News Stories

Incredible women of Portland District

Portland District
Published March 8, 2022
I graduated, and I couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting behind a desk all day. I just really wanted to be outside. And to find purpose in my work. I felt like I could really find purpose in conservation efforts.” -- Tessa Rough
Five years ago, Tessa wed her career with her passion for the outdoors and ventured into the world of conservation. Today, she's a park ranger at Bonneville Lock & Dam. 
We couldn't be more proud of all of the incredible women who keep our organization running strong every day. And we couldn't think of anyone who pumps us up more than Tessa.
From summitting mountains to running ultramarathons to leading the ropes rescue team at Bonneville, Tessa embodies confidence and excellence in all that she does.
“I think finding confidence in general as a woman is really hard. But it’s a lot easier when you have so much support around you of other strong, independent females that are going to be there for you no matter what, and will show up for you no matter what—even if you fall flat on your face.”
Thanks to Tessa and to women everywhere. You motivate us. You inspire us. You make our world the best that it can be every day.

I graduated, and I couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting behind a desk all day. I just really wanted to be outside. And to find purpose in my work. I felt like I could really find purpose in conservation efforts.” -- Tessa Rough Five years ago, Tessa wed her career with her passion for the outdoors and ventured into the world of conservation. Today, she's a park ranger at Bonneville Lock & Dam. We couldn't be more proud of all of the incredible women who keep our organization running strong every day. And we couldn't think of anyone who pumps us up more than Tessa. From summitting mountains to running ultramarathons to leading the ropes rescue team at Bonneville, Tessa embodies confidence and excellence in all that she does. “I think finding confidence in general as a woman is really hard. But it’s a lot easier when you have so much support around you of other strong, independent females that are going to be there for you no matter what, and will show up for you no matter what—even if you fall flat on your face.” Thanks to Tessa and to women everywhere. You motivate us. You inspire us. You make our world the best that it can be every day.

Liza Wells, deputy district engineer, Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has had a long and impressive career of “firsts.” In May 2021, Wells became the first woman to serve as deputy district engineer—the most senior civilian at the organization. She was also the first female chief of the district’s Engineering and Construction Division, its Hydraulics and Hydrology Branch, and its Hydraulic Design Section.

Liza Wells, deputy district engineer, Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has had a long and impressive career of “firsts.” In May 2021, Wells became the first woman to serve as deputy district engineer—the most senior civilian at the organization. She was also the first female chief of the district’s Engineering and Construction Division, its Hydraulics and Hydrology Branch, and its Hydraulic Design Section.

Women play a vital role in developing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and this great nation. They serve across all career paths in USACE, as leaders and supervisors, engineers and rangers, scientists, and administrators, to name a few.

The progress made is astonishing when you consider that in 1903, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employed just three female clerks and it wasn’t until World War II that two women broke into engineering positions within the Corps.

Today, 26 percent of the Portland District workforce are women and while all positions in the Army are open to women, only 18 percent of the total Army is female. Those numbers reflect the progress we still need to make.

History isn’t a thing of the past; progress is in action today. In 233 years (since George Washington became our nations’ first President), Kamala Devi Harris is the only female to serve as Vice President of the United States. Additionally, if confirmed, Ketanji Brown Jackson will only be the sixth woman justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, all Supreme Court justices were males until 1981.

These trailblazers, and others, are raising the bar for a better future for all women: your sisters, daughters, nieces, and society at large.

Let’s honor their social, economic, cultural, and political achievements by learning more about the strides they’ve made in overcoming barriers.

Liza Wells, Deputy District Engineer

Liza Wells’ career has been a path of firsts.

She is the first woman to serve as our deputy district engineer—the most senior civilian on our team. She stepped up to fill that position last May. And before that:

✅ First female Engineering and Construction Division chief

✅ First female Hydraulics/Hydrology Branch chief

✅ First female Hydraulics Design Section chief

“I don’t think that my job is any harder or different because I’m the first whatever. I guess I know it means nobody else will have to be the first. And that’s fine with me.”

Since she joined our team in 2009, Liza has been making history. She and all of our incredibly talented and dedicated women, who are integral to our team, are writing our history books every day.

But according to Liza, there are still a lot of places where women’s voices are not heard.

“Part of me says that I think it’s a time for us to make sure we’re listening to women and thinking about how we’ve done that over history—or not—and where our voices are, and how that’s changed. And then part of me thinks, ‘Well, won’t it be nice when we don’t have a separate month for that?’”

Thanks to Liza and to women everywhere. You motivate us. You inspire us. You make our world the best that it can be every day.

 

Tessa Rough, Bonneville Lock & Dam park ranger

"I graduated, and I couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting behind a desk all day. I just really wanted to be outside. And to find purpose in my work. I felt like I could really find purpose in conservation efforts.”

Five years ago, Tessa wed her career with her passion for the outdoors and ventured into the world of conservation. Today, she's a park ranger at Bonneville Lock & Dam.

We couldn't be more proud of all of the incredible women who keep our organization running strong every day. And we couldn't think of anyone who pumps us up more than Tessa.

From summitting mountains to running ultramarathons to leading the ropes rescue team at Bonneville, Tessa embodies confidence and excellence in all that she does.

“I think finding confidence in general as a woman is really hard. But it’s a lot easier when you have so much support around you of other strong, independent females that are going to be there for you no matter what, and will show up for you no matter what—even if you fall flat on your face.”

Thanks to Tessa and to women everywhere. You motivate us. You inspire us. You make our world the best that it can be every day.