Story by Linda Lambiotte on 09/12/2019ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- In her 38-year federal government career, Gail Fisher never thought she could be the recipient of the U.S. Army Materiel Command Paralegal of the Year Award.
Born and raised in Rock Island, Illinois, Fisher started working at Rock Island Arsenal in August 1981.
Starting out as a receptionist, Fisher later became a secretary and eventually worked her way up to paralegal after attending Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa, where she earned a paralegal certification and discovered her passion for the legal field. The college closed in 2002.
From 1999 to 2006 Fisher worked for the U.S. Army Tank-automotive & Armaments Command Rock Island. During that time, she had the opportunity to pursue a bachelor's degree in business administration at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.
After leaving TACOM, she moved back to her current office in the AMC Legal Center, where she has worked for 31 years.
Fisher mostly deals with protest litigation in her current position.
She is responsible for ensuring agency reports and administrative records for federal court cases are assembled, appropriately marked, indexed, and uploaded and transmitted in a timely manner. She has to exercise her knowledge of procurement law to process and track numerous cases at the same time.
Fisher also provides paralegal support in areas outside protest litigation. This includes the assembling and maintaining of files while providing documents to the Department of Justice and other investigative agencies. She also keeps records of all electronic filings for all investigations, inquiries and litigation, and is able to obtain documents from contracting personnel and various databases.
"It is really challenging but very rewarding, especially when you work with a group of people who you consider being like your own family," Fisher said.
Fisher feels grateful for the group of people she gets to work with daily.
"Working in the same place [the arsenal] for 38 years, a lot of the people I work with are my family too," she said. "I have grown up with quite a few of them, and I like to watch the young ones come in and learn."
Fisher received the award at the AMC Legal Conference held at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, in August.
She was nominated for the award by her senior rater, K Krewer, chief counsel, U.S. Army Sustainment Command.
"All of this is accomplished with dedication and cheerfulness," Krewer stated in the nomination she prepared for Fisher's award. "AMC protest attorneys and Department of Justice attorneys have praised her as fabulous, and extremely hard-working and effective.'"
In order to make sure the nomination would be a surprise to Fisher, Krewer had to find a way to get her to attend the conference. So, she asked her for help, knowing Fisher wouldn't refuse.
Krewer asked her to go to the conference to assist other attendees with the registration process and to run charts for other attorneys' presentations the following days.
Caught completely by surprise, Fisher was presented with the award during a luncheon on Aug. 21.
Fisher says the award is her career's biggest accomplishment.
"I am never out in the front; I am always working behind the scenes and this has definitely been the highlight of my career," she said.
"My husband was my biggest fan, and I am really sad he didn't get to see this moment," Fisher said. After her husband passed away two years ago, she decided to bounce back and use the extra personal time to focus more on her work.
"Ms. Fisher frequently works extra hours and on weekends and holidays to ensure that all filings are accomplished on time," Krewer said. "Her efforts and can-do attitude have not gone unnoticed."
Fisher's previous accomplishments include the Robert J. Parise Team Award in 2011, also presented at the AMC Legal Conference, to the team that worked the Kuwait Base Operations and Security Support Services protest, and the Commanding General Award for Excellence in 2012, presented by Maj. Gen. John Wharton, then commanding general of ASC.
Fisher said she also didn't expect the surprise party that her daughter and co-workers threw for her Sept. 5. About 25 guests, including family and friends, gathered to congratulate her on her career achievement.
"It was very nice. I usually don't like surprises because I don't like to be at the center of attention, but they really did a nice job getting the word out and keeping it quiet, because I really had no clue!" Fisher said.
Fisher said she doesn't have any plans to retire anytime soon.
"You know, everybody says that you'll know when it's time to go, and I just don't feel that yet, so, I really don't have a plan," Fisher said.
Fisher considers herself a team player.
"I work in a great office, there's a lot of camaraderie. There are a lot of people who work behind me and I work behind many other divisions, if we ask each other to do something, we just do it, we all help each other," she said. "I think we are a really good team together."