Jeanette Fiess shines in ceremony at the White House campus

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - From left, the U.S. Army Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick; Jeanette Fiess, an electrical engineer for USACE, Northwestern Division; and Hon. Jo Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, display the GreenGov Presidential Award-Sustainability Hero plaque that Fiess received at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.The White House Council on Environmental Quality lauded a Lake Oswego High School graduate this month for her sustainability work.

Jeanette Fiess, LOHS class of 1998, received a GreenGov Presidential Award on Nov. 5 at a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus in Washington, D.C.

“Surprised and honored are the two words that come to mind,” Fiess said.

Fiess, now a Seattle resident, was one of eight recipients of the GreenGov awards. The electrical engineer manages the energy and sustainability program for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Northwestern Division. She won in the Sustainability Hero category. She knew she had been nominated, but she didn’t expect to hear her name — she was the first awardee called to the stage.

“I was just sitting there not getting up to go on stage, and (event officials) finally had to say, ‘Go; just go up there,’” she said.

Her mom, Lake Oswego resident Mary DeBlois, was on hand for the ceremony.

“It was a thrill to see it happen, see her receive acknowledgment for her hard work,” DeBlois said.

Fiess’ father, Joe DeBlois, said his daughter’s success started in her hometown.

“Lake Oswego High School provided a very challenging curriculum for Jeanette and helped prepare her for college engineering studies,” Joe DeBlois said. “She’s a hard worker and such a good role model that her little sister, Jessica, is also an engineer.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designs and makes buildings for the U.S. Army, and Fiess increased the number of personnel trained in Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design standards by 70 percent in the USACE’s Northwestern Division.

She developed a training class on energy efficiency, water reduction and waste minimization that the USACE headquarters officials recommended be included in a future national training program. Fiess also spearheaded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ nationwide update of facilities guide specifications to meet federal sustainability requirements.

Fiess, a Seattle Pacific University alumna, has been with USACE for a decade, and she said she knows she’s risen to a leadership position, and she works hard. But, when it came to the award-winning work, she said, she had support.

“Although it was an individual award, I feel it’s reflective of a significant team effort, and it was a huge honor to be able to be the one to represent our organization,” she said.

The awards were created under President Barack Obama’s 2009 Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance. The honor goes to federal civilian and military personnel as well as agency teams, facilities and programs that have implemented creative strategies for reducing energy use and carbon pollution, curbing waste and saving taxpayer money in federal agency operations, according to a press release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District.

Based on nominations from federal employees, a panel of judges, including federal and national sustainability leaders, recommended award finalists such as Fiess to Obama.

The USACE “was really excited to have someone from our organization represented at that level,” Fiess said.

Jillian Daley can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @jilliandaley.

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