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NAVFAC Diamond: Noted HRO specialist celebrates 60 years supporting U.S. Navy

02 May 2024

From JC Kreidel, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic Public Affairs

NORFOLK – When you hear of someone celebrating 60 years in government service, it’s typically in the context of a retirement ceremony. Colleagues, joined by friends and family, come together to offer thanks, and perhaps share some favorite memories of an illustrious career. This is not one of those stories.
NORFOLK – When you hear of someone celebrating 60 years in government service, it’s typically in the context of a retirement ceremony. Colleagues, joined by friends and family, come together to offer thanks, and perhaps share some favorite memories of an illustrious career. This is not one of those stories.

Sandy Spruill, Supervisory Human Resources Specialist with Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic, certainly got those well wishes April 24, 2024.

Accepting a career service award presented on behalf of the Secretary of the Navy in recognition of her diamond anniversary, she remains a woman on a mission with no intention of retiring anytime soon.

For most NAVFAC Atlantic employees, their start with the command began with much the same introduction. Whether it’s for the core team in Norfolk, or one of the command’s area of operations far-flung elements like Djibouti, Sandy is usually the first person a new employee gets to know.

“It was great words to hear from Sandy, ‘Congratulations, you got the job!’,” said Norm Macgregor, NAVFAC Atlantic total force management director. Going on to tease Sandy for not wanting a big celebration in honor of her work, he added “The appreciation that I show, is what everybody here is trying to show to you because we want to give back to you.”

In addition to her husband, Rudy, and their son, Dean, and daughter-in-law, Diane, she was feted by scores of current colleagues as well as others who have retired from government service. The groundswell of participation in the ceremony speaking to the affection her colleagues feel for Sandy, and admiration of her life’s work.

Right from the start, Sandy was all about the work.

“My father and brother convinced me to take the clerk typist test so she could go to work for the government,” said Sandy. “Within two weeks I was hired and went to work for (the) Navy Regional Finance Center, in Norfolk back in April 1964.”

The Maury High School graduate and Norfolk native would hold the position for three years before transitioning into the human resources field.

She moved steadily through the ranks, first as a staffing clerk and then as a personnel staffing and employee relations specialist, along the way becoming a noted expert in the personnel field. Sandy would go on to serve as a personnel management specialist and then a human resources specialist, with Naval Base Norfolk Civilian Personnel Office which eventually evolved into the Human Resources Office Norfolk.

With the creation of the Department of the Navy Human Resources Service Delivery model, Sandy would eventually promote to the head of staffing for NAVFAC Atlantic, a position she’s held since 2013.

Her length of service, coupled with the variety of commands and positions held, equates to one thing: Sandy is the “go-to” person in human resources.

Being the go-to includes a range of expertise areas, which have benefitted NAVFAC through its own growth over the years. Beyond those coveted “You’re hired” moments, she is credited for helping employees through transitions relating to transfers, realignments, reorganizations, reductions in force and closures.

Call her an HR phenom who knows every regulation, Sandy will correct you and humbly offer her personnel motto, “Customer service is key.”
Exceptionally loyal and dedicated, Sandy is a legend Norfolk.

“Sandy is one of the most customer-oriented employees that I have ever known,” said Rebecca Rowe, human resources director for NAVFAC Atlantic. “She works diligently to get to yes for any challenges, issues, or questions that are brought to her attention. She has had such an impact on her customers and working partners that almost everyone who works for the Department of the Navy in Norfolk knows who she is.”

Rear Adm. Lore Aguayo, commander, NAVFAC Atlantic, credited her as an integral member of the team and presented Sandy with the civilian service award and other tributes from her colleagues.

“You truly inspire all of us, you really are an inspiration,” said Aguayo. With twice the time in service of the Navy as the admiral, Aguayo offered what Sandy told her is the motivation behind six decades of dedication and loyalty.

“It’s the people. This is our extended family, and we don’t want to let our people down,” shared Aguayo. “You take such ownership of making sure that the people are here, who are needed to carry out the mission of our Navy.”

And while husband Rudy—who Sandy has been married to for two years longer than her stellar career—might like her to join him in retirement, there’s still no stopping her. On her team is a group of like-minded professionals, some of whom have even left and returned to NAVFAC Atlantic just to be mentored by the woman they say is tops in the field.

“Sandy's love of what she does on a daily basis is like no other,” said Jennifer Maggi, another human resources specialist at NAVFAC Atlantic. “She is passionate about each and every action she puts in, every tentative job offer she makes and wants to meet everyone she hires. I cannot begin to tell you how many conversations I've had with people over the years who, when I mention Sandy's name, will pipe up and say she hired them when they started 15 years ago or people who are retiring that say Sandy hired them 40 years ago!”

The proof of that is in every division or directorate within NAVFAC Atlantic, to include Total Force itself.

Shaun Harris, a labor employee relations specialist said, “She tracked me down with a tentative job offer on a Saturday while I was vacationing on the Outer Banks!”

She’s also made the call to those who have careers almost as long as hers.

“Sandy on-boarded me as a (high school) student-aid 45 years ago,” said Traci Chalmers, manpower program manager with the command. “Throughout my civil service journey, Sandy and I have constantly crossed paths. She holds a wealth of HRO knowledge and NAVFAC historical reference between those ears. Her candor is unmatched and her ability to endure is insurmountable.”

Most everyone has a Sandy story. And it looks like many more will one day have a story of their own—Rudy has been retired for nearly 20 years, Sandy hopes to be in human resources for another 10 years, building the next generation of NAVFAC.

When asked what is next in her career, Sandy answered in the very Sandy-est of ways: “Back to work!”
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