At the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New York District Annual Awards and Picnic, William Slezak, serving the District for over 35 years in a number of key managerial positions, was inducted into the District’s Hall of Fame ⎼ the highest District-level honor ⎼ before an audience of 170 employees and guests and congratulated by District Commander Col. Alexander Young.
Chief of the Coastal and Special Projects Branch Anthony Ciorra, working with Bill on many projects, said: “Bill was a true warrior, blazing a trail for business improvements and mentoring scores of younger colleagues. The legacy of his work and contributions to the Army Corps still bear fruit today ⎼ 10 years after his retirement in 2013.”
Slezak began his career in 1976 as Chief of the then- Construction Permits Section in the Regulatory Branch; he later became Chief of the Navigation Section, leading the Operations and Maintenance Division. He also served as a project manager in the Programs and Project Management Division, advancing to become chief of Civil Works. Bill would spend 14 years in that capacity.
Project Management Pioneer
One of his many accomplishments was selection to the first group of ‘Life-Cycle Project Managers’ in the late 1980s ─ the first Army Corps personnel managing projects from concept to completion ─ planning, design, construction, etc. Prior to this, each lead technical office would manage a project during a particular phase and then turn it over to the next lead office.
Slezak was also an early proponent the Project Management Business Process (phases of a project, roles and responsibilities of Project Delivery Teams and tools for project management) before it was fully embraced by the Army Corps. His steadfast support of PMBP helped it become the standard project-delivery method used today.
Several high-profile projects were completed during Bill’s tenure as Civil Works chief: Arthur Kill deepening projects; Coney Island Coastal Storm Risk Management (New York); Sea Bright to Manasquan Coastal Storm Risk Management and Green Brook Flood Risk Management (New Jersey).
Slezak also volunteered to lead New York’s intern program during the 1990s, mentoring many entry-level employees. A supporter of enhancing the District’s reputation, he joined the Corporate Challenge Running Team and frequently volunteered at outreach events and career fairs.
Bill also led the then- Harbor Programs Branch during a critical time when the 50-ft Harbor Deepening Project for New York-New Jersey Harbor was in negotiations with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and under review by Army Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Instrumental in its successful execution in 2004, over the next decade Slezak managed the project helping the Port of New York and New Jersey become the largest container-ship port on the East Coast and an economic engine throughout the region.
He was also committed to balancing navigation and the economy by restoring the Hudson-Raritan Estuary ─ a system of bays and tidal rivers where the Hudson River and several rivers in New Jersey join the Atlantic Ocean. He initiated and advanced large-scale restoration studies resulting in the Hudson Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan ─ a blueprint for restoring the harbor adopted by many Army Corps partners. These studies laid the foundation for the District's comprehensive restoration program today.
Spending his final year deployed to Afghanistan supporting the broader mission of rebuilding the transportation infrastructure, Bill maintained long-term relationships with partners from New Jersey, New York, The City of New York and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A true professional, his legacy of improvements elevated the District and continue serving the Army Corps today.