Dr. Bory Steinberg, a water resources expert who served 35 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, passed away recently. Bory was a member of the Corps’ Senior Executive Service for much of his career and he was widely respected within the Corps. Many of us on the Dawson team worked extensively with Bory, valuing him as an advisor and a friend.
Our colleague Doug Lamont, formerly Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) and a longtime colleague of Bory, delivered the graveside eulogy on his long and remarkable career.
Eulogy for Bory Steinberg
"I had the privilege of knowing Bory for almost 40 years. It was a true honor to work for him and with him. He was to me, and I’m sure to many of you as well, a role model, a mentor, and a close friend. He was an icon in the Corps of Engineers and was a one-of-a-kind leader and boss at a landmark point of change in the Corps history.
"Without a doubt, he was a kind gentleman of high ethical and moral character. A man of enormous intellect, he had an innate photographic memory coupled with a voracious capability to distill complex and disparate information into quantifiable and easily understood terms. You had to know your stuff to even try to keep up with him, whether it was numbers or complex policy issues.
"He was uniquely qualified and did an incredible job in leading 3 separate divisions in the Corps Headquarters Civil Works Directorate: Programs Division, Policy Review & Initiatives Division, and Project Management Division.
"In these roles he demonstrated his immense leadership talent as he led us into a new era of cost-shared studies and projects working closely with former Chief of Engineers Vald Heiberg and Hank Hatch and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Robert Dawson.
"He was also at the leadership helm at another pivotal point in the Corps history, working with Assistant Secretary of the Army Robert Page and former Chief of Engineers Hank Hatch and Art Williams in implementing Project Management into the culture and setting up the structure throughout the Corps Divisions and Districts. The senior civilian and military leaders were, as a result, focused on Project and Programs Management and a commitment to moving projects forward.
"I am so honored to have worked with Bory in those 3 Headquarters Divisions.
"When I first met him, I was an Area Engineer working in Central Programs Branch supporting the Lower Mississippi Valley Division as it was known at the time.
"I quickly noticed the command and respect he had with not only senior Corps military officers and civilian leadership inside the Corps, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and the Administration. Also on the Hill with the powerful Appropriations subcommittees and their senior staff. They worked together and knew how to get things done.
"It was a challenging time of change with high expectations. Through his leadership and vision, the Corps to this day, continues advancing partnerships with cost-sharing sponsors and the project management initiatives he pioneered.
"I am deeply indebted to him for his leadership and mentorship and I will also say, to those like me, he provided the opportunities to hone our skills in public service as well as the opportunity to develop our careers.
"I told some colleagues recently, he brought out the best in people and pointed us in the right direction. In my case, and I know many others as well, he showed confidence in our abilities and a true belief that with commitment and understanding of the issues, we could work together to get the job done – whether it be Water Resources Development Act legislation, policy guidance, development of project partnership agreements, development of budgets and programs, or most importantly, project delivery.
"He left an indelible mark on Corps history and a passionate legacy of commitment to public service and doing the right thing.
Without a doubt, he brought out the best in people and that had a profound effect on getting results. He set a high bar for performance, challenged us, taught us, and provided an unmistakable passion and vision to lead the Corps through major changes that continue to this day to be the backbone of the Corps Civil Works program.
He got us to perform our best by articulating the challenges, charting the way forward, and providing the support and confidence we needed to achieve the outcomes he envisioned.
Looking back, many of us would not be where we were in our careers then, or even where we are today, if it was not for Bory’s vision, leadership, guidance, friendship and commitment to work together.
He provided a solid and lasting foundation for the Corps Civil Works program as it is today – leading major changes in the way the Corps conducts its business.
He will be truly missed but his can-do legacy will live on through each and every one of us, especially through the Corps and its extended family of Federal and non-Federal partners.
May he rest in peace knowing that he made such a difference to so many of us proud to have worked with him and called him our friend."
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dawson & Associates.