During a career spanning nearly four decades in Federal service, Karyn Coe, USACE North Atlantic Division’s Human Resources strategic advisor, has earned many accolades. She recently added to this list when she was chosen as USACE’s 2021 Human Resources Specialist of the Year. The award is one of only four Human Resources Community of Practice award categories and recognizes HR team members who have distinguished themselves through professional excellence in the previous calendar year. More than three dozen of Coe’s peers across the organization were eligible for the award, but her stellar achievements took her across the finish line.
“NAD is one of the largest divisions and has arguably one of the most diverse and complex programs in the Corps of Engineers,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Tickner, North Atlantic Division commanding general. “It requires a superior knowledge and understanding of all HR processes, which Karyn has. Her sincere focus on people and ensuring we are doing our best for the workforce is contagious and has resonated with the staff throughout the division and its districts.”
Throughout 2020, Coe went above and beyond, serving within three HR positions simultaneously. In addition to her role as strategic advisor, Coe performed all of the duties associated with NAD’s HR officer and specialist positions, which were vacant at the time. Despite the large workload of these positions, Coe exceeded timeline standards for processing personnel actions (including completing 250 award actions), professionally advised staff at all levels, and provided outstanding customer service to all stakeholders.
For the division, Coe is the subject matter expert for each major HR program within the command to include but not limited to staffing/recruitment, awards, promotions, employee actions, overseas tour extensions, direct hire authority, and a plethora of miscellaneous duties. Her knowledge was invaluable amidst the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, where she exhibited her adaptability to meet new demands of the mission and relayed her expertise to committees and project teams.
“Karyn is the most professional and efficient HR specialist I have had the honor of working with in my Federal career—and there are some great ones to compare her to,” said Dave Kirchner, the NAD HR director. “Writing this award justification was very easy because her work ethic, dedication, and great attitude are so reassuring for a supervisor. I constantly receive kudos from military and civilian staff at every level on the outstanding job that she is doing.”
Despite her many accomplishments and leadership endorsements, Coe, ever-true to her work ethic and professional grace, remains humble about the achievement.
“I truly enjoy the work that I do and knowing how my knowledge and expertise can impact the Corps mission has been a true motivator,” she said. “I’ve always believed in ‘People First’ long before I even arrived at the Corps, so that mindset appears to have served me well.”