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Fort Rucker honors top professional women during ceremony

The 2014 Fort Rucker Women of the Year, Sgt. 1st Class Loshana Alexander, NCOA and technical winner; Janice Erdlitz, DFMWR and non-appropriated fund winner; Melissa Gothard, USACR/SC and professional winner; and Charlene Franklin, DPTMS and administrative winner, stand with their awards after the ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum March 27. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

The 2014 Fort Rucker Women of the Year, Sgt. 1st Class Loshana Alexander, NCOA and technical winner; Janice Erdlitz, DFMWR and non-appropriated fund winner; Melissa Gothard, USACR/SC and professional winner; and Charlene Franklin, DPTMS and administrative winner, stand with their awards after the ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum March 27. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: April 3, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 3, 2014) -- Fort Rucker honored its outstanding women during the 2014 Women of the Year ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum March 27.

Nominated by their peers and supervisors, 25 women were nominated in four categories: professional, administrative, technical and non-appropriated fund, but only one from each was able to take top honors.

“Today is about celebrating women who exemplify character, commitment and courage,” said Christy Cabezas, Department of Defense Dependent Schools Georgia/Alabama District superintendent and guest speaker. “It’s because of these women that we’re able to stand on their shoulders and pay it forward to other young women who follow behind us.”

“We have (more than) 20 national treasures here and many more across our nation who, every day, do great things,” added Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander. “This is an opportunity for us to celebrate (their) contributions.”

The awards are to recognize women who made outstanding contributions at Fort Rucker and in the surrounding Wiregrass community, said Tracy Dunlap, suicide prevention program manager and narrator for the ceremony.

2014 Professional Woman of the Year
Melissa Gothard, U.S Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center

“She provides insight into the Department of the Army headquarters staff-level position requiring authoritative professional staff ability,” said Dunlap. “She was a consummate team player, and was extremely diligent and accurate in her staff work.

“Her expert application of staff knowledge, engineering and technical concepts, safety risk management principles, and accident trend analysis contributed significantly to reducing preventable accidents and enhancing Soldier safety,” she added.

2014 Administrative Woman of the Year
Charlene Franklin, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security

“She is the go-to person for all administrative matters from employees in her organization,” said the narrator. “Her cheerful demeanor and positive attitude are an inspiration to her teammates while providing advice and assistance to directorate staff on overall technical management and administrative assistance on manpower utilization, performance standards, training, incentive awards, programming and budgeting.

“She is immensely dedicated to government and community service, and actively participated in the planning and execution of numerous programs on Fort Rucker and in Wiregrass communities to promote cultural awareness,” she said.

2014 Technical Woman of the Year
Sgt. 1st Class Loshana Alexander, NCO Academy

“(Alexander) demonstrated expert technical skill in the performance of duty as a training developer responsible for the management and development of all air traffic control specific training on tactical systems,” said Dunlap. “She served as a leader, teacher and mentor for more than 200 NCOs, and evaluated academic performances, leadership abilities of students, and supervised and facilitated instructions of 36 technical and tactical subjects. In addition to all of her duties, she still found time to contribute to numerous local Wiregrass community projects.”

2014 Non-Appropriated fund Woman of the Year
Janice Erdlitz, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation

“(Erdlitz) is a highly valued member of her organization and considered a subject-matter expert for marketing programs,” said the narrator. “Always promoting cost culture, she has significantly reduced applied cost in marketing by decreasing the number of printed materials without sacrificing any organizational programs.

“Her confidence and caring far exceeded the standard and she is considered a role model to be emulated,” added Dunlap. “She is truly above the best, ensuring the quality, marketing and coordination of multiple DFMWR programs and services.”

Erdlitz said she was surprised that she was even nominated, but excited that she won.

“It’s an honor just to be nominated, but to actually win and be surrounded by my peers here on Fort Rucker is just a wonderful feeling,” she said. “(Excellence) is something that we at DFMWR strive for, and I’m very fortunate that I have an incredible team, who without I would not be here today.”

Alexander also said the support of her peers, Family and friends is what helped her win the award.

“I really agree with the theme of character, courage and commitment, and the will to persevere because it’s nothing that you really plan for and it wasn’t my goal to shoot for,” she said. “I’m a single parent and I have a lot of support, and the things that I’m able to do as far as volunteering and things like that, I’m able to do because of the people who help me and support me.”

Support is something that Cabezas said was necessary as she recounted her own life and the adversity she faced growing up.

Through a humble upbringing, raising a child on her own while on welfare, and dealing with a domestic situation that left her completely broken financially, Cabezas said she was able to rise above it all through determination and the support of her father.

“Do right by yourself and others in this journey of life, and you may be someone’s vision when they ask to think of someone who demonstrated character, courage and commitment,” she said.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/123280/

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