Gautney Named USACE’s Public Affairs Officer of the Year

Having the ability to face and overcome challenges is a sign of a true leader, and it is something that should be rewarded. Dustin Gautney, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District Chief of Public Affairs, did just that.

Gautney was selected as the USACE Public Affairs Officer of the Year during the USACE PA Conference in Oakland, California, March 21, 2024.

“I was extremely surprised that I received such an honor,” Gautney said. “USACE, as an agency, has absolutely fantastic public affairs officers, many of whom are on my staff. So, for someone like me who has never sought recognition and is probably the most comfortable working behind the scenes. I don’t think I have had the time to reflect on winning such prestigious recognition.”

Dustin Gautney, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District Chief of Public Affairs, was awarded the USACE Public Affairs Officer of the Year Award during the USACE Public Affairs Conference in Oakland, California, March 21, 2024. Gautney was recognized for his modernization and expansion of the Mobile District PA Office, which enhanced the reputation of the District and contributed to the success of the entire South Atlantic Division. U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY DALTON YODER

When Gautney started working for USACE and the Mobile District in April 2018, the office was bare as the most recent staff had departed and found he would be working in a two-man shop.

Since then, the office has grown significantly. It has added a satellite office at Lake Lanier, Georgia, and the Visual Information position has been added to the office that once used to be under the IT section.

Chris Augsburger, USACE Director of Public Affairs, said Gautney’s overseeing the growth and coverage of the Mobile’s office is one of the reasons he won the award.

“In just two years, Dustin has completely modernized Mobile District’s communication efforts,” said Augsburger. “By adding exceptional staff and implementing streamlined processes, we can better engage with local communities and partners. This complete rebuild of the Mobile District’s program is what really sets Dustin apart from his peers.”

Another person who is impressed with the work Gautney has done is Kimberly Wintrich, South Atlantic Division Chief of Public Affairs.

Wintrich said she will continue to be Gautney’s biggest cheerleader.

“I’ve been with the SAD since when Dustin was the deputy, and I’ve seen so much growth, and when he secured the chief position, I was not surprised,” said Wintrich. “He moved into the seat and just raised the bar. He increased staffing, which ultimately increased how much and how often the Mobile District tells its story. I only see good things coming out of the District, and I see that continuing in the future.”

Wintrich also said that Gautney’s award is proof that he and his staff are strategically communicating the USACE mission and its successes.

“Dustin manages a very successful team, so this award also goes to his staff,” said Wintrich. “I am so proud to be associated with him. I expect him to continue raising the bar and holding his staff to a high level of standards.”

Augsburger said that Gautney’s hard work, dedication and expertise were instrumental in him being recognized for the award.

“His leadership and vision have resulted in the establishment of a fully functional media operations center, the creation of a satellite Public Affairs office, and the addition of several new staff positions to better serve and educate the region,” said Augsburger. “His efforts have not only enhanced the District’s reputation, but they have contributed to the success of the entire South Atlantic Division.”

Gautney said the award substantiates the decisions he and the Mobile District leadership made in expanding and growing the public affairs office and staff.

“I think it validates some of the bold decisions this office and the command made with the expansion of the office,” Gautney said. “We were one of the first Districts to incorporate a full-time webmaster years before the push to change how we look at website management. The expansion from a very small office to a regional multi-discipline operation was a bold and costly venture, but the recognition by my peers and headquarters shows that not only were we right, but that Mobile, as a District, serves as an example and leader of how USACE can continue to grow to meet the needs of the nation and our stakeholders.”

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