By Terrence Nowlin
Be Your Best: it's not a concept, it's an all-or-nothing proposition for Associate General Counsel Erin Shoudt. She was recognized by her supervisor and a coworker as the embodiment of this PAE company value, due in large part to her love of tackling some of the company's biggest legal challenges.
"I just put 100 percent into everything," she said. "So if I need to read hundreds of emails to create a chronology about an issue in order to decide if there is legal action we might need to pursue—I just throw myself in. I want to get to the bottom of it. It reflects my dedication to achieving favorable results that are in the best interests of the company."
The matters Shoudt gets to the bottom of have been significant. Her steadfast dedication to PAE and its workforce since she joined PAE nearly two years ago has resulted in the savings or recovery of millions of dollars and reinforced the safety and security of employees around the world.
In nominating Shoudt as a Values Champion, General Counsel Whit Cobb highlighted a "critical health issue" she resolved involving strict export requirements for controlled substances. Vital medications were expiring at a PAE program facility medical clinic located on an island in the Bahamas. PAE couldn't replace the needed medications without legal intervention.
"There was no way for the program to import the medicines that the clinic doctor needed to prescribe," Cobb said. "Erin worked relentlessly to find a solution."
Success in this case wasn't optional for Shoudt. She met with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, gained the support of the U.S. embassy in Nassau to issue a diplomatic note to the Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and traveled to the island to learn more about and resolve the issue, Cobb said.
Resolving those kinds of complex legal matters on an international scale is a welcome challenge for Shoudt, who revels in digging through details.
"I love doing investigations and figuring out what happened, when, who said what, and why this or that happened— getting into the granular details and really taking ownership of the matters I'm responsible for diving into the details is essential to developing arguments that put PAE in the best position when facing challenging legal issues." Shoudt said. "And I feel like I do that in all parts of my life. I go 110 percent and have an 'all in' attitude to whatever I set my mind to."
Shoudt shows an unparalleled dedication to her chosen endeavors. Coworkers may be surprised to learn she was a competitive figure skater in her youth who turned up her intensity on the ice by picking up a hockey stick. She eventually became the captain of her college women's ice hockey team and still plays occasionally on leagues in the area.
However, Shoudt is better known for her contributions to women's ice hockey that took place outside of the rink. As a college student, she was named plaintiff in a landmark Title IX lawsuit that established the first women's varsity ice hockey team at Colgate University. This first foray into the legal field is highlighted in a recent profile of Shoudt published in Modern Counsel magazine.
Her dedication extends to more charitable efforts, as well. One of her personal endeavors recently resulted in an unexpected outcome as she volunteered for a local dog rescue.
"I'm a member of the failed foster club," Shoudt said. "I ended up adopting one dog that I was temporarily fostering. Her name is Suzie and she's a 65-pound teddy bear."
Photo by Keely Owendorff Photography