Accolades are not new to Carlene Joseph. She is a two-time McChord Air Force Base Volunteer of the Year (2004 and 2006); McChord Spouse of the Year (2006); and member of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Hall of Fame (inducted 2013). Last year, Joseph, president of the Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), was awarded the AUSA Sixth Region's highest award, the General of the Armies John J. Pershing Distinguished Service Award.
But last week, Joseph was lauded on the national level when she was honored by AUSA with the 2013 Major General Anthony J. Drexel Biddle Medal.
"It is really something," she said. "It's very inspiring."
"Interestingly," Joseph noted, "in the past, the award has usually gone to generals, so this was the first time that they awarded some of the worker bees."
The chapter's secretary, Alecia Grady, also received the Joseph P. Cribbins Medal (see sidebar).
Both women officially received their awards during the 2014 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 13.
"No one has been more active or involved, or more willing to step up and in when a need presents itself," wrote Joint Base Lewis-McChord Commander Col. H. Charles Hodges about Joseph in a memorandum to the Biddle Award Committee. "Her leadership and cultivation of the organization and its goals have been truly inspiring and impactful, and have resulted in a revitalized Association and partnership with the Installation and the local communities surrounding JBLM."
Since she took the reins as president five years ago, Joseph, Harborstone Credit Union's vice president for community development, has led the Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter to three AUSA Sixth Region Cunningham "Best Chapter" awards (2010, 2011 and 2012) along with two overall AUSA "Best Chapter" awards in 2011 and 2013.
When Joseph joined the chapter's executive committee in 2007, "she came on board as a 'mover and shaker,' and she has been moving and shaking the chapter forward ever since," reads her nomination.
Highlights of her tenure as president include:
- Developed a strategic action plan that aligned with JBLM's Community Connector Program;
- Reorganized the structure of the chapter, adding 12 subchapters to support specific units and communities;
- Emphasized corporate membership;
- Established a relationship between the chapter and the Pierce Military Business Alliance to raise funds for soldier and family programs instead of relying on fundraising events;
- Initiated the chapter's successful "Operation Turkey Drop" and "Operation Ham Grenade" programs, which provide hundreds of holiday meals to servicemembers each year.
Although she's certainly proud of her accomplishment and selection as the Biddle Award recipient, Joseph said she's even more pleased that the Capt. Meriwether Lewis Chapter was named the "Best Chapter" in AUSA. Retired Gen. John Hemphill, Herb Schmeling and Virginia Kinakin have worked tirelessly alongside Joseph to develop and streamline the subchapters, she noted. "It wasn't just one person doing this," she said. "It's a huge team.
"I'm most proud of the chapter of the year award because it reflects the accomplishment of the entire team."
AUSA is a private, non-profit educational organization that supports America's Army--Active, National Guard, Reserve, civilians, retirees and family members. It provides numerous professional development opportunities at a variety of events both local and national.
The Sixth Region represents 13 chapters in 6 states with approximately 5,000 members. For more information, visit www.ausafortlewis.com/.
>>> Alecia Grady, right, secretary for the Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, was awarded the Joseph P. Cribbins Medal. Courtesy photo
Joseph P. Cribbins Medal
It's not just the president of the Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) bringing home accolades. The chapter's secretary, Alecia Grady, was selected as the recipient of this year's Joseph P. Cribbins Medal.
The award is given to a "current or recently retired Department of the Army civilian to recognize exemplary service to the U.S. Army, significant contributions to AUSA and to the local community."
Grady, who has been a member of AUSA since 1994, began her civilian career in 1989 as a recreation secretary for Morale, Welfare and Recreation at Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pennsylvania. She worked her way up to become the ACS garrison program director and later the ACS Northeast Region manager. In 2012, she came to JBLM as the chief of Army Community Service, where she oversees 120 employees supporting more than 100,000 service members.
"She's been involved with AUSA forever," said chapter President Carlene Joseph. "Her award typically goes to a higher civil service employee equivalent to a general. This is a good first for a worker bee who has boots on the ground."