District Digest News Stories

Nashville District participates in Tennessee State University Career Fair

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Sept. 21, 2021
Chief of the Regulatory Division Todd Tillinger talks with TSU Senior KeAnna Dakwa about the career possibilities within USACE.

Chief of the Regulatory Division Todd Tillinger talks with TSU Senior KeAnna Dakwa about the career possibilities within USACE.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 20, 2021) –In the workplace, diversity is a key asset for success. Organizations that make diversity of background, experience, thought, and culture a priority often create an inclusive environment with increased productivity.

As an organization, the Corps of Engineers actively works to recruit, hire, and retain women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities who have a background in science, technology, engineering, and math. To contribute to this mission and achieve these goals, the Nashville District participates in career fairs hosted by Tennessee State University and other historically black colleges and universities.

The Pew Research Center published a report in April 2021 detailing gender, racial and ethnic diversity in STEM professions throughout the United States. From 2017 to 2019, the study reports “black professionals made up only nine percent of STEM workers in the United States – lower than their eleven percent share of the overall U.S. workforce.” 

Calandra “Cali” Wilson, Equal Opportunity specialist/Special Emphasis Programs manager for the Nashville District, actively works to ensure the Nashville District has a diverse and inclusive workforce but also a diverse and inclusive pool of applicants to consider.

Wilson explains, “the purpose of participating is to engage with our community and to make a presence in our partnering HBCU educational institutions with hopes of expanding our organization’s diversity pool with the finest students in our community.”

Due to continuing covid -19 restrictions limiting the number of recruiters allowed to participate, the Nashville District sent two representatives: Chief of the Business Integration Office Danita Jones and Chief of the Regulatory Division Todd Tillinger. 

Danita Jones, a TSU alumni, attended the career fair intent on recruiting for a position in business administration. For this TSU alumni, “it feels great to be here because I’m proud of TSU. TSU provided me an excellent education and launched me off into a pretty successful career.” Jones is confident she will find the talent she is looking for since, [TSU] “students are prepared; smart and very capable.”

The word “diversity” can have many meanings to many people. To Jones, it means having people from different backgrounds, who attended different schools… “it’s just having people with different thoughts and ideas, life experiences, and backgrounds who may not look like you.” In her opinion, she thinks organizations are more effective when their talent comes from a diverse group of people.

She’s not alone in her thoughts. Tillinger, explained why diversity is crucial. “It is important that the people who are protecting the resources and allowing permits and projects to be granted are reflective of the community they serve and partner with.”

Tillinger attended to recruit a student intern and a recent graduate to fill open positions in the regulatory division. Whenever he attends any career fair, he scouts for students who have good communication skills, are engaging and can work well with others. “I’m less concerned with the degree they have, if they’re successful in getting any degree, I know they can meet that requirement; what I need is a quick thinker and a good communicator.”

Recognizing progress, but acknowledging the work still left to do, Tillinger states, “While I am proud of the mix of ages and the mix of men and women, I am not proud of our monochromaticity.”  He explains his interest in recruiting at TSU, “I would like to see the regulatory division look more like the population of Nashville, and that means casting the same wide net, but in different waters.”

The career fair attracted many interested young engineers and business professionals like KeAnna Dakwa, a senior at TSU, majoring in Civil Engineering. She walked into the career fair having an open mind and seeking opportunities. After discussing her skills with Tillinger and learning about openings in the regulatory division, she confessed, “I honestly didn’t consider the Corps of Engineers because I did want to join the Army. After talking to y’all, I can clearly see the Nashville District has a lot of opportunities for me!”

Christopher Buford, a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering, excitedly left his resume. “I was introduced to the Nashville District in 2019 at a career fair. I saw the strong moral values of the Corps and all the work they do around the state, and I wanted to be a part of this organization.”


(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also follow Kentucky Lock on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kentyckylock.)

Fry , R., Kennedy, B., & Funk , C. (2021, April 1). STEM Jobs See Uneven Progress in Increasing Gender, Racial and Ethnic Diversity. Pew Research Center . Retrieved September 19, 2021, from https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2021/04/01/stem-jobs-see-uneven-progress-in-increasing-gender-racial-and-ethnic-diversity/.