Zedalis bids farewell after 42 years of service

| December 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

Photo by Sheila Gideon Debra D. Zedalis, IMCOM-Pacific Region director, speaks to students at Seitz Elementary School, Kwajalein, about living on the remote Pacific atoll during an October 2013 visit.

Photo by Sheila Gideon
Debra D. Zedalis, IMCOM-Pacific Region director, speaks to students at Seitz Elementary School, Kwajalein, about living on the remote Pacific atoll during an October 2013 visit.

Larry Reilly
Installation Management Command-Pacific
Public Affairs

 

FORT SHAFTER — A Flying V retirement ceremony was held on Palm Circle, here, Thursday, in honor of Debra D. Zedalis, region director, Installation Management Command-Pacific, who retired after more than 42 years as a civil servant.

Zedalis, region director for the past seven years, oversaw the merger of the Korea and Pacific regions in 2011, and the addition of U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein in 2013, doubling the number of garrisons she started with in 2007 from six to 12.

She retired as a member of the Senior Executive Services branch, considered the top of the corporate ladder in civil service. It’s a far cry from her humble beginnings as a civil servant in 1972.

“Just days after graduating from high school, I entered Civil Service as a GS-3 clerk with the Internal Revenue Service in Louisville, Kentucky,” remembered Zedalis, who said her stay with the IRS was short-lived. “I really liked the IRS, but it was 55 miles from where I lived, and I quickly learned that driving 110 miles a day wasn’t all that fun.”

After three months, she made a lateral transfer to the U.S. Army Armor School at Fort Knox.

The Army’s civilian corps seemed to be a natural fit for Zedalis, whose father and two brothers served during the Vietnam era.

“We’ve always been an Army family,” said Zedalis.

She later took positions at the Army’s Armor Center, Fort Knox, and the Training and Doctrine Command, before transferring to Germany. There, she worked for the office of deputy chief of staff for Resource Management, and then for Personnel, followed by Personnel and Installation Management (ODCSPIM), U.S. Army-Europe (USAREUR).

It was during her assignment with ODCSPIM as a GS-15 that the precursor to IMCOM was established.

“The concept of Installation Management Agency (IMA) took us all by surprise,” said Zedalis. “At that time, the Department of the Army had what was called the Installation Management Steering Committee, comprised of two-star generals from the 15 Major Army Commands (MACOM) that ‘owned’ installations.”

And then came the event that altered her career path and, ultimately, put her in the seat of the IMCOM-Pacific region director.”

“The USAREUR, ODCSPIM and I were at the steering committee to learn of the Army initiative called the ‘Centralization of Installation Management’ when the planes hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon,” she recalled. “That afternoon, we were called back to the conference room and were then briefed on the centralization concept. MACOMs were told that they had to stand up the IMA regions within one year.”

The Army stood up IMA so that Soldiers and their families, wherever they went, would know what service, at what standard, they would receive at every post, and the Army would more effectively use the dollars it received by being able to buy large quantities of items and have them delivered to multiple installations.

“IMA was often compared to McDonalds — services and programs would be standardized, and you’d know what you were getting, wherever you went,” said Zedalis. “Frankly, it made a lot of sense then, and in my opinion, makes even more sense now.”

Soon after 9/11, Zedalis became the first region chief of staff as she helped establish the IMA-Europe Region.

“It was an exciting time as we set up a brand-new organization and had to define the processes, acquire buildings, furnishings and equipment, but most important was the establishment of the communication channels with MACOM, DA and IMA headquarters, and the garrisons,” said Zedalis. “When IMA was transformed into IMCOM in 2006, we had a commander, as opposed to a staff or agency head, and that proved to be a great advantage.”

Zedalis served as the deputy garrison commander at West Point, where she created professional development programs for her civilian workforce.

Since rising to the SES and assuming the responsibility of director, IMCOM-Pacific Region in 2007, she has emphasized coaching, teaching and mentoring to the workforce for when they assist the garrison teams, and in turn when the garrison workforce serves its community.

“Anyone who has ever worked with the wonderful Soldiers, civilians and families we have will always have a passion for serving with them and for them. … It is truly a passion to serve,” added Zedalis. “Soldiers volunteer because they have a heart for service. We who volunteer to take care of them have that same heart of service and a desire to be a part of something larger than ourselves.”

Zedalis will retire in Hawaii and keep in touch with her team, and she plans to do volunteer work.

“The Army has given me so much — education, experiences and life-changing events — that I feel it is now my time to give back … and I am looking forward to doing that, but on my schedule, of course! I also plan to read, read, read,” she said. “It’s a new time and a new journey. I know that Pacific region will continue to excel, and I feel good about that.”

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