Lisa Metheney, the Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project Management and senior civilian for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District, is celebrating a remarkable milestone in her career. This year marks her 30th year of federal service with the same agency, a feat that only a small percentage of federal employees achieve.
“My life is a bit of a funny story. I grew up in Cowen, West Virginia, and it was the 80s, a good time to grow up in rural America,” said Metheney. “My parents joked that I could go to any school that paid me to go there. Fortunately, I got a nearly full ride to Marshall University in Huntington, right on the Ohio River, where West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky come together. I graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics in 1992. One of my favorite professors was working with the Corps in Huntington then and heard they were hiring interns. He is the one that suggested I apply and use my degree for my summer job before starting graduate school.”
On June 1, 1993, Metheney officially started her first day as a federal employee as a GS-5 Economic Assistant.
“I remember my first salary was $17,000 and some change,” said Metheney. “As a recent grad, I was thrilled to have the chance to use my degree and start making some real money. I worked there full time through the summer, and then when grad school started in the fall, I worked 20hours for the Corps and 20 hours for Marshall, all while attending classes for my masters.”
A young woman passionate about economics and making a difference, she finished her Master of Business Administration in 1994. She was given an offer to work full-time with the Huntington District.
“When I finished my graduate degree, they hired me full-time as a GS-9 Financial Analyst,” she said. “I worked in the Resource Evaluation Branch in the Planning Division with some great people like John Yeager, the senior economist in the section I was assigned. Our team did all the National Environmental Policy Act work, some recreation, and a lot of flood control. I got to work on huge projects, be involved with many of the district’s core functions, and try many different things.”
Her talent and hard work were quickly recognized, and over the years, she has taken on increasingly challenging roles and responsibilities, demonstrating her expertise, commitment, and dedication to the Corps’ mission.
“The Corps allowed me to do a 6-month assignment at the Europe District in Wiesbaden, Germany, as part of the Leadership Development Program. I was able to work disaster response in several places, including the Jacksonville District,” said Metheney.
“On July 1, 1999, I moved here and started with the Charleston District. When I first came down here, I thought I’d be here for 5-6 years and maybe go to the Northwest and learn about hydropower and work with the tribes out there, but there were interesting projects here, and I kept learning more and doing more, and they kept promoting me, and now they let me be in charge of the whole place.”
Metheney’s success in her career can be attributed to her dedication and ability to work collaboratively with others. She has a reputation for being a team player, and her colleagues often describe her as someone who is always willing to lend a hand and share her expertise.
“There have been so many great people that have helped me along the way. I’ve had a ton of great colleagues and mentors that had I not met them when I did, I wouldn’t be in this seat today,” said Metheney. “My predecessor, Bill Stein, was one of those great mentors and champions. A lot of the things that I learned about running a district, I learned from him.”
Metheney is known for her dedication to her work and her ability to build strong relationships with colleagues and stakeholders.
“Lisa Metheny and her incredibly talented team at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District, have been with us at every step of the way over the last 12 years,” said Barbara Melvin, South Carolina Ports Authority president and CEO. “Together, we achieved what many thought impossible with the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project. I will always cherish her leadership, partnership, and friendship and wish her the very best as she celebrates her 30th year of federal service.”
When faced with the opportunity to become the DPM of Charleston District her proven track record, electric personality and ability to build and foster professional relationships helped her to land the job.
“When Ed Chamberlayne, asked me who I thought should replace me as the DPM, I immediately and unequivocally said Lisa,” said Bill Stein former Charleston District DPM and Lisa’s predecessor. “I just knew she had the knowledge, skills, abilities and collaborative personality to lead Charleston District. With her, I knew the District would have an easy transition and would continue to be successful for years to come.”
Though the work is challenging, Metheney cites creative problem-solving as a critical skill for leadership.
“I was here when we only had 134 people working for the district, and now we’re at about 250. Not gonna lie, there were some lean years in there,” Metheney said. “Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s part of the culture of this district to figure out the hard stuff. No matter what, we’ll figure it out. It may be unconventional, but we will figure it out and make it work.”
Metheney’s 30 years of federal service are a testament to her unwavering commitment to public service, outstanding leadership, and dedication to the Corps’ mission. She inspires her colleagues and is a shining example of the best of what the federal workforce has to offer.
“Becoming a DPM is just like ‘boiling a frog,’” she said. “You start out in cold water and gradually turn the heat up. The biggest part is understanding more and more of the bigger picture and using that experience to shape and develop your team. Without all the amazing people that have helped me along the way, I would have never made it here, and I strive to do that for others and be the mentor for the next generation of USACE leaders.”