2017 Rising Star Awards
Associate Vice President, The Ambit Group
- By Derek B. Johnson
- Oct 11, 2017
When the hurricane hunters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration learned in 2016 that they had to leave their longtime home at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., they faced a nearly impossible task.
Losing any member of the 110-person team was considered unacceptable, so the organization needed to find a new home at a nearby airport that had enough space to house nine aircraft and advanced IT assets and equipment. To top it off, the team needed to reconstruct its existing hangar and move everything and everyone in a span of five months, before hurricane season kicked off on June 1, 2017.
Enter Lindsey Averill.
“Lindsey’s mentality — you can’t install that, and you definitely can’t know what a person is made of until they’re dropped in that situation,” NOAA Associate CIO Joseph Baczkowski said.
By all accounts, Averill dove headfirst into the eye of the storm. As the project manager for the Ambit Group, she negotiated with federal, state and local officials before finally settling on a 10-year lease with Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, 50 miles from NOAA’s previous home.
In addition, she oversaw the redesign and remodeling of the hangar, managed over 16 IT procurements and ultimately helped deliver one of the largest relocations in NOAA’s history while spending just 45 percent of the budget earmarked for the project. She even managed to organize a ribbon-cutting ceremony with federal and state officials to celebrate the new home.
Along the way, her work ethic and personal style endeared her to NOAA employees. Baczkowski said her humor and empathy won over frustrated staffers, many of whom were less than thrilled at the prospect of leaving the only base of operations they’d known for two decades.
“You can imagine that there were quite a few cranky people, and I think Lindsey has this incredible ability to put a person at ease, to listen to them,” Baczkowski said. “No one will know every little thing that she did to get this project completed. There was just so much that was done behind the scenes.”
Ultimately, NOAA achieved its retention goal, with all 110 employees deciding to make the move. Averill said her goodbyes to the staff on Sept. 1. A week later, Hurricane Irma passed over their new base in Lakeland, and the hurricane hunters went to work.
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Derek B. Johnson is a former senior staff writer at FCW.