Face of Defense: Civilian Employee Carries on Service Tradition
From a Galveston District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers News Release
GALVESTON, Texas, April 28, 2014 When Florence Hunt, a 30-year-career budget analyst with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District, was preparing to relocate to Germany to oversee the budget for deploying troops in Desert Storm in 1991, her granddaughter, Jody Rowe, was wrapping up law school at the University of Iowa.
Jody Rowe oversees the real estate management, disposal and other technical real estate services for the Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, carrying on her family’s tradition of military or civil service. U.S. Army photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
What neither of them knew was that nearly two decades later, they would share more than familial ties. Rowe’s law degree would enable her to continue the family tradition of supporting military service by opening the door for a career with the Corps.
“Military and civil service are longstanding family traditions that I am very proud of,” Rowe said. “Spending seven years as an Air Force spouse and later as a mother of a Marine affords me the opportunity to understand that each military member represents a military family and makes me appreciate how important the support of the family is in allowing military members to serve.”
Prior to being hired by the USACE Rock Island District in 2009 as a realty specialist, Rowe was a county prosecutor, public defender, and then she worked in municipal government to manage real estate requirements to build the first new bridge in 50 years to cross the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois.
In addition to government service, she owned and managed a title and escrow company, closing $70 million to $120 million in commercial and residential real estate transactions annually. Managing projects along the Mississippi River, the busiest commercial waterway in the world, helped prepare her to oversee real estate projects along the Texas coast – home to three of the top 10 ports in the nation and an economic driver of the national economy.
In 2012, Rowe was promoted as a branch chief at the USACE Galveston District to oversee the real estate management, disposal and other technical real estate services for the district. More specifically, district officials said, she was selected for her proven business acumen to seek market-based business solutions to transform the district’s real estate services.
Shortly after her arrival, she focused on advancing districtwide efficiency and accountability, implementing “cost-share and outgrant product delivery teams” as part of that effort. An outgrant is a legal document that authorizes the right to use real property managed by the Corps and establishes the timeframe, consideration, conditions and restrictions of its use.
Rowe said the interdisciplinary teams strive to improve applicant services while reducing administrative expenses. Their work includes methods for closing out cost-share projects with more than $100 million in nonfederal sponsor credits requiring real estate audits and establishing outgrant processes to handle the district’s outgrant portfolio of more than 1,000 outgrants with more being added daily.
Most recently, Rowe negotiated a long-term license with a private developer to build an $80 million petroleum transfer facility and pipeline on a property near Port Arthur, Texas, that is subject to federal easements and included provisions that will allow the pipeline to run under a federal placement area -- a federally-authorized disposal site for dredged material.
Looking ahead, Rowe said, she is developing a programming model that will identify the resources, funding and scheduling requirements for each of the 25 real estate services, including charging to place dredged material in federal navigation placement areas as well as require applicants to obtain real estate authorization and submit sediment test results to the district for review and approval.
“The Corps has critical responsibilities to plan, construct, operate and maintain a significant portion of America’s water resources infrastructure to enable the transportation of goods and commodities as well as restore significant aquatic ecosystems,” she said. “These efforts will improve the way the district conducts business along the Texas coast and ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations.”
Additionally, applicants who desire to use Corps-owned property must reimburse administrative costs associated with the processing of requests in advance, including payment for work products such as environmental, cultural and historical assessments, contract preparation, determinations of value and preparation of land surveys, maps and legal descriptions.
“This modernization will improve our policies and procedures that govern federal water resources development and support strategies for managing the district’s resources,” Rowe said. “We recognize it will require time to process applications and are committed to being responsive to our customers.”
Rowe’s continued commitment to provide first-rate customer service led her to align work processes to maximize efficiency and earned her a 2013 Army Achievement Award, officials said. Her perseverance and dedication to the Corps is reminiscent of her grandmother’s pursuit of excellence and continues the cycle of setting an example for her family to follow, they added.
A native of Iowa, she earned an associate’s degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northern Michigan University, a master’s degree in political science and a juris doctor of law degree from the University of Iowa, as well as an economic development specialist certification from the National Development Council. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband Robert, five children and two grandchildren.