Huntsville Center’s ISPM director Shippers retires

Huntsville Center Public Affairs
Published March 31, 2015
Valerie Shippers, Huntsville Center's Installation Support and Programs Management director since 2011, retired from federal service during a ceremony at the Center March 30.

Valerie Shippers, Huntsville Center's Installation Support and Programs Management director since 2011, retired from federal service during a ceremony at the Center March 30.

Valerie Shippers, director, Huntsville Center’s Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate, retired from federal service March 30 during a ceremony at the Center.

In her position as director, Shippers was responsible for partnering with geographic districts, centers and agencies to provide life-cycle worldwide support to Army, Department of Defense, and non-DoD agencies in providing maintenance, repair, operation and upgrade services for their facilities and infrastructure. 

The ISPM Directorate manages more than two dozen programs supporting customers throughout the world. 

Shippers took her position at the Center in 2011 coming from the Fort Worth District where she began her Corps career in 2008 as the deputy director for the Fort Bliss, Texas, Program Office. In that position she was responsible for managing an expansion program valued at more than $4 billion.

Prior to her move to Huntsville Center, she was the chief of the Military Branch, Program and Project Management Division, Fort Worth District. Shippers said coming to Huntsville Center from another district she understood the mission at Huntsville Center extended beyond geographic boundaries.  She also said one of her priorities as ISPM director was to ensure transparency with the divisions and districts ISPM works with.

“Huntsville Center works outside their box a lot and since I’ve been here I think we’ve improved those relationships. That doesn’t mean we still don’t work in those folks’ areas of responsibility, but there is a transparency now, and we get a lot of accolades on that, and hopefully I had some influence and helped make a difference in building those relationships with the other Corps organizations,” Shippers said.

“Instead of working in someone’s AOR, we’re really collaborating to give the customers a better product and a better deliverable. Using the resources where we have them is good for the whole Corps,” she said.

One of the greatest challenges Shippers said she encountered here at the Center was “ownership” employees had regarding projects in other divisions and districts and the fear of transparency within that work.

“I think there was an internal resistance to transparency for fear it would have negative impact on the work the Center does but in reality our workload has done nothing but increase over the last few years,” Shippers said.

She said she pushed transparency forward simply by building relationships.

“Now we’re providing monthly project listings to all other Major Subordinate Commands telling them what we’re doing and engaging and being part of project development teams from beginning to end. The Center instituted a strategic engagement plan that assigned GS-15 counterparts to each MSC, and we require in their objectives they do face-to-face visits with those folks. Now we’ve assigned GS-14 branch chiefs to each district, and they are required to make a phone call to the deputy project managers.

“Opening that communication and developing those partnerships is important because once a customer has a face to put with our work, it just works better.”

As the spouse of an Army officer, Shippers has close ties to the local area. From 2001 to 2008, she worked for the Missile Defense Agency at Redstone Arsenal as the chief of Site Activation and Integration. There she supervised essential planning and construction activities that supported the successful deployment of national missile defense initial operating capabilities at various locations in Alaska, California, Colorado, Japan and Greenland.  She also engaged in the siting, planning and initial negotiation efforts with other nations in planning for expansion of operating capabilities. 

Prior to Missile Defense Agency, Shippers worked with Army Directorates of Public works in Germany, Kentucky and Alabama, serving in a variety of positions to include master planning, engineering, environmental, energy, housing and operations. She said the work she did early in her career became very relevant to the work she did with the Corps at Fort Worth District and especially Huntsville Center and ISPM. She said her past experience brought a strong customer perspective and focus to her Huntsville Center responsibilities. 

“Before the Corps, I worked a lot at military installations’ department of public works so that’s the work I knew best,” she said.

"This has really been a terrific job and I like to think I made a difference,” she said.

 Shippers graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering, and she is a certified Project Management Professional.