Earlier this year, Erica Labeste, chief, Real Estate and Real Property Support Branch for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, received the New York City Federal Executive Board’s (FEB) Excellence in Workforce Development Award recognizing her outstanding accomplishments in professional development. For her efforts, she received a glass eagle and certificate at a reception in Lower Manhattan during Public Service Recognition Week. The FEB provides a forum for federal agency collaboration with 28 offices across the U.S.
Importance of Mentoring
In an interview, Erica shared her perspective about professional development, noting, “I think when people have opportunities to enter into a healthy mentorship throughout their career, they have a better chance of achieving their goals,” indicating it helps strengthen the workforce and allows for better workplace transitions.
In a letter of recommendation, Noreen Dresser, chief, Real Estate Division, said, “Ms. Labeste is an active advocate for knowledge-based decisions, making employee training available throughout the Real Estate Division,” adding, “As an active mentor, she has enhanced on-the-job training for years.”
Professional Organization’s Day
Spearheading Professional Organization’s Day for District staff was a major undertaking. Ms. Labeste invited over 40 professional organizations representing a wide range of careers, and collaborated with the STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), inviting college students and recent graduates. The event helped employees better understand the importance of professional development and connecting with industry peers. Afterwards, she was encouraged by positive feedback from the FEB — employees requested the event continue/expand in the future.
Ms. Labeste said participating in the Emerging Leaders Development Program (ELDP) — an initiative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters (D.C.) helping employees develop management skills through interaction with leadership — exposed her to growth potential within the Corps. To that end, Erica was recently selected to join the Local Government Liaison National Cadre as a first responder for disasters. Once on site, she’s responsible for researching and coordinating key points of contact in federal, state and local agencies to aid recovery efforts.
Real Estate Management
Currently she oversees the management and disposal of property at military installations within the District’s area of responsibility — the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (NY), Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (NJ), Fort Monmouth (NJ) and others — helping commanders optimize the management and use of space for over 300 leases, licenses and permits. Erica provides similar counsel for project development teams for Hurricane Sandy, civil works, and the Program Planning and Management Division environmental mission.
In an interview, Ms. Labeste, with nearly 10 years’ experience in the District, said the most challenging part of her job is balancing the diversity of the real estate program — including civil, Hurricane Sandy and military operations — each with different regulations and processes. She helps all Corps of Engineers’ customers understand how Real Estate’s knowledge and expertise can benefit their work.
Prior to her management responsibilities, Erica served as a real estate specialist in the District for over nine years. She grew up in the Bronx, NY and holds a B.S. in finance from Penn State University. Outside work she spends most of her time raising her two daughters, ages 2 and 6, and participating in family activities.