By Tonya Johnson
DCMA Public Affairs
Vivian Hill has fond memories from her time with the Defense Contract Management Agency, but her favorite includes a brush with Hollywood.
“I met John Travolta at the 1986 Federal Executive Board leadership award ceremony in Los Angeles when I was nominated for the clerical and administrative person of the year,” she said. “I got to take a picture with him that I still have to this day.”
Hill’s federal career has many highlights that will be tough to duplicate, but she is excited to start a new chapter of her life after 38 years of federal service with DCMA and its predecessor, the Defense Logistics Agency.
Hill is the DCMA Atlanta deputy director and will officially retire July 18. She has served in her current position for 15 years. DCMA Atlanta personnel manage more than 300 contractors and approximately 5,000 contracts in Georgia and South Carolina. As Hill packed up her boxes, she said she will miss mentoring employees and supporting America’s warfighters.
“I like working at DCMA because I love the people and the organization,” said Hill. “It has been an honor and a privilege. I enjoy coaching, mentoring, and supervising civilian and military personnel to meet and exceed mission goals and objectives. I help lead the best [contract management office] within the agency.”
Navy Cmdr. Frank Miller, DCMA Atlanta’s commander, said his deputy “works tirelessly on issues and efforts such as employee development, mentoring, recruiting and retaining talent, and the agency’s strategic goals and objectives to include a leading role in the Business Capability Framework.”
“Ms. Vivian Hill is the consummate leader, indispensable confidant, team player and friend,” he added. “She is always willing to tackle the most difficult and challenging projects, then exceeding all expectations. She is not only a transformer and champion of the agency, but she is also a historian of many past agency initiatives that she willingly shares.”
Early career highlights
Hill started her federal career as a GS-3 secretary with the Defense Contract Administration Services Management Area Inglewood in California in 1979. She took a break in service and then briefly worked for the Social Security Administration as a GS-4 claims clerk. She later returned to DCAS and worked in various clerical roles before deciding that she wanted to change career fields to pursue higher-paying federal career positions. But she faced a devastating loss as she switched to the acquisition career field as she became a widow in 1986.
Two years later, Hill enlisted in the Air Force Reserve to serve her country and to take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill. She served six years in the military from 1988-94 and left as a staff sergeant. “While still living in California and working as a secretary, I knew it was time to expand my career,” she said. “I applied multiple times for intern positions but did not get selected. I pursued the military route in order to take advantage of the GI Bill for the money to go back to school. I took the appropriate military tests, including the physical. I had one drawback in that I had to lose about 50 pounds to get in.”
During the same timeframe in 1988 when Hill joined the Air Force Reserve, she accepted a GS-5/7/9 contract specialist position with the Defense Contract Management Area Office El Segundo in California, which was a part of DLA. Since then, Hill has been an integral part of the acquisition career field and has rose through the ranks.
Over the years, Hill has served in numerous acquisition positions, including as an administrative contracting officer, also known as an ACO, and a divisional ACO. She even found time to serve in other capacities, including as a union representative and Equal Employment Office counselor.
Launching a new organization
It was in 2000, as a DLA employee, Hill decided to help start up a new organization – DCMA. At the time, she was working at the Defense Contract Management Command headquarters, which was a part of DLA at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. While at DCMC, Hill helped create a “One Book,” which was a culmination of the organization’s manuals and policies. She also worked on special projects, including the Single Process Initiative and Paperless Contracting, and she trained employees on the Mechanization of Contract Administration Services system.
“I was at DLA headquarters when Army Lt. Gen. (Henry) Glisson announced that the Defense Contract Management Command, led by Air Force Maj. Gen. (Timothy) Malishenko, would become its own agency known as DCMA in March 2000,” she said. “We were also told that we needed to find our own facility. I became a part of the DCMC committee helping to support the move, which was initially to Springfield, Virginia.”
Although Hill enjoyed her time at both DLA and DCMA headquarters, it is DCMA Atlanta personnel she will miss the most.
“I left DCMA headquarters in 2005 when it was still in northern Virginia,” she said. “After discussion with Air Force Maj. Gen. Darryl Scott, the director, and Sallie Flavin, the deputy, I was asked if I had interest in the vacant deputy position at DCMA Atlanta.
“I accepted the position, and it has been a great experience. I got the opportunity to mentor so many people and pay it forward. I even had the opportunity to step in as a civilian director for one year during a gap in a military assignment. I also enjoy the weather in Atlanta. There is little or no snow.”
Maximizing career opportunities
As a mentor, Hill encourages her DCMA Atlanta staff to pursue educational and career training opportunities.
“Ms. Hill is always looking for opportunities to equip employees at all levels and bridge competency gaps,” said Miller. “She promotes continuous learning in the workplace, and her genuine concern for the workforce shines through in everything she does. Ms. Hill is a mentor to military and civilian leadership at all levels within DCMA Atlanta as well as employees at every level throughout the agency. Her wisdom and experience will be missed, although it will be carried on through her legacy in the leaders she mentored.”
Hill gives her own testimony about the opportunities she has had as a civil servant. During her federal career, Hill obtained numerous degrees and participated in various training opportunities. She obtained two associate degrees, a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in organization and management. She participated in the Department of Agriculture Women’s Executive Leadership Program.
Hill attended the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Federal Executive Institute, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Defense Leadership and Management Program, and DCMA’s Tomorrow’s Leaders Initiative. She was also active in the Atlanta Federal Executive Board and has been a member of the FEB Policy Steering Committee since 2006.
In addition, Hill served a two-month developmental assignment as an associate director with the Defense Finance and Accounting Services working reconciliations. The job entailed matching the contract award financial obligations to the contractor’s finance and payments to close out contracts on the contract administration side and payment disbursement side.
Advice to DCMA workforce
Hill encouraged DCMA employees around the agency to stay focused on the mission, even during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“DCMA is important to America’s warfighters because we are the experts in contract administration and contract management. We are the eyes, ears, the seekers of truth and compliance as it applies to the Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 42 and the Defense Federal Acquisition Supplement,” she said. “The warfighter can be assured that the equipment and supplies they receive are the right items, delivered at the right time, at the right price when DCMA is involved in the defense acquisition process.”
As she nears retirement, Hill said she looks forward to reorganizing her house and reinventing herself. She plans to listen to more music and sing. She currently has more than 3,000 karaoke songs from different music genres and decades, including hard rock, classic rock, R&B, blues, country, and gospel. She performed a concert for her local American Legion chapter last year and will continue to perform in the Atlanta area.
In addition, Hill plans to become more active with her church in various ministries, including volunteering at the local food bank. She will also continue to be a foster parent. She has been a certified foster parent in Cobb County, Georgia, since 2014 and has fostered nine children in the last six years.
As she ends her federal career, Hill said she is grateful for the acquisition and leadership skills she learned and honed at DCMA.
“DCMA is where I grew up as a career professional and learned the business of contract administration and management from the ground floor to the board room and gained a forever family,” she said. “You have to immerse yourself into the very fabric of an organization to truly understand its mission and culture.
“I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the wonderful professionals I had the privilege to work with throughout my 38-year career with the Department of Defense. To quote a song from Bob Hope, ‘Thanks for the memories.’”
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