By all accounts, Donna Sherman, the records manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Middle East District, embodies the quiet professional. The only permanent records management employee when she took charge of the records holding facility eight years ago, she now leads a staff of four employees who manage over 13,600 boxes of paper records for the district.
Sherman is retiring Aug. 27, but she decided against the usual ceremony honoring her more than 30 years of service with the Corps.
“I came in quietly, and I want to leave quietly,” she said.
Though she may have come in quietly, her impact on the facility hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“We’re very impressed with Donna’s management of the records holding area,” said Christie King, Chief, Information Services Branch. “She and her staff have done a great job and it’s not easily done with such a small staff.”
King and two members of the Army Corps of Engineers Enterprise Information Technology’s Enterprise Records Management team visited the facility Aug. 19. They conducted a site visit to offer insight on how to improve the management of the facility but were impressed with what they found.
When Sherman took responsibility for the records holding facility, there were only about 1200 boxes of records. She had to learn to operate a forklift and earn the license to use it. As the facility grew, she created a database for tracking the records and is even able to project future growth so the district can anticipate space needs.
When she unexpectedly received more than 220 unlabeled boxes of records, she took the time to personally sort through each box, identify which contract each record belonged to and properly sort each item.
“She made sure it was done correctly,” King said. “When she was unsure of something, she found us and reached out for assistance or clarification. Sensitive items must be labeled, and she made sure to sort and separate anything with personally identifiable information to make sure it was properly labeled.”
Though King and her team were pleasantly surprised at the organization and management of the records holding facility, they also took the opportunity to discuss the implementation of a new electronic records management system.
Beginning this fall, the district will transition to maintaining records electronically rather than simply maintaining paper copies of files. Though older records won’t necessarily be digitized, users will be able to search the newer electronic records to find information they need.
Though Sherman worked in other jobs during her time with the Corps, including two years in Iraq, she said the records management position has been her favorite.
“When somebody makes a request for a document, it can be like finding a needle in a haystack,” she said. “But finding documentation to help an employee with a project and knowing I helped with their mission is so satisfying. I love being able to identify and corral information so it’s available and usable to support Soldiers in the future.”