Beth Lagana '80: A Trailblazer in Creating Alternatives
In her work at the Defense Logistics Agency, Beth Lagana constantly strives to solve issues that arise by harnessing her creativity and analytical skills. The programs she's developed and fostered have a substantial impact on her agency, and she thrives in an agency that she says has been an excellent place to work.
Lagana began her legal studies as a trailblazer. As a first-year law student at Ohio State in 1977, she was part of the first substantial wave of women attaining law degrees in the nation. During her career with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which began soon after she finished law school, Beth has pioneered essential agency-wide programs. She saw the initial job opening for a field activity of DLA and once she applied, "I was hired pretty much on the spot; I believe I was the first woman that they hired," she recalled.
Beth, now assigned to the Headquarters Office of Counsel, has held several positions at DLA, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Defense. DLA, a $35.5 billion business, is DOD's largest combat support agency. It provides worldwide logistics support in both peacetime and wartime to U.S. military services, several civilian agencies, and foreign countries. DLA headquarters is at Fort Belvoir in Northern Virginia.
She previously worked both in the United States and abroad dealing with government contracts. In the 1980s, her DLA work brought her to Europe, where she met her husband, an Air Force officer, and began a family. Beth, her husband, and daughter moved back to her hometown of Columbus where she developed and assumed a position as the Fraud Counsel. Within this role, she pursued "fraudulent contractors, such as those who overcharged, those who provided counterfeit material," and other wrongdoers.
Following that experience, Beth developed and implemented the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program (ADR) for DLA, where she currently is Associate General Counsel for Dispute Resolution. She spearheads the ADR Practice Group, which consists of lawyers from coast to coast who implement the programs Beth has created. "I appreciate," Beth explained, "that ADR has become embedded as a way of doing business in our agency. It's grown from a minimal effort to something adopted by the leaders." Beth is proud that her vision has yielded "a high success rate." Still, she finds it challenging to get more litigious-minded parties to consider ADR. She said that "sometimes, a third-party decision maker is necessary, but we try to get those who are averse to ADR to consider (the technique)."
Beth most enjoys program development and implementation. In addition to developing the fraud and ADR positions, Beth formed and is the chair of the Violence in the Workplace/Crisis Response Team for the Defense Supply Center Columbus. Because the DLA field activity is housed on a military installation with approximately 6,000 people, violence is a distinct possibility. The team dedicates itself to "preventing matters, and if they occur, we try to deal with them and minimize any problems that may result. We make people aware that reporting is necessary, and we provide assistance where we can."
Beth applies her innate creativity and analytical skills to the issues that arise within her agency, and she's grateful for her experiences there. "This job has provided a wonderful opportunity to serve my country."