News Story Manager

Willis named Corps' 2014 Landscape Architect of the Year

Published Aug. 22, 2014
Sandra Willis (left), the USACE 2014 Landscape Architect of the Year, inspects the stone seat wall and grading for pond and landscape berms at the Tujunga Wash Ecocycstem Restoration Porject.

Sandra Willis (left), the USACE 2014 Landscape Architect of the Year, inspects the stone seat wall and grading for pond and landscape berms at the Tujunga Wash Ecocycstem Restoration Porject.

LOS ANGELES – Sandra Willis, a registered landscape architect for the Los Angeles District’s Civil Design Branch, has been honored as the 2014 USACE Landscape Architect of the Year. The Corps’ Architecture, Interior Design and Landscape Architecture Community of Practice announced the selection Aug. 15.

Willis received the award for her “excellent technical management and leadership skills … exhibited on the Lower Santa Ana River Channel multi-phased landscaping project.”

“Ms. Willis effectively uses her communication and diplomacy skills to develop consensus among Project Delivery Team members, sponsors, construction representatives, contractors, and other stakeholders for issue resolution during all project phases,” according to the announcement.

While the Santa Ana River Mainstem project was identified as the most significant of her contributions, her supervisor, Robert Kwan, said her work on ecosystem restoration projects at Tujunga Wash, at Tres Rios in Phoenix, at Murrieta Creek and for embankment construction in support of structural modifications for Prado Dam was just as important.

 “Sandra has excellent technical skills,” Kwan said, “but I think what sets her apart, and what was a significant factor in her selection to receive this award, is her way of dealing with people. She has excellent people skills. She has an ability to get consensus among stakeholders with differing points of view. Her soft-spoken demeanor is an attribute that makes it easy for people to work with her.”

In addition to her work on ongoing projects, Willis demonstrates “her commitment to help build a sustained and quality work force for the Los Angeles District” by mentoring and providing advice on career development for interns and fellow landscape architects.

Willis obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from the School of Architecture and Environmental Design at California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo. After working in the private sector and county government developing urban and residential landscape designs, Willis joined the District’s Civil Design Section A in Engineering Division in 2006 and was promoted to the senior landscape architect position in 2010.

Corps Districts, major subordinate commands, centers of expertise and the Engineer Research and Development Center submitted nominations. Criteria considered for the selection include the nominee’s performance and recognition over the last three years; their contributions in design excellence, continuing education efforts, partnering experience and service to customers; leadership, including mentorship, teaching and participation as a sponsor or advisor in the career development of others; involvement in professional societies, teaching, publication writing, and guest speaking; and outside activities that demonstrate community support.