Growing up on the outskirts of Baltimore City, Harvey Johnson has always had an appreciation for what the city has to offer. You could even say Baltimore runs through Johnson’s heart and soul.
From his love of all Baltimore sports teams and his exploration of the city’s many historical neighborhoods, to his longtime dedication to Baltimore District, Johnson has never wavered in his commitment to Charm City and the district.
Now, after serving 30 years in numerous positions in Baltimore District’s Engineering Division, Johnson is heading into retirement.
Johnson began his federal career in 1985 working as a CO-OP student at Fort Meade while he was pursuing his mechanical engineering degree at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. After graduating with his degree in 1986 he worked at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Silver Spring, Md. Then in 1992, Johnson said he “lucked out” when a coworker suggested he call a Baltimore District employee to inquire about a job. The next day Johnson was in Baltimore District’s Headquarters being interviewed by some now familiar faces, Ron Maj, Ed Musial, John Vogel, Herb Eichler and Bill Wilson.
“When I got the job with the Corps I was excited to be coming back home to the city I grew up in,” Johnson said. “I’m very passionate about Baltimore and what we do here.”
Johnson began his career in Baltimore District as a design manager in Military Programs, overseeing installation work. He then quickly switched to the Support for Others Section where he says he had the pleasure of working on projects like the Kennedy Center National Symphony Hall renovation, Pentagon renovations and the moving of the Corps’ Headquarters to the GAO building in Washington D.C.
“There’s so many more opportunities here than anywhere else,” Johnson said. “I mean how often do you get a chance to work on jobs like the Kennedy Center?”
Then around 2000, Johnson became the first acting chief of the newly re-formed Civil Works Branch and in 2003 was named the chief, which he believes provided a turning point for his career. He realized he had to learn from scratch how to run a branch that had not existed in its current form in Engineering Division, all while working on very public Corps projects including levee systems, Poplar Island, dams and more.
Johnson became very familiar with the many projects that are closely intertwined with Operations Division while chief of Civil Works Branch until August 2016 when Johnson switched things up and became Military Design Branch chief.
According to his Strengths Quest quiz results, Johnson’s unsurprising top strength is empathy, which he leads with above all. Showing care for his employees and developing connections with them, including the many employees located in the field, is a top priority for Johnson as he settles into his new role.
“I love the concept of we can all gain a lot of progress with each other if we can be a little more empathetic,” Johnson said. “People will amaze you with what they’re able to accomplish and they’ll do great things for you.”
Johnson’s need for connections with employees and empathetic outlook for leading previously earned him the Federal Executive Board Silver Supervisor of the Year in 2016.
Most recently, Johnson has been serving as the project manager for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing replacement project in Beltsville, Md. This replacement effort includes environmental assessments and design and construction oversight for the Main facility and supporting structures, parking and stormwater management facilities, roadway access and improvements, utility connections, security systems and access control.
Johnson’s retirement ceremony was held Jan. 13, 2022 where he was pinned by Baltimore District Commander, Col. Estee S. Pinchasin with the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal and presented with his retirement certificate after over 36 years of federal service.