LOS ANGELES – Quana Higgins, a lead planner in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District’s Arizona-Nevada Area Office, received the first Kevin Inada Employee of the Quarter award during a ceremony held at the District headquarters May 4.
“I feel extremely humbled and grateful,” Higgins said of receiving the award named for Kevin Inada, the District’s former deputy chief of construction division until he passed away Jan.1. “It was also very unexpected, because my colleagues make for some very tough competition. It's still a surprise to me, and there are no words to express the honor of being the first award recipient in memory of a great SPL [Los Angeles District] employee.”
Higgins has been with the District since June 2009. She began her career as a Department of the Army intern. During her internship, she worked in several different branches and disciplines within the District and “found a home” in her current position in 2011.
“My work is mainly focused on the plan formulation required to authorize projects for construction or budget increases,” Higgins explained. “About half of my time is spent working with the Sacramento District working on dam safety studies.”
Col. Mark Toy, the District commander, said the award Higgins received recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of a District employee. Toy said awardees demonstrate traits exemplified by Kevin Inada during his time with the District.
“Ms. Quana Higgins is an excellent initial recipient,” said Toy. “Since there will be only four identified per year, being singled out as the best employee in any given quarter is significant. Given the number of deserving employees in the district, this is a great accomplishment.”
Inada’s widow, Judy Inada, and their son Ben were on hand for the presentation. Higgins said, as the first recipient of the award, she was initially nervous; but, she felt more comfortable as the ceremony went on.
“It was sort of surreal even at the end of the event,” she said. “It was a very humbling experience, overall. The significance of the ceremony and the award was sincerely felt through the kind words of Lt. Col. [Steven] Sigloch [the District’s deputy commander] and John Keever [chief of the District’s construction division]. It was also a great honor to meet Kevin's wife, Judy, and son, Ben.
Toy was pleased to award Higgins the District’s first honor. He is looking forward to recognizing other deserving employees in the future.
“As you know, the focus on ‘awards and recognition’ is one of the seven people initiatives that we've adopted in the Los Angeles district as part of our dedication to [the theme] ‘Building Strong and Taking Care of People!’” Toy said. “This award is one among many awards that we use to recognize the great work that people do throughout our District. I can't wait until we award the second deserving individual.”