(Above) Lt. Col. Gretchen Dietrich recieves the Outstanding Federal Government Alumni Award from last year's winner Clarence Page. (left) Award-winning journalist Leon Harris gives the keynote speech at the lunch - Photos by Chad Bartlett

Alumni in federal government gather at Washington D.C. event to honor outstanding service to the U.S.

Emily Bamforth
September 25, 2014

Ohio University alumni gathered at The National Press Club in Washington D.C. September 18 to reconnect with each other and OU officials and to honor one of their own for outstanding service to the nation.

The annual Federal Government Alumni Luncheon brings together Bobcats who hold positions serving the U.S. government. The event, which is in its third year, includes the presentation of the Outstanding Federal Government Alumni Award. This year’s honor went to 1990 alumna Lt. Col. Gretchen Dietrich.

“I am so honored to receive this award, and greatly humbled to be included in such prestigious company,” Dietrich said. “To be given an award that further connects two of the significant institutions in my life – OU and the Air Force – is amazing.”

Criteria for the award include significant achievement in one’s profession, public service to the United States and service contributions to the public affairs program at Ohio University.

Lt. Col. Dietrich, since being commissioned in 1990, has filled a number of roles in the U.S. Air Force, from commanding the 65th Medical Support Squadron in Portugal to servicing as the organization’s HIPAA office. She now serves as a research analyst to the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, supporting commissioners as they make recommendations regarding military benefits, compensation and retirement.

The event also featured remarks from Ohio University President Roderick McDavis and Voinovich School Founding Dean Mark Weinberg as well as a keynote speech by award-winning journalist Leon Harris.

Harris currently anchors three newscasts for ABC7/WJLA-TV. Previously he worked at CNN, where he co-anchored CNN Live Today and Prime News and hosted CNN Presents and American Stories, picking up numerous awards for coverage of events including the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing and the 2000 presidential election. Harris graduated from Ohio University in 1983 and received an honorary doctorate in 1999.

There were 70 people who attended the luncheon, which was hosted by President McDavis on behalf of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Neal Denton, senior vice president, chief government affairs officer for the YMCA and an OU alumnus, said the event was an opportunity to see old friends.

“It’s a great reminder to see how many Bobcats are living, working and serving as leaders in Washington D.C.,” he said.

Greg Moore, president of the Student Alumni Society, said this year’s luncheon was a “particular treat.

“The news of the great advances taking place at OU under the leadership of President McDavis and his administration at OU has spread to the nation’s capital and is making all of our alumni very proud,” he said.

Denton said he had only one thing that could be improved.

“Next time, let’s bring the Burrito Buggy too,” he joked.