Honoring Kate Stevens: driving force behind the modern day EDC

By Brianne M. Bender DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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Lucy “Kate” Stevens, the first director of the Eastern Distribution Center and civilian executive assistant to commander of the then New Cumberland Army Depot, passed away Sept. 16, 2018 near her home town of Pell City, Alabama.

Stevens began her professional career as a civilian employee at the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama. In 1975, Stevens transferred to New Cumberland Army Depot, where she held the position of traffic manager before becoming chief of the Transportation Division and later deputy director for supply.

In 1980, Stevens became the first female depot employee to enter the Army’s Material Acquisition Readiness Executive Development Program.

Stevens was selected as director of the Eastern Distribution Center project at NCAD in 1983, directing the management of a $179 million (approximately $453 million in today’s economy) project to construct the 1.8 million square foot distribution center. The project was successfully completed and fully functional by February 1991 providing support to warfighters around the globe.

“Ms. Stevens was the driving force behind the funding and the congressional approval of the former New Cumberland Army Depot and, now DLA Distribution Susquehanna’s, Eastern Distribution Center,” said DLA Distribution deputy chief of staff Stacy Umstead. “She was a strategic thinker and a true visionary.  Her actions of more than two decades ago set the foundation for Susquehanna to be DLA’s Eastern Strategic Distribution Platform.”

Stevens completed her distinguished career as the Civilian Executive Assistant to the Depot Commander, the highest civilian position at NCAD. She was the first woman to hold the position. Not only did she hold the highest federal pay grade of any female employee at NCAD, but she was also one of the highest grades held by any of the depot employees. 

“Entering my civil-service career right out of high school, I was a bit intimidated by the Federal government working environment.  I observed the actions of the great leaders in the organization in hope that one day I would be able emulate,” explained Umstead. “Ms. Stevens had such a presence and was well respected.  Her knowledge, savvy, and care for mission and people led the organization through ever-changing times.  She was admired by many and today she is remembered by all.” 

Stevens retired from federal civilian service in 1991. She was a member of the executive board of the Keystone Area Boy Scout Council, Federal Executive Association, American Defense Preparedness Association, Dauphin County Bar Association, American Management Association and the Monday Club.

Additionally, Stevens was a member and past president of the New Cumberland Army Depot Women's Club, the first female member of the West Shore Elks Lodge #2257, in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, as well as an honorary Lt. Col. In the Alabama State Militia.

Some of Stevens honors included the Army Traffic Management Command and the Traffic Manager of the Year Awards in 1976 and the Outstanding Federal Executive of the Year award from the Federal Executive Association of Central Pennsylvania in 1979. In August, 1986, she was awarded the Department of the Army Decoration for Meritorious Civilian Service, the Army’s second highest award for a civilian employee.