Each year, Fort Detrick recognizes one woman as the "Fort Detrick Woman of the Year." The individual selected for this award must demonstrate outstanding qualities in overall accomplishments at Fort Detrick, contribute to the common welfare of Fort Detrick and local communities, and should embody the totality of excellence in on-the-job and daily interactions with the community.
For 2011, Kathy Berst of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity was named Woman of the Year at the Federal Executive Boards awards ceremony April 17 at the Fort Detrick Communities Activities Center.
"I am honored to receive this award and extremely grateful to the members of the Fort Detrick community who have mentored me over the past 13 years. It's not really fair to call someone "Woman" or "Man of the Year" because no one accomplishes anything alone and the project that led to the nomination for this award was successful because of a dedicated Interagency team," said Berst. "In this project and previous positions here at Fort Detrick, I have been blessed with wonderful colleagues and incredible leaders.."
Berst was selected to be the project manager for the Medical Countermeasures Test and Evaluation Facility, a Presidential initiative to develop drugs and vaccines needed to defend against bio-terrorist attacks. Berst was responsible for developing and implementing a plan for operating the MCMT&E facility, which was projected to cost more than $1.36 billion thru 2025 and consist of roughly 495 thousand square feet.
"Kathy Berst was uniquely qualified for this position," said Col. Russell Coleman, commander of USAMMDA. "She is one of the DoD's leading authorities on the development of medical countermeasures to bio-terrorism."
According to Coleman, Berst assembled a team of stakeholders from key agencies to conduct a comprehensive, 6-month re-evaluation of the building and operating of this facility. Berst and her team took an in-depth look at the cost, size and requirements for this facility and developed a new course of action that not only could meet the requirements of this facility, but also saved the U.S. government roughly $1.2 billion.
"Ms. Berst's ethical integrity and fortitude in questioning a mandate from the highest levels, along with her ability to engage a diverse group of key stakeholders and make an extremely difficult decision is a true reflection of her tremendous leadership skills," said Coleman.
"Leading the MCM-T&E requirements refinement study effort including all key Interagency stakeholders and developing a recommendation that meets the needs of the U.S. Government for this critical capability while potentially saving the Government roughly $1 billion is the greatest accomplishment of my career," said Berst.
In addition to her primary duty as project manager of MCMT&E, Berst also served as the acting director for the Clinical Services Support Division while the CSSD Division Director was on temporary reassignment, as well as volunteering as the 2012 Excellence in Federal Careers Awards Program coordinator.
"Ms. Berst's efforts as a custodian of the public's trust and funds is a great credit to USAMRMC and Fort Detrick," said Coleman.
Berst is also a pillar of the community. She and her husband are small business owners in Charles Town, W.V., where through their business they have provided support to the local Food Bank and Johns Hopkins University.. She is an active member of the community, working with the local Girl Scouts, Church, and professional and alumni associations.
"Even better than winning the award was getting to celebrate this accomplishment with my friends and family, including my biggest supporters and fan club, my amazing husband and my two children," said Berst.