Cathy Dickens retiring.JPG

AMCOM senior civilian ending 37-year journey

Stepping out of her comfort zone has long defined the career of the Aviation and Missile Command’s Cathy Dickens.

So, too, has tenacity, commitment, resourcefulness, determination, teamwork, persistence and passion.

For 37 years, Dickens has followed a career path that put her in the right place at the right time to effect change, to implement new programs and to support the war fighter. Beginning in her early years as an entry-level secretary, Dickens established a reputation as being a civil servant committed to making a difference for the employees she worked with and the war fighters she served. That reputation followed her through her many years as a contracting official when she juggled a job and a family while also going to college and through her later career days when she’s served as a member of the senior executive service at the Space and Missile Defense Command, the Army Contracting Command and then AMCOM.

“I always did my best at whatever job I had,” said Dickens, who is the first female senior executive to serve as AMCOM’s deputy commander and as its highest civilian executive, and the first leader with a contracting background to take on the job.

“I hope the impression that I’ve left with others is that I am someone they could always count on, that I actually did what I said I would do. I hope people see me as someone who always met her commitments and her promises, and as a leader who helped them to accomplish their mission.”

Dickens is stepping totally out of her comfort zone as she prepares to retire from government service and leave her second family – her Army family – at Redstone Arsenal. She retires Tuesday during a dinner ceremony at The Summit.

Dickens said it’s time to say “goodbye” to her second family so she can concentrate wholeheartedly on her first family – her mother, her two sons and their wives, and her 1-year-old grandson, all of whom live close to Dickens’ Meridianville home. Sadly, Dickens’ family is without her husband, who died of cancer five years ago. While she does plan to continue her professional career with a local defense contractor, her new employment opportunity will come with the flexibility she needs to spend quality time with her family.

“I don’t think I can ever have another job where I can serve the nation in the same way as I have here at Redstone Arsenal,” she said. “But I will continue to serve in a little different way.”

During the course of her career, Dickens has been recognized for numerous achievements. She has been the recipient of such awards as the Award for Exceptional Civilian Service, Army Specialized Contracting Award, Civilian Meritorious Award and the Superior Civilian Service Award as well as being chosen as the DA Civilian of the Year by the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army in 2013.

But one of her most cherished awards is the Order of St. Michael that she received from the Army Aviation Association of America as a non-aviator. The award recognizes those who have contributed significantly to the promotion of Army aviation in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient’s seniors, subordinates and peers.

“That really touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes because it was about the customer recognizing what I had done in support of them,” she said.

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