Tobyhanna Army Depot Employee Recognized by Secretary of Defense

Brenda Gillis, a management analyst in Tobyhanna’s Resource Management Directorate, was recently recognized for her achievements in advancing equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The 43rd Annual DOD Disability Awards, held at the Pentagon on October 26, recognized 23 outstanding employees from over 1,000 applicants. In October, the DOD observed National Disability Employment Awareness Month and recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Gillis, who is blind, has worked at Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) for over 11 years. During that time, she has distinguished herself through execution of duties in alignment with the Army’s Civilian Corps Creed. Over the last year, she revamped her directorate’s telework process to make it easier to manage for years to come. This program improved employee performance and engagement and supported mission productivity and efficiency.

Gillis said she was shocked and honored when initially finding out about the award. She actually asked her team lead to ensure the email was the real deal and not a scam. While Gillis may have been surprised, members of Team Tobyhanna who have the pleasure of working alongside Gillis were hardly surprised.

Lead Management Analyst Lisa Wesneski works closely with Gillis. She said that Gillis’ ability to creatively think through any problem makes her a tremendous asset to Team Tobyhanna.

“Brenda is one of the greatest strategic thinkers I have ever worked with. She easily understands the second, third, and fourth order of effects and uses that ability to solve any problem that comes her way,” said Wesneski. “She is confident in her abilities and never hesitates to work with others, at all levels of our organization, to make processes efficient and logical. She is paving the groundwork for future employees and contributing to the success of TYAD for years to come.”

Gillis very much reciprocates the sentiments of her colleagues, saying she could not have earned this award without the support of her teammates.

Gillis protected the interests of the government by executing the out-processing procedures for civilians who are departing the depot. Over the past year, she improved the process and mentored over 23 distinct areas to ensure the importance of following the process is understood. Her improvements had a positive impact on financial metrics by ensuring out-processing time charges were accurate and employees were held accountable for their time.

Gillis also plays a key role in the execution of TYAD’s career development employee program. Her dedication to the Army People First initiative is highlighted by her genuine care and concern toward ensuring the Army will retain the Civilian talent needed to achieve Army readiness now and in pace with the Army Modernization strategy of 2035. Her selfless service and dedication to duty ensure new employees embrace the Army slogan “Be All You Can Be” and know their efforts are saving lives every day.

Gillis serves on TYAD’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility team as well as a 508 users group. Gillis is proud of the strides TYAD has made on the accessibility front, saying the depot’s accessibility has improved “lightyears” since she began her depot career.

Chief of the Personnel Management Division Jeffrey Compton also works alongside Gillis. He said that her strong work ethic and inventive ideas have provided a positive impact on the people and processes across the entire depot.

“Brenda lives the Army values in everything she does. Her personal courage and sense of duty energize her to take on any challenge, and work with others at all levels of the organization to accomplish the team’s mission,” said Compton. “Brenda can visualize a process and possesses the ability to identify gaps and then take action to address those gaps to improve the effectiveness or efficiency of the process. She is humble, yet confident in her abilities, and is proud to serve as an Army civilian.”

During the ceremony, the Department of the Army was also recognized with the Secretary of Defense Award for the Best Mid-Sized Component in Achievements in Advancing Employment Opportunities for Individual with Disabilities.

Lisa L. Arfaa, director of the DOD’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lauded all who were recognized during the ceremony.

“The contributions of today’s awardees have furthered the path to equity for people with disabilities and strengthened our workforce. I am confident DOD will continue to meet mission requirements because of employees like you [the awardees].”

Gillis said the experience has been amazing. She said not only was the award an honor, but attending the ceremony allowed her to network with representatives from other DOD entities. Gillis said she gained some valuable insights that she hopes to bring back to TYAD to continue the great progress the depot has made in accessibility.

Reflecting on her TYAD career, Gillis believes transparency, communication and understanding are cornerstones for a successful career. Gillis encouraged all members of Team Tobyhanna to advocate for themselves so we can all best support one another to achieve our common goals.

“With or without a disability, it is important to self-advocate because only you know best what you need to succeed. Challenges can only be overcome when we speak up and stand up for ourselves.”