this process all the way through to the training course itself Jen kept the group accountable for their individual assignments in the process. She communicated not only the need for the course, but her unbridled enthusiasm for the project was contagious and spread throughout the group. Jen kept the focus on the final product and forced the collaboration of diverse personalities as well as varied interests and goals in the project to fruition.

All of this was accomplished while maintaining a full workload in her normal duties as a field technician. All of her field work was kept up to date and her records progress is amongst the best in the Colorado Water Science center.

Then during the initial offering of the course in July of 2012, she was chosen as one of the “flagship” instructors for the course, and spent the week at the NTC helping to initiate the next wave of hydrologic technicians to surface water field techniques, USGS style! Her insight in the development of this blended course will establish a base of introductory training for future generations of technical staff within the USGS that can be easily modified proactive to the dynamic nature of the work we do.

Pertinent link, STED committee

Conflict Management | Employee & Career Development | Human Resources |
Organization Development | Pay & Benefits | Performance & Conduct | Staffing & Workforce

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information:
Page Last Modified: Monday, 28-Apr-2014 12:05:11 EDT