USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- The Navy announced an officer serving aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) won the 2012 Capt. Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Award in the junior officer category, Feb. 12.
Lt. Megan Donnelly, assistant strike operations officer of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, said that it is a tremendous honor to be selected from among the many junior officers throughout the Navy.
"It's beyond anything I ever thought I would see, but it's definitely an honor," Donnelly said. "There's a lot of history with Capt. Bright Hancock."
The award, sponsored by the Sea Service Leadership Association (SSLA) and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), honors female leaders annually from the enlisted and officer communities whose ideals and dedication foster a positive working environment and who reinforce and further the integration of women into more roles throughout the Navy.
This marks the second consecutive year a Lincoln Sailor has been selected to receive a Hancock Award. In 2011, Command Master Chief Susan Whitman won the award in the senior enlisted category.
Donnelly, a P3-C Orion pilot by trade, is primarily responsible for creating the daily flight plan that governs everything that occurs on the flight deck, from flight operations to training exercises.
"It sounds pretty straightforward, but in practice, it's quite complicated," said Cmdr. Daniel Gordon, Lincoln's strike operations officer. "There are 14 separate and distinct departments - as well as the air wing - that are all competing over the daily scheduled events. A large part of the job is ensuring that events are not scheduled on top of each other. If they are, then they need to be able to co-exist."
Gordon credits Donnelly with being an integral part of his office and to the ship's mission as a whole.
"Without her expertise and knowledge of how the pieces fit together on a daily basis, the ship's training and war fighting capabilities would be significantly degraded," said Gordon.
In addition to her responsibilities in the Strike Operations Office, Donnelly is one of only two females aboard Lincoln who are qualified to stand watch on the Bridge as officer of the deck (OOD).
"Having a strong female role model in a position of authority is very valuable for the young Sailors to see, especially how she handles herself on the Bridge as the OOD," Gordon said. "Bridge watchstanders get a firsthand experience of how to be a professional female officer and how to do it with confidence and authority."
Donnelly said the ideals of service and hard work she received from her parents, her training as a 2002 graduate of the Naval Academy and the positive mentors she has had throughout her career have helped her become a successful Sailor and leader.
"I always want to do the best I can. I've always been competitive and hard working," she said. "I've had a lot of good mentors, both male and female. I think I've been able to look at their leadership styles and see how they best work for me."
Gordon said that the biggest factor in Donnelly's success is her confidence.
"She knows what needs to be done, she knows how to do it, and she doesn't need any prompting to get it done," he said. "I give her a task and not only do I not have to follow up on anything, but I know that it will get done in a timely fashion, and it will be done correctly."
Donnelly feels it's important for her to be a leader and role model for all Sailors, not just females, though she acknowledged that females have a special set of traits that they can bring to leadership roles in the Navy.
"There are a lot of things that women are good at that translate very well into military leadership," she said. "Things like compassionate leadership and multi-tasking. It's good to develop those traits and show some of the women that are more junior, 'Hey, you've got some really good traits, and there is a place for you here. There is value in your skill set. Stay in and be a leader.'"
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