By LaVonne Jenkins
The Defense Contract Management Agency Baltimore leadership team encourages employees to hone their leadership skills by attending various onsite training forums throughout the year.
Casey Durst, director of field operations for the Customs and Border Protection's Baltimore office, visited the contract management office to discuss leadership lessons and foster different perspectives on March 7. The Baltimore field office is the headquarters for CBP operations in the mid-Atlantic region.
Durst has a list of career accomplishments. She has been awarded the CBP Commissioner’s Ambassador Award, the Customer Service and Professionalism Award, and was designated as the on-site commander for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s task force initiated in response to Hurricane Florence.
“Leadership through challenge” was the theme of Durst’s discussion. During the visit, she shared leadership lessons from her federal career. In her current position, Durst’s area of responsibility spans from southern New Jersey to northern Virginia with 23 ports of entry including two major international airports and eight seaports.
Navy Capt. Lorenzo Williams, DCMA Baltimore’s commander, said he learned a lot from Durst as she discussed effective strategies to lead her multifunctional and geographically dispersed team through continuous operations during the recent government shutdown.
“She recounted many difficult leadership situations with not only her staff, but with citizens whose lives had been irreparably altered by natural disasters,” said Williams.
Vivian Smallwood, DCMA Northrup Grumman Baltimore pricing team supervisor, said, “Director Durst sincerely listens to and cares about her staff. She meets them where they are and unapologetically implements change as needed.”
Durst told employees not to lead like someone else, and instead operate in their own unique style. She also encouraged the group to ignore distractions and to remain focused on their work and help others focus on their work.
“Director Durst described instances when engagement meant individual contact with citizens to understand their needs and motivations in order to better serve them and possibly save their lives,” said Williams. “DCMA employees must also actively engage our customers to make sure we keep our warfighters safe. We want to protect their lives.”
Williams said Durst’s leadership lessons encouraged the DCMA team, and she reminded the group that if no one is following an individual, then that person is not leading.
Durst told the group she never aspired to be a leader. But as various assignments were presented to her, she put forth her best efforts, which led to additional leadership opportunities.
“She knows how to lead in various situations,” Williams said. “We are appreciative that she came to visit our office and provide valuable insight to the team on how to lead, especially in challenging circumstances.”
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