Assistant secretary for installations, environmental, energy named 2017 Federal Engineer of the Year

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  • By Courtesy Story

John Henderson, P.E., the assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force for installations, environment, and energy, has been named the National Society of Professional Engineers’ 2018 Federal Engineer of the Year.

Henderson, who received the honor during the 39th Annual FEYA Banquet at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Feb. 23, 2018, was nominated for the award while serving as district commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District.

“This is a great honor,” said Henderson, shortly after he was named the winner. “I was aware of some of the other nominations and accomplishments and I’m very humbled and honored to be recognized among such a really well-qualified group of people. I want to say I also accept this award on behalf of the 1300 engineering professionals and project management professionals out of the Omaha District who have done some incredibly amazing things.”

As district commander, Henderson guided his agency during the Dakota Access Pipeline permitting process, which received national attention after Corps lands were occupied by thousands of protestors. While under scrutiny, he consistently demonstrated profound leadership by focusing teammates on the role of the Corps as a neutral party, exercising regulatory authority according to the law and sound science.

Henderson’s team also negotiated a 20-year partnership with the Western States Power Corporation to provide more than $1 billion in private funds for the rehabilitation of federal hydropower infrastructure on the Missouri River. Aside from his problem solving skills, Henderson oversaw 1,300 personnel in 10 states and managed over 2500 projects involving more than $250 billion of critical federal infrastructure and real property, including dams, hydropower plants, levees, navigational channels, and recreational areas.

In his new role as an assistant secretary of the Air Force, Henderson is responsible for the formulation, review and execution of plans, policies, programs and budgets to meet Air Force installation, energy, environment, safety and occupational health objectives worldwide.

Henderson holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He also attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a National Security Studies Fellowship. He is a member of numerous organizations including NSPE, Society of American Military Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Army Engineer Association. Throughout his career and duty locations, Henderson also took time to volunteer with Optimists International, providing input on STEM programs in local schools, and volunteering as a sports coach.