News | Nov. 24, 2017

Chief of Staff Roman retires with 36 years of remembrances

By Dianne Ryder

Surrounded by friends and colleagues, Defense Logistics Agency Chief of Staff Renee Roman retired after 36 years of civilian and military reserve service in a ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Nov. 21.

DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams hosted and welcomed special guests, including retired Army Maj. Gen. Hawthorne “Peet” Proctor; Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Johnson, director of Logistics Operations; Christopher Thomas, administrator of the Defense Technical Information Center; retired Vice Adm. Keith Lippert, a former DLA director; and Mae DeVincentis, former DLA vice director.

Williams said he’s known Roman for nearly 15 years and called her a “kindred spirit” in her leadership style and how she treats people. He spoke of her professionalism and phenomenal career path from a GS-5 inventory manager to the ranks of Senior Executive Service.

Roman entered civilian service in 1982. In 1989, she joined the Naval Reserves. During her 21 years as a reservist, she served as commanding officer, supply officer executive officer and battalion training officer, earning several commendation and achievement medals.

Roman earned her first Senior Executive Service position in 2006 at the Office of Personnel Management before returning to DLA five years later. She has served as DLA’s chief of staff since 2013.

Williams also praised Roman’s various achievements, from earning her doctorate in psychology to championing resiliency and being a forward-thinking leader. He said he was honored to serve with her and wished her godspeed as she pursued more time with her family.

In her remarks, Roman thanked Williams, as well as Vice Director Ted Case; Army Col. Carleton Birch, the DLA chaplain; and vocalist Jada Fairrow, along with other esteemed guests, coworkers and friends.

“I am deeply humbled by your presence,” she said. And she thanked her daughter, Shariha Garrett, “for volunteering to be the sole family representative — to witness the fact that I am truly retiring.”

Roman said she isn’t the type who generally appreciates ceremonies but thought it was fitting to commemorate the event.

Among the myriad memories of her career, Roman said she fondly recalls her entry-level job at the Defense Personnel Support Center in Philadelphia.

“What made that job so great was on a daily basis, I touched the customer, the distribution system and the procurement system,” she said. “It gave me an early foundation and a true appreciation for end-to-end processes.”

The chief of staff reflected on several “firsts” in her career: She was among the first civilians to deploy in Operation Desert Storm, was an architect of the agency-level customer satisfaction survey, and was a principal engineer of the DLA Customer Relationship Management Program. Roman noted CRM has received numerous accolades and DLA was acknowledged in a CRM handbook as “an example of a government agency getting it right.”

She said her tenure as director of the Presidential Management Fellows program at OPM stands out as the “scariest and most developmental” time of her life but helped her grow as a leader.

“While I found myself often operating out of my comfort zone, I would not have traded those years for anything,” Roman said.

When she returned to DLA in 2011, it was to serve as executive director for support in DLA Logistics Operations.

“You can take the girl out of DoD, but you can’t take the DoD out of the girl,” Roman joked. “I never could have imagined that I would become DLA’s third chief of staff for the agency. I’ve had the time of my life, and it’s bittersweet to be moving on.”

She also talked about the importance of the “human connection.”

“I know for certain that I wouldn’t be standing here today without the mentorship, support and even challenges by way too many of you to name,” she said, noting that she’s gleaned valuable lessons from her best and worst supervisors.

“I’ve had colleagues who selflessly showed me what real collaboration felt like and how it could benefit all, not just a select few,” she said. “Through the years, I’ve had precious friendships — those with whom I could share my authentic, smart-alecky nature. And they still spoke to me in the morning!”

Roman said she’s been privileged to be a mentor to many who sought her advice and hopes they “pay it forward.”

“Let that be an aspect of your desire to serve and an acknowledgment that we are all in this together,” she said.

Finally, Roman noted the important role her family played in her success and expressed her excitement for retirement plans.

“Not since high school have I had the opportunity to ask myself, ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’” she reflected. “As I have noted, I’ve genuinely enjoyed my career and life up until now — but there’s an optimism about what I will choose to be and do in the future.

“I move into retirement full of the same awe and wonderment with which I started my career, and I can’t wait to see what treasures lie ahead.”