Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Violence Prevention

In Norfolk, Gloria Morales works as a liaison for the Hispanic community, developing community-based violence prevention programs and other materials to educate the Latino population there.

Born and raised in Colombia, Ms. Morales immigrated to the United States in 1999, searching for a better life. Three years later, she became a caseworker for the faith-based non-profit Refugee and Resettlement Organization in Richmond. While there, she helped Cuban refugees assimilate into the American culture and was subsequently promoted to program coordinator.

Since then, she has been working with public safety officials to improve communication and prevent misunderstandings with the Hispanic community.

In 2006, Ms. Morales was hired as the coordinator of the Network for Latino People (NFLP), a community coalition comprised of 29 member organizations. As a result of her efforts, the coalition has doubled in size and includes 59 law enforcement, immigration, legal, civic, and school agencies and officials working to identify and support the needs of the Spanish-speaking population in Williamsburg, Virginia.

She recently established NFLP’s Community and Medical Interpretation Service as a viable and sustainable program. As a result, the NFLP has been awarded an additional $20,000 by the Williamsburg Community Health Foundation, a 20 percent increase in program support from previous years.

Through her work and leadership, Ms. Morales remains accessible to and committed to meeting the needs of the Latino community. In August 2010, she achieved her 10-year dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.

Whistleblower

2010 Director’s Community Leadership Awards

Dr. Steven Bander knew he would lose his career and would have to pay upfront lawyer fees and costs when he became a whistle blower in April 2001. What he didn’t know was whether his case would prevail or how it would affect his family. But as the chief medical officer for Gambro Healthcare U.S., the world’s third-largest supplier of kidney dialysis services, he knew he had to do what was right.

In an agreement three-and-a-half years later, Gambro paid $350 million in civil and criminal penalties to settle claims it defrauded Medicare and Medicaid out of hundreds of millions of dollars. This agreement, made in December 2004, remains the largest fraud settlement in Missouri history and, at the time, was the sixth largest in the country.

Under the federal whistle-blower law, Dr. Bander received a $56 million share of the settlement. To this day, Dr. Bander lives in the same house. He has donated more than 20 percent of his money, after legal fees, to establish a charitable foundation that focuses on business ethics in health care.

Dr. Bander’s philanthropy includes donating to St. Louis University in 2006 to form The Bander Center for Medical Business Ethics. Dr. Bander has also donated to Washington University (St. Louis) to establish the Bander Business Ethics in Medical Research Funding Program.

Spin-offs from this case include a lawsuit against Renal Care Group, which was ordered to pay more than $19 million for similar allegations. The judge in the case is now considering whether to award the government additional damages and penalties.

Honoring Community Leadership

2010 Director’s Community Leadership Awards

Eric Idehen serves as vice president and diversity consultant at Wells Fargo Bank in Des Moines, Iowa, a position that allows him to draw from his global life experience and language skills. Under his direction, the bank has developed mentoring programs and increased diversity recruiting programs and activities.

Mr. Idehen is currently a board member of the Iowa Council of Understanding and has been recognized for his volunteer work with immigrants settling in Iowa. He plays a key role on the board of the local Red Cross, is an active member of the Alianza-Latino Business Association and the Iowa Chinese Association, and was honored as the 2009 recipient of the Dr. David Jiagian Wang Award for Humanity.

In 2009, Mr. Idehen graduated from the first FBI Citizens’ Academy in the state of Iowa and has remained diligent in the creation of the Citizens’ Academy Alumni Association for the Omaha Division, serving on the executive board.

Mr. Idehen moved from Nigeria to Iowa 10 years ago to provide a better life for his family and has devoted himself to giving back to the community. In addition to his contributions in Iowa, he and his wife have also founded the Cornerstone of Hope, an orphanage in the heart of Benin City, Nigeria.

Improving Communities

Community leadership honored in Washington D.C.

In Phoenix, the Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, Inc., is providing a unique and educational prevention program for underage females who have been sexually exploited and are incarcerated at the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections’ Black Canyon School.

As the result of a partnership formed through the Innocence Lost Phoenix Initiative, the Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus-Pine Council partnered with the Department of Juvenile Corrections to address a population of prostituted children.

In an effort to reach young girls, the Arizona Cactus-Pine Council created the Adelante Jovencitas (Young Women Moving Forward) program, a mentorship effort intended to help “build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.”

The Girl Scouts collaborated with other agencies and Arizona State University’s College of Education and Service Learning program in the formation of Adelante Jovencitas, which provides girls the tools they need to solve problems relating to education, health, homelessness, violence and crime, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, and gang violence.

Adelante Jovencitas has three primary components, including a non-traditional Girl Scout program that operates within the juvenile corrections systems and group homes; a transitional mentoring program that works with girls before and after their release; and a community troop that serves girls from the community and various justice system housing placements.

The Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, Inc. is instrumental in working alongside governmental organizations to combat the sexual exploitation of young females.

2010 Director’s Community Leadership Awards

As the director of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, Dr. Mallory O’Brien has led its development, implementation, and evaluation since 2004. She is a trained epidemiologist and has worked in the field of violent injury prevention for the past 15 years.

In 1994, she began her work developing, implementing, and evaluating the Firearm Injury Reporting System, a regional tracking system for firearm deaths, at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

She later went on to continue her work and expand it to the national level as the associate director of the National Violent Injury Statistics System at Harvard University’s Injury Control Research Center.

Dr. O’Brien has atken a leadership role as a consultant to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services - Wisconsin Violent Death Reporting System. She is currently a member of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the advisory committee of the Safe Streets Initiative, and the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Crime Victim Council.

Dr. O’Brien is currently a researcher with the Terry Sanford Institute for Public Policy at Duke University.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2010 Director’s Community Leadership Awards

In Philadelphia, Matthew Chea is known for his community leadership work and being a partner of the FBI.

An active member of the Philadelphia Division’s Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee, Mr. Chea has been instrumental in contributing relevant topics for discussion. He also developed and spearheads the Cambodian American Professionals Association—a group that promotes giving back to the community and involvement among young professionals.

Statistics show that few Cambodian Americans graduate from college and many don’t earn a high school diploma. Because of a lack of education, some are stuck in a cycle of poverty. Through his work with the Cambodian American Professionals Association, Mr. Chea has recently raised $2,000 for a scholarship to encourage Cambodian students to go to college. The recipient of the scholarship will receive mentorship while attending college.

Mr. Chea works as a victim/witness coordinator in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. Because he is fluent in multiple languages, he also often serves as an advocate for crime victims of diverse populations.

He also works as a volunteer and is an active member of the Philadelphia Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition and Interpersonal Violence Against Asian Communities Task Force.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2010 Director’s Community Leadership Awards

Susan M. Seligman, New Mexico Anti-Defamation League (ADL) regional director, has spent 21 years working to ensure freedom from prejudice and discrimination. Throughout her career, she has been dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred through education, legislation, law enforcement, and the media.

Under her leadership, the ADL has been instrumental in passing anti-terrorist and hate crime state legislation. As one of the state’s experts on domestic terrorism, she is a strong supporter of the FBI and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Through her partnership with the Bureau, she has provided hate crime training opportunities for executive management and personnel. In 2008, she helped expand the FBI’s reach through the ADL’s annual national meeting, where former Deputy Director John S. Pistole was the keynote speaker.

After graduating from the FBI’s Citizens’ Academy in 2007, Ms. Seligman volunteered to establish the local FBI Citizens’ Academy Alumni Association chapter and attended the first national FBI Citizens’ Academy Alumni Association leadership conference. Since the chapter’s inception, she has served a three-year presidential term and currently sits on the board of directors. She is also a member of the Albuquerque Division’s Community Engagement Council.

2010 Director’s Community Leadership Awards

In Dallas, Christina Yampanis is devoted to bringing community involvement to law enforcement by encouraging crime awareness, prevention, and education. Through her work with the North Texas Crime Commission and other volunteer efforts, she has effectively promoted community awareness and the FBI.

Ms. Yampanis is a participant in the Dallas Mayor’s Council on Morals and Values conference and the Mayor’s Back to School Fair for underprivileged children, and is involved with the Denton State School residential facility for adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities. She volunteers monthly at the Austin Street Homeless Shelter and is the co-chair for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program, which provides Christmas presents to needy children and the elderly.

By working with the North Texas Crime Commission, she has also helped further law enforcement awareness. The North Texas Crime Commission promotes community involvement in supporting federal, state, and local law enforcement. The commission works to keep communities safe by increasing communication between the arenas of law enforcement, business, education, government, the media, and all citizens. The cooperative, comprehensive effort involves concerned citizens like Ms. Yampanis and highlights the motto, “Fighting Crime is Everyone’s Business.”

2010 Director’s Community Leadership Awards

In Boston, educational advocate Patricia Spence works tirelessly to ensure that all children have access to quality educational experiences.

From booster-seat safety programs and youth-driven newspapers to involving children in nature exploration trips and home reading programs, Ms. Spence utilizes her resources for the educational advancement of students.

Working with both public and independent schools, corporations, churches, and the community, she draws upon her more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience and 10 years of media experience to expand educational options for youth.

For the past six years, she has spearheaded the “They Made It, So Can I” program, aimed at fifth-grade students. In collaboration with the FBI’s Community Outreach Program, Ms. Spence’s initiative presents a diverse speaker series to students in the hope that they will carry seeds of empowerment to middle school and beyond.

Ms. Spence also works for the Ellison Parks Early Education School as the home and school literacy coordinator. She has implemented several programs in this position, including the Ellison Parks Home Reading Program, Reading with Friends, My Reading Buddy, Men’s Night Out and Women’s Night Out, Family Fun Days, and empowerment seminars.

In addition, Ms. Spence serves as an educational consultant for Unity First Magazine and helped develop the Diversity in Education fall issue, which is now in its sixth year. Working with more than 50 independent schools annually, she shares open house and diversity success stories.

Ms. Spence also volunteers with the Boston Public Schools to further the mission of educational options for youth.

Reducing Total Ownership Costs is Focus for SPAWAR San Diego Leadership

By Steven A. Davis, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Space and Naval Warfare Systems (SPAWAR) Command leadership, and San Diego defense industry executives assembled to discuss key acquisition issues at the Anti-Submarine Warfare Command's Admiral Kidd Club March 24.

The discussion attracted nearly 300 people and centered around the rapid fielding of cyber/information technology capabilities, and reducing costs of systems throughout their lifecycles. San Diego Daily Transcript Editor George Chamberlain served as the event's moderator.

The panel members, who represented more than 200 years of federal acquisition and defense industry experience, engaged in candid conversation on the challenges associated with the current acquisition environment.

"We have to look closely at total ownership costs for individual systems," said SPAWAR Commander Rear Adm. Patrick Brady. "But we also have to focus on operational excellence and total capability that allows for maximum deployment of our platforms."

Total ownership cost refers to the price tag associated with developing, deploying, modernizing and sustaining a system throughout its life cycle. Today's budget climate demands that SPAWAR and the Navy acquisition community closely examine acquisition strategies, training and installation plans to minimize these costs.

"We're developing a strong business case for long-term savings," explained Brady. "This requires us to work closely with the other systems commands and program executive offices to ensure our acquisition strategy for systems on new platforms is correct up front."

One way this goal can be accomplished is through the reduction of legacy systems. The Navy Multiband Terminal is being introduced to the fleet to improve satellite communications while streamlining the number of terminals (two to one) and antenna systems (three to one).

"This consolidated approach will significantly minimize failure rates, and reduce training burden, sustainment costs and the quantity of terminals being procured," said Rear Adm. Jerry Burroughs, program executive office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I).

In addition to these prevalent issues, the panel members also pondered inherent acquisition issues, including upfront costs associated with systems development versus long-term operational and sustainment costs. Systems development and operations/maintenance funds come from different funding sources, which complicates how lifecycle costs are calculated.

The panel also addressed the necessity for IT systems acquisition improvement. Today's defense acquisition model is platform-focused, meaning it takes years for a program to get through the requirements process, develop a design and then install the system on platforms. This approach is appropriate for a ship or an airplane that needs to last decades, but not for IT systems that require agility and continuous software upgrades.

SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific Commanding Officer Capt. Joe Beel noted the command has addressed the IT issue with the development of the Navy's next generation tactical afloat network. The design for the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services, or CANES, is analogous to today's smart phones that feature common core services on a single hardware platform. Once the CANES hardware is installed on ships, system upgrades can be pushed rapidly and at minimal cost.

"We're developing systems that better focus on the fleet operator," said Beel. "Reducing the complexity of systems also reduces the costs associated with training and maintenance."

As the Information Dominance systems command, SPAWAR is increasingly focusing on responding to emerging, high priority cyber issues. This requires close coordination with Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet, which is responsible for the defense of Navy networks. Although Navy-wide cyber issues are typically unbudgeted and difficult to predict, "We are better positioned now than ever before to respond quickly to these kind of challenges," said Brady.

While panel members discussed a number of ways in which capabilities can be more quickly delivered to the fleet, a number of recent success stories emerged regarding the rapid response in Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Terry Simpson, PEO C4I's principal deputy for intelligence, discussed how the Deployable Joint Command and Control modules, which provide a mobile, expeditionary command and control capability, have been deployed to help coordinate the disaster relief efforts in Japan.

Beel noted that several SPAWAR capabilities have been rapidly adapted and deployed for humanitarian assistance efforts, such as counter improvised explosive device robots – originally designed for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan – that are being used for disaster relief.

SPAWAR also adapted a command and control combat network to be used by naval aircraft operating from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). The network allows E2-C "Hawkeye" aircraft to better coordinate search and rescue operations, relay real-time data to operational assets and assist first responders on the ground.

Monday, March 28, 2011

2010 Director’s Community Leadership Award

In a Washington, D.C. ceremony Friday at FBI Headquarters, Director Robert S. Mueller, III recognized the recipients of the 2010 Director's Community Leadership Award. These leaders, selected by their area FBI field office, have demonstrated outstanding contributions to their local communities through community service.

Included among those recognized was Mrs. Linda J. Walker, who was nominated by the FBI Minneapolis Field Office. She is the mother of Dru Sjodin who, at age 22, was kidnapped from a shopping mall parking lot in North Dakota in November 2003. Dru's body was discovered near Crookston, Minnesota nearly five months later. Her convicted killer, a sex offender, had been released from custody after serving 23 years for attempted kidnapping and assault shortly before Dru was kidnapped. He is currently on federal death row. Mrs. Walker has become a tireless advocate of women and children by speaking out against violence against them. She travels throughout the country to speak to college students, law enforcement, and the media in order to raise awareness and rally support for legislation. In 2004, Senator Byron Dorgen and Representative Earl Pomeroy, both of North Dakota, sponsored Dru's Law in Congress to create a National Sex Offender's Database. Mrs. Walker was relentless in her effort to bring the proposed legislation to the attention of the public and every member of Congress. She was present at the White House on July 26, 2006, when President Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act into law, legislation that included Dru's Law.

Dru's Law requires convicted child molesters to be listed on a national Internet database and face a felony charge for failing to update their whereabouts. It is the first national online database that allows the public to search for registered sex offenders by zip code. It assists law enforcement in locating more than 100,000 unaccounted for sex offenders, calls for harsh federal sentences for sexually assaulting children, and allows for the imposition of the death penalty if a victim is murdered.

Mrs. Walker, along with other parents whom she met in Washington, D.C. while lobbying for the Adam Walsh Act, formed the Surviving Parents Coalition (SPC). The mission of the SPC is to advocate for legislation that will aid in the prevention of crimes against children and young adults; especially child sex abuse, sexual assault, exploitation, abduction, and murder.

Ralph S. Boelter, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Minneapolis office said, "It is the hope of Linda and the FBI that her important work and her tireless effort , done in her daughter's memory, will result in greater protection for our most vulnerable citizens and make our communities safer for everyone. Linda's determination was the essential ingredient to what child advocates have called the most sweeping sex offender legislation to target pedophiles in years."

James F. Yacone Named Special Agent in Charge of Denver Field Office

Director Robert S. Mueller, III has named James F. Yacone as the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Denver Division. Mr. Yacone, keeping up with strong tradition of leadership, has most recently served as a section chief in the Critical Incident Response Group, which involved direct management and oversight of the FBI’s national tactical program, crisis negotiation program, and a variety of mobility and crisis response assets.

A New York native, Mr. Yacone served eight years in the U.S. Army and is a decorated combat veteran. He joined the FBI in 1995 as a special agent.

Mr. Yacone was first assigned to the Philadelphia Division, where he investigated violent drug trafficking organizations, organized crime, and financial institution fraud. He was later selected to serve with the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) as a member of the Hostage Rescue Team. During his tenure with the CIRG, Mr. Yacone was promoted to supervisory special agent and, later, unit chief, deploying to multiple critical incidents and major investigations around the world in support of the global war on terrorism.

In 2006, Mr. Yacone was appointed as the chief of the FBI’s Aviation and Surveillance Branch. Most notably, he implemented a strategic aircraft replacement plan to upgrade and standardize the FBI’s diverse fleet of airplanes and helicopters.

Mr. Yacone served as an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI Richmond Division’s National Security Branch from 2007 to 2009. In addition to the counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and intelligence programs, he also implemented the FBI’s new threat-based intelligence process for two FBI field divisions. Concurrently, Mr. Yacone was selected by Director Mueller to lead a strategic merger to consolidate a large number of personnel and assets into a unified Surveillance and Aviation Section.

Mr. Yacone graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and attained a Master of Science in criminal justice from Virginia Commonwealth University.

He and his wife, Becky, have three children.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Improving Communities: Leaders Honored in Washington

They come from different parts of the country. They work in many different fields. And they serve a variety of constituencies.

But the 50-plus individuals who gathered at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., today for a special ceremony have one thing in common: they are all recipients of the 2010 Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA) for their selfless actions within their communities. And, according to Director Robert Mueller, the recipients also share "a willingness to lead and a commitment to improve the lives of their neighbors.... They embody the true meaning of citizenship."

This year’s recipients show how ordinary citizens can make such a big difference in the lives of others, from the New Mexico Anti-Defamation League regional director who combats prejudice and discrimination…to the mosque board member in Cincinnati who educates law enforcement and community leaders about the Muslim faith…from the New Jersey child advocate dedicated to protecting kids from online sexual predators…to the Seattle television anchor whose news program highlights and helps apprehend dangerous fugitives.

And those who benefit from their involvement also represent a broad spectrum of the community, including the young, the elderly, the disabled, women and girls, refugees and legal immigrants, crime victims, minority groups, law enforcement, and the general public. 

We present each of these awards publicly—first at the local FBI field office, and then at a national ceremony in Washington—with the hopes that others will hear the stories of the recipients and be inspired to create change in their own communities, working to keep their neighborhoods safer.

Here are a few more examples of the individuals and organizations selected to receive the DCLA: 

■An Arkansas woman who became a tireless advocate for the elderly after members of her family experienced nursing home abuse;
■An organization in Buffalo that provided resources and assistance to victims who came to light during an FBI human trafficking investigation;
■A former NASA astronaut and successful businessman in Houston who established a foundation that invests in community-based initiatives that empower individuals, particularly minorities and the economically disadvantaged;
■A former deputy fire chief from Louisville who promotes emergency preparedness among first responders and members of the public;
■A St. Louis doctor who risked his career to help uncover massive Medicare and Medicaid fraud being perpetrated by the health care company he worked for; and
■A county school employee in Tampa who created a program for at-risk young males that is now used by the state attorney's office as a diversion program for first-time offenders.

Every year, FBI field offices select individuals or organizations—one per office—to receive the DCLA. The criteria for the award? Achievements in combating terrorism, cyber crime, and illegal drugs, gangs, and other crimes; or violence prevention/education efforts that have had a tremendous positive impact on their communities. This year’s crop of award recipients joins the ranks of a dedicated group of people and organizations that, since 1990, have collectively enhanced the lives of thousands of individuals and families and helped protect communities around the United States.

Congratulations to the winners!

Director Recognizes Distinguished Community Leaders

In a ceremony today at FBI Headquarters, Director Robert S. Mueller, III recognized the recipients of the 2010 Director’s Community Leadership Award. These leaders, selected by their local FBI field office, have demonstrated outstanding contributions to their local communities. The FBI is grateful for the work of each of these individuals and organizations on behalf of their communities.

“I am honored to recognize today’s recipients for their leadership. They are stewards of their communities. They have given their time and talents to make their neighborhoods better, and they embody the true meaning of citizenship,” said Director Mueller.

Recipients of the 2010 Director’s Community Leadership Award include:

■David Graham (Albany)
■Susan M. Seligman (Albuquerque)
■Catholic Social Services (Anchorage)
■Daniel O. Vargas (Atlanta)
■Sidney Ford (Baltimore)
■Peace Valley Foundation, Huntsville Chapter (Birmingham)
■Patricia Spence (Boston)
■International Institute of Buffalo, Human Trafficking Victim Services Program (Buffalo)
■Rachel Braver (Charlotte)
■Roe Conn (Chicago)
■Shakila Ahmad (Cincinnati)
■The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (Cleveland)
■James T. McLawhorn, Jr. (Columbia)
■Christina Yampanis (Dallas)
■Christian Philip Anschutz (Denver)
■Reverend Dr. Wendell Anthony (Detroit)
■Patrick Turley (El Paso)
■National Guard Youth Challenge Program (Honolulu)
■Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr. (Houston)
■Robert K. Caudell (Indianapolis)
■Tanya Carter (Jackson)
■Bernie de la Rionda (Jacksonville)
■Polly Brunkhardt (Kansas City)
■Avon Williams Rollins, Sr. (Knoxville)
■Martha Deaver (Little Rock)
■Erin Andrews (Los Angeles)
■A.J. Fekete (Louisville)
■Dr. Eli T. Morris, III (Memphis)
■Alonzo Mourning (Miami)
■Dr. Mallory O’Brien (Milwaukee)
■Linda J. Walker (Minneapolis)
■Team Focus (Mobile)
■Angela DeLeon (New Haven)
■Sister Mary Lou Specha (New Orleans)
■Dr. Jay Findling (New York)
■Parry Aftab (Newark)
■Gloria Morales (Norfolk)
■Mark Elam (Oklahoma City)
■Eric Idehen (Omaha)
■Matthew Chea (Philadelphia)
■Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus Pine Council Inc. (Phoenix)
■Michael DeStefano (Pittsburgh)
■Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (Portland)
■The Community Idea Stations (Richmond)
■Jenny Williamson (Sacramento)
■Dr. Steven Bander (St. Louis)
■Dr. Earl Sutherland, Jr. (Salt Lake City)
■Deborah Knapp (San Antonio)
■LEAD San Diego (San Diego)
■Bridge the Gap College Prep (San Francisco)
■Carlos McCormack (San Juan)
■“Washington’s Most Wanted” (Seattle)
■Peter Rankaitis (Springfield)
■Travis Terrell Gabriel (Tampa)
■Team Adam, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (Washington Field)
■Thomas F. Thomas (CJIS)
■Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity , Inc. (Office of Public Affairs)
■Steve Harvey Foundation (Office of Public Affairs)
■Nova Southeastern University, FBI Safe Online Surfing (Office of Public Affairs)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Missouri Guard ADT’s Leadership Academy works toward transparent government

By Rachel Knight
Missouri National Guard

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – As the Missouri National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team continues to work with its Afghan hosts on improving the region’s agriculture and business infrastructure they’ve added teaching the importance of transparency in government to the process.

Army Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general, said that because previous Missouri Guard teams have addressed the province’s baseline needs of food and economic security, the current team can build on those foundations through the establishment of the Leadership Academy.

“Economic security is second only to physical security, and the establishment of the academy is proof of the great progress our teams have made since 2007,” Danner said.

“We have transitioned from providing the skills to the Afghan people to teaching those skills. The business and general public administration skills that the Afghan people and their leaders are learning from the academy will greatly improve life in the Nangarhar Province.”

The Leadership Academy will help Afghans through monthly training classes, agriculture extension agent mentoring, cash-for-work projects and training support packages. To make sure that Missourians were meeting the province’s needs, the team worked closely with Safi Mohammed Hussein, the director of agriculture, irrigation and livestock, to identify topics and training.

The cash-for-work project is the most prominent component of the academy, said Col. Michael Fortune, Agribusiness Development Team IV commander. The projects maximize the impact of classroom training by allowing Afghan agents to identify, nominate and manage these small projects that do not cost more than $5,000.

“While the total dollar amount for each project is small, much can be accomplished in a country where the average laborer makes only $3 per day,” said Lt. Col. Raymond Legg, agriculture team chief.

Every new project is a step forward for the region and the academy, Fortune said. The projects are nominated by villagers, reviewed by district governance officials, and approved by Safi.

“The most commonly submitted cash for work projects are irrigation, karize and canal cleaning, and repair,” said Legg. “These projects increase the district’s agriculture capacity by increasing essential water inputs allowing the Afghans to farm previously underutilized farmland.”

Throughout the process, National Guardsmen work closely with the Afghans to teach management and supervisory techniques.

“While the agriculture extension agents are very knowledgeable about the problems of the district, they require mentoring in identifying and planning suitable cash for work projects within the capabilities of villagers to complete,” said Capt. John Paluczak, agriculture section officer in charge.

Each project also comes with a detailed tracking system so that the team can gauge its effectiveness. The system also makes the program as transparent as possible.

“In Afghanistan, relationships are everything,” Paluczak said. “When the agent operates in a transparent manner, the farmers of the district create a long-lasting relationship built upon trust and mutual respect. The perception of openness and transparency establishes the foundation upon which the people perceive the agent and how they are going to treat the agent.”

A more transparent system will also cut down on corruption, Paluczak said.

“The agriculture extension agents need to be seen by farmers and villagers as the most honest, uncorrupt and transparent members of the government,” Fortune stressed during a monthly training class. “Agents are the most visible sign that government is working for the people in rural areas.”

Each project is an opportunity to better the region through increasing its agribusiness capabilities and demonstrating effective, honest government, Paluczak said.

“Agribusiness team members identify key concepts they believe will have a large, long-term impact on Nangarhar agricultural production,” said Paluczak.

“We are currently developing training support packages on small bag silage, composting, drip irrigation, row cropping, experimentation and windbreaks so that agriculture extension agents can spread these basic concepts throughout the community to allow farmers to increase their yields.”

Challenges aren’t limited to the projects themselves. There are major language and literacy gaps that the team must overcome to be successful. For example, the literacy rate in Afghanistan is just over 28 percent.

“Because most Afghan farmers are illiterate, the flip charts consist mostly of pictures with some words,” Palczuk said. “Finally, the booklet tells a story through pictures of how to do what the training support package describes. There are some words, but it is meant to be taken home by the farmers to use as a reference when they implement the new practice.”

All products must also be translated from English to Pashto.

Despite those challenges, the program and the Agribusiness Development Team’s mission have so far been successful, Danner said.

“When we fielded our first Agribusiness Development Team in 2007, we knew we would face some difficult challenges – but we also knew we would overcome them,” Danner said. “Our Afghan partners are committed to progress, and we are proud of our Guardmembers who are on the ground helping them in this time of transition.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Challenge Academy graduates begin AmeriCorps NCCC service

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

Several graduates of the Wisconsin National Guard's Challenge Academy Class 25 have embarked on a new challenge.

Following the 22-week residential phase at Fort McCoy, Challenge graduates are expected to find employment or enroll in post-secondary education as part of their 12-month post-residential phase. Rather than taking the conventional path, eight of those graduates have completed four weeks of initial training and were inducted into the AmeriCorps National Civilian Corps (NCCC) in Vinton, Iowa on March 16.

For the next nine months Samantha Czerkas, Cross Plains; Devan Farnsworth, Fall River; Brett Hrdlicka, Turtle Lake; Theda LeFlore, Milwaukee; Taylor Maciosek, Milladore; Samuel Puchalla, Sheboygan; Ryan Skiff, Mauston; and Starr Spencer, Eau Claire will perform service to community projects across the Midwest.

"I have never traveled outside of Wisconsin," Skiff said."[I] am looking forward to this opportunity."

For six weeks, LeFlore will work with a team serving the Augusta, Mich., YMCA as cabin leaders for school groups. She will also assist in their Integrated Education Program.

"I am excited for my first project because I get to work with children and make a difference," she said.

The other cadets are assigned to different projects including building homes, managing invasive species, preparing income tax returns, or developing and restoring trail systems for their first round projects.

AmeriCorps staff described the Youth Challenge cadets, which currently represent about 10 percent of the Corps, as disciplined and respectful. Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy Director M.G. MacLaren and members of the counseling department attended the induction ceremony to support the cadets' attendance in the leadership program.

NCCC provides an opportunity for those seeking experience in helping others, working as a team and giving back to the community. AmeriCorps also offers its members an educational award to help finance school following their term of service. The National Guard Youth Challenge Program and AmeriCorps NCCC have partnered with the goal of helping more cadets transition into community service work with NCCC.

The Challenge Academy reshapes the lives of at-risk 16- to 18-year-olds. A structured, military-style environment and state-certified teachers and counselors build cadets' academic abilities, character, self-confidence and personal discipline.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lewis M. Chapman Named Special Agent in Charge of the Mobile Division

Director Robert S. Mueller, III named Lewis “Matt” Chapman special agent in charge of the FBI’s Mobile Division. Mr. Chapman most recently served as section chief of the Investigative and Operations Support Section, Critical Incident Response Group in Quantico, Virginia.

As section chief, Mr. Chapman oversaw the FBI’s National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime, crisis management, special events, and rapid deployment logistics programs. He also served as the FBI on-scene commander at the Beijing Olympics.

Mr. Chapman entered on duty as a special agent in May 1988 and was assigned to the Dallas Division working violent crime, fugitive, public corruption, and government fraud matters.

In 1999, Mr. Chapman was promoted to supervisory special agent at FBI Headquarters in the Counterterrorism Division, Weapons of Mass Destruction Operations Unit. While at Headquarters, he served in the Inspection Division as an assistant inspector.

Mr. Chapman transferred to the Memphis Division in 2002 as a supervisor of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and oversaw all foreign counterintelligence matters. After working in Memphis, he served in the New Orleans Division as assistant special agent in charge from 2004 to 2008. He managed all FBI programs and served as the division’s crisis manager. Following Hurricane Katrina, he received the Attorney General’s Award for fraud prevention and the FBI Director’s Award for leadership.

Mr. Chapman graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology in Jensen Beach, Florida in 1984.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mullen Calls Leadership Most Important NCO Contribution

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2011 – Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told students at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy yesterday that of all their talents and capabilities, leadership is the most important value they bring to the force.

“I have one requirement for senior enlisted leaders in every service, and that is to lead my young people, period,” Mullen told an assembly of about 300 students and cadre members at the Fort Bliss, Texas, academy. “That’s it. And that’s where I want you focused.”

Senior noncommissioned officers “have to be good at what you do,” and in the skills of their specific military occupational specialties, the chairman said. “But in the hardest, toughest times that we have, there is nothing I can depend on that is more important – and delivers every time – than good leadership,” he added. “Bad leadership will destroy me, no matter what my mission is or what equipment I have.”

Mullen praised the educational emphasis at the Sergeants Major Academy designed to build leadership skills.

Leaders “just don’t just show up,” and there’s always more to learn about how to be the best leader possible, he told the group.

“As good as anyone might be, there is always more to learn about how to do this. … There are good ideas that you never thought of,” Mullen said, noting that many ideas were “loaded in this room” of accomplished, experienced NCOs.

Mullen challenged the students to put the lessons they are learning at the academy to work to strengthen the Army when they return to their units.

Leadership is “making sure we know our people” and the challenges we face, he said. But it’s also “making sure we are mentoring those who are coming behind us” and, after making a difference for them and their careers, “getting out of the way” so they, too, have opportunities to grow.

Mullen told the senior NCOs he’s depending on them to help in addressing a huge range of issues that include suicide, post-traumatic stress, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

As they do so, Mullen said, he recognizes that the only constant is change. Leading in a time of change is the “toughest, most exciting, most challenging kind of leadership,” he said.

The chairman told the NCOs their leadership skills will be particularly important as the military brings more of its troops home from combat and readapts to become a largely garrison-based force. Most junior troops have spent so much time deployed that they’ll need leaders to help them adapt to that garrison force, the chairman told the group.

“Garrison leadership isn’t just going to show up one day,” he told the senior NCOs."You are the only ones, I believe, who understand garrison leadership, period. … We are incredibly dependent on you to get it right.”

As that force evolves, Mullen emphasized that he doesn’t want to see it simply revert to its state in the year 2000. Rather, he said, leaders need to help it “take the best of what we were, take the best of what we have become, figure out how to make those work together, and move ahead.”

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Navy Honors a Civil Rights Pioneer

By Navy Secretary Ray Mabus

Today in Jackson, Mississippi, I was privileged to honor a civil rights hero and the millions of Americans who have furthered the cause of liberty. As Secretary of the Navy, I am responsible for naming our ships. Today, I announced that the first ship I will name will be the USNS Medgar Evers.

The ship that will carry Medgar Evers name around the world for a generation is a T-AKE, a critically important supply ship. They are traditionally named for famous American pioneers, explorers, and visionaries. They celebrate the dreams and bold action of the American spirit and they honor men and women who have changed our country and the world for the better - men and women like Alan Shepard, Sacagawea, Carl Brashear, and Amelia Earhart. The ships' namesakes represent the rich tapestry that is America.

Medgar Evers carried on that proud tradition of leadership as a pioneer and visionary of the civil rights movement. As a young man, he served in France during the Second World War. Upon returning to the United States, he took up the cause of freedom, rose to become the Field Secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi, and campaigned tirelessly to end segregation and ensure equal treatment for every American.

No less so than the heroes who have fought and died for our country overseas, he gave his life to defend America and its principles when he was assassinated in his own driveway in June of 1963.

It was an emotional ceremony today when I announced my choice, speaking at the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute on Citizenship and Democracy at Jackson State University. The Institute honors another civil rights leader from Mississippi. I was proud to be joined today by the widow of Medgar Evers, Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams, as well as by Congressman Bennie Thompson, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, former Mississippi Governor William Winter, and a score of other civil rights activists and Mississippians. Sharing the moment with them was a humbling experience for me. It reminded me of how far we have come, but also of how much others who went before us sacrificed on our behalf, just like the Sailors and Marines I’m proud to serve as Secretary.

I believe today we honored the work of legends and in a small way reaffirmed the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that "one day the nation would rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed - that all men are created equal."

Panel Recommends Ways to Improve Military Diversity

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2011 – A commission created to improve diversity among military leaders has issued 20 recommendations its members say will make the military better reflect the composition of the United States in its ranks.

The Military Leadership Diversity Commission, created as part of the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, issued the findings yesterday of its 18-month research with recommendations for how the Defense Department can improve the promotion of women and minorities at a time when the nation is expected to become increasingly diverse.

“The armed forces have not yet succeeded in developing a continuing stream of leaders who are as demographically diverse as the nation they serve,” the report says.

The disparity between the numbers of racial and ethnic minorities in the military and their leaders “will become starkly obvious without the successful recruitment, promotion, and retention of racial/ethnic minorities among the enlisted force,” the report says. “Without sustained attention, this problem will only become more acute as the … makeup of the United States continues to change.”

The commission’s chairman, retired Air Force Gen. Lester L. Lyles, told American Forces Press Service that while the military is free of the institutional biases of decades past, it retains the appearance of bias because so few women and minorities occupy senior positions.

“There are no institutional biases in the United States military today, … and probably have not been for many, many years,” Lyles said. “But there are some people who think there are, because when you look statistically at the demographics in the United States, and you look at the demographics in the military, then you look at the senior leadership positions, both in officer and senior enlisted ranks, to some it may give the appearance that there are biases that prevented women and minorities from achieving those senior ranks.”

The commission found four reasons for low representation of women and minorities in senior military positions:

-- Low representation of women and minorities in initial officer accessions;

-- Lower representation of women and minority officers in career fields associated with higher officer rank;

-- Lower retention of midlevel female service members; and

-- Lower rates of advancement among female and minority officers.

“Our recommendations were to ensure we remove any potential barriers that exist today; that we make recommendations that enhance the culture, career progression and recruiting [of women and minorities]; and that we grow the pool of eligible candidates,” Lyles said.

The commission recommends that the services consider commitment to diversity in officer promotions and require diversity leadership education and training at all levels.

To further promote diversity, the services must increase their pool of eligible recruits and officer candidates, the report says. Pentagon statistics show that three out of four Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are not eligible to enlist because of low education or test scores, past criminal history, or because they can’t meet health and fitness requirements.

“This is a national security issue requiring the attention and collected effort of top public officials,” the commission’s report says.

The commission also recommended a new, broader definition of “diversity” that would add backgrounds and skills largely missing from today’s military, such as recruiting people from more varied regions and cultural backgrounds and with foreign-language skills and higher math, science and technological abilities.

“Diversity is all the different characteristics and attributes of individuals that are consistent with Department of Defense core values, integral to overall readiness and mission accomplishment, and reflective of the nation we serve,” the report says.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Julius W. Becton Jr., the commission’s vice chair, said the military’s needs in recruiting and retaining the right people must start much earlier than at the end of high school.

“Unless we start at the pre-kindergarten level, we’re never going to increase how many kids are graduating and going to college,” said Becton, a former college president and superintendent of Washington, D.C., public schools. Issues such as full-day kindergarten, summer school, and lengthening the hours American children spend in school all have an impact on the military, he said.

Such steps are important, Becton said, to ensure that potential recruits can meet military standards. Nothing the commission has recommended calls for lowering standards, he added.

“There are no efforts whatsoever to decrease standards,” he said. “The standards are proven, and we want people to come up to the standards.”

The commission also recommended that the Pentagon lift its ban on assigning women to ground combat units below the brigade level, citing the policy as a barrier to women attaining the military’s most-senior ranks.

Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said Defense Department officials will evaluate the panel’s recommendations as part of an ongoing review of diversity policies.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Leadership Journal joins The Blog @ Homeland Security

We thank you for your loyal readership of the Leadership Journal; our online forum discussing policy issues from the perspective of the Department’s senior leadership.

Starting today, we will be combining the Leadership Journal and The Blog @ Homeland Security to form one unified blog for The Department of Homeland Security.

On The Blog @ Homeland Security, readers can still expect to see blog posts directly from the Secretary and senior leadership, as well as feature stories from across the Department, all in one convenient location. 

We encourage and welcome your thoughts and comments on The Blog (http://blog.dhs.gov).

This page lives as a standing archive of the Leadership Journal.   Here you will find all of the content published on the Leadership Journal from its beginning in September 2007 to the latest post in January 2011.  Long term, the Leadership Journal will be permanently archived and the URL http://journal.dhs.gov/ will discontinue.

Right now, you can still view any past Leadership Journal entry, each with its original comments still intact.

Please note that the e-mail subscriber list for Leadership Journal will discontinue.  We encourage you to sign up for the e-mail subscriber list on The Blog to receive the latest news and updates from the Department.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Essex Sailors Share Leadership Principles with Royal Cambodian Navy

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Mark R. Alvarez

SIHANOUKVILLE, Kingdom of Cambodia (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) shared ideas on military leadership with officers of the Royal Cambodian Navy (RCN) March 1 as part of Cambodia Maritime Exercise 2011.

Senior petty officers from Essex were given the opportunity to discuss leadership techniques and principles with 20 RCN commanding and executive officers whose average time in service was more than 20 years.

"I believe we gave them a different perspective on information they already knew," said Cryptological Technician (Maintenance) 1st Class (SW/AC/AW/IUSS) Jason Zemlo. "I wanted to show them the structure of our leadership and how we adapt to the obstacles we face."

Topics of discussion included core values, discipline, and scenario-based discussions on leadership challenges.

Even though the Essex Sailors were junior compared to their students, the RCN officers were grateful for the exchange of ideas.

"We in the RCN are very eager to learn from the American Navy," said Lt. Cmdr. Sath Bou, deputy commander of RCN's Ship 7. "Normally, our training with the U.S. is limited to a few subjects, which makes this leadership exchange special."

Bou, a veteran with more than 30 years time in service, also said that he would use the information presented to enhance and develop his unit.

Both groups of sailors were able to find a good deal of common ground through discussions on leadership approaches to various challenging situations.

"They were very focused on their mission and their people," added Jones. "When we discussed the Navy's core values, I found that their beliefs were along the exact same lines."

The RCN officers also asked questions about how the U.S. Navy's chain of command functions and how much time U.S. Sailors spend at sea.

The leadership exchange was just one of a series of events in which U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel participated in during Cambodia Maritime Exercise 2011.

Throughout the exercise, U.S. Sailors have taught courses in the English language and shipboard operations. The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's medical staff also worked with their Cambodian counterparts to provide primary care services, dental care and optometry care to Cambodians in the Kampong Som province.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Five Stars and 30% Percent Off

For a short time, Amazon has placed Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style on sale for a nearly 30% discount. This Five Star book is highly recommended by readers, reviews and leaders from every walk of life.


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"It is a non-academic, easy to read, practitioner's guide to leadership in life, everywhere from the coffee shop to the front lines."
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Andrew J. Borrello, Career Development Consultant

"There are many jewels in this book, waiting to be unearthed by leaders, new or tenured, who have a desire to better understand and implement effective leadership strategies in this very complex arena."
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"Andrew Harvey and Raymond Foster have crafted an exceptionally outstanding learning resource--it is far more than a 'book' if the reader accesses all that is available through their generous and dynamic leadership website--for leaders of every experience level. "Leadership Texas Hold'em Style" is a great read for the young leader starting out with its wealth of ideas and thought-provoking real-world situations. For the very same reason the book has as much or more significance for seasoned folks in positions of responsibility who simply need to continue to improve their level of expertise and excellence."
Major Richard S. Botkin, USMC (ret.)

"The authors of this book are incredibly educated and insightful in their perceptions and philosophies on leadership. They are not writing from theory, they are writing from experience, adding to the credibility factor of this book! The poker analogies used in this book are awesome and very to the point."
R. Temple

"From the beginning on this book captured my attention. And even though I don't play poker, the authors make it easy to apply poker rules and principles to leading and motivating people. The chapters are short and broken up with little tid-bits about poker too."
Thad Forester

"I love the analogy to poker that is used. I love the chapters on teamwork, Morale, organization, change, and importance of being an excellent leader to follow. This book changes the way you look at leadership but also fun to read."
Betty Moffitt

Flournoy Hails Pioneering Military, Civilian Women

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2011 – The Pentagon’s top civilian policy official said she wouldn’t be in her current position if it weren’t for the many women before her, whom she hailed as “true pioneers.”

That was the message delivered today by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy, who spoke at the Joint Services Women’s History Month luncheon held at the Kennedy Caucus Room of the U.S. Senate’s Russell Office Building.

“These women -- uniformed and civilian alike -- have showed the others who followed that it’s possible to be a woman and serve your country with great distinction,” Flournoy said. “And often, they had to overcome great obstacles to do so.”

The luncheon event follows President Barack Obama’s Feb. 28 proclamation designating March as Women’s History Month.

In his proclamation, Obama noted that American women “scale the skies as astronauts, expand our economy as entrepreneurs and business leaders, and serve our country at the highest levels of government and our Armed Forces.”

On Feb. 28, the U.S. Senate approved Concurrent Resolution 8, which recognizes “the importance of women to national defense throughout the history of the United States; and encourages the people of the United States to honor women who have served and who continue to serve the United States in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Attending today’s luncheon with Flournoy was Undersecretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal, who as the then-acting Army secretary oversaw the May 11, 2001, dedication of the Women’s Army Museum at Fort Lee, Va.

Westphal thanked today’s women serving in the nation’s military services who’ve “given so much of themselves to support and defend our nation and our way of life.”

Flournoy highlighted some of the women who were responsible for significant accomplishments in defense of the United States.

Jeanne M. Holm, who recently passed away at age 88, was a “true pioneer,” Flournoy said, who joined the Army and worked as a silversmith and a truck driver during World War II.

In 1949, Holm joined the U.S. Air Force and went on to become its first female one-star general, and later, the first female two-star in any branch of the armed forces, Flournoy said.

Holm accomplished many things in her life, Flournoy said, noting she’d worked tirelessly to expand opportunities for military women.

During her military career Holm had fought promotion ‘glass ceilings’ and quotas that limited women, Flournoy noted. Holm, she added, had called for women to be admitted to the service academies, to be able to fly as pilots, and claim the same housing and medical and benefits as men did.

“All these things eventually came to pass, and it’s easy for all of us to sit here and take them for granted,” Flournoy said. “But these advances took a lot of hard work and General Holm worked hard to achieve them.”

Another pioneer and role model for military women, she said, is the late retired Navy Rear Adm. [lower half] Grace Marie Hopper. A Naval officer, Hopper became the first woman to receive a restricted line promotion to flag officer in 1983. Known as “Amazing Grace,” Hopper had a doctorate in mathematics from Yale and joined the Navy reserve as an ordnance officer during World War II.

Hopper was involved in early efforts to develop an electronic computer, Flournoy said. Hopper later developed the prototype of the COBOL software programming, which Flournoy described as “a breakthrough that was credited with making computer programming far more accessible than it had been before.”

Civilian women like Sheila E. Widnall also have made great strides serving in leading roles in the defense department, the undersecretary said.

“High on this list was Sheila Widnall -- the only woman yet to receive a full appointment as a service secretary,” Flournoy said, noting that Widnall also had served as a professor and an associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Widnall had served as Secretary of the Air Force between 1993 and 1997 –- the first woman appointed as the Air Force’s senior civilian.

As Air Force secretary, Widnall “oversaw a modernization program during … budgetary constraints, and helped create a more effective acquisition process to ensure America’s continued air superiority,” Flournoy said.

Widnall also paved the way for “more and more” women to serve in leadership roles in the Pentagon, the undersecretary said.

“In today’s Pentagon,” Flournoy said, “women are the secretary of defense’s chief advisers on everything from legislative affairs, to issues and portfolios from Africa to Eurasia, from homeland defense to the global campaign against weapons of mass destruction.”

Talented, courageous women of the past have paved the way for the opportunities, responsibilities and accomplishments available to today’s women leaders, Flournoy said.

“And all of us in turn, I’m sure, will do everything within our power to open doors for the next generation,” she said. “And that next generation will make contributions to our nation’s defense that we cannot even imagine here today.”