Sea Service Leadership Association's 2012 Navy Leadership Awards

Story Number: NNS120225-03Release Date: 2/25/2012 1:44:00 PM
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By Ensign Amber Lynn Daniel, Diversity and Inclusion Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy will honor four outstanding women at the upcoming Joint Women's Leadership Symposium's Leadership Awards Luncheon at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, Md., on March 5 as announced in NAVADMIN 068/12, Feb. 23.

The 2012 Navy Leadership Award Recipients include Hospital Corpsmen First Class Sonseeahray Walker of Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill. in the junior enlisted category; Chief Construction Electrician (SCW/DV) Lynn M. Rodriguez of Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center, Port Hueneme, Calif. in the senior enlisted category; Lt. Megan M. Donnelly, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) of Carrier Strike Group 9 in the junior officer category; and Cmdr. Regina G. Marengo of 7th Naval Construction Regiment, Newport, R.I. in the senior officer category.

The Captain Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Awards are presented to a senior and junior officer, and the Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Awards are presented to a senior and junior enlisted service member.

"This year's nominees are mature leaders who have shown exceptional leadership and have persevered to overcome challenges while serving," said Cmdr. Elisabeth Gracia, senior awards board advisor. "This was the most competitive group we've ever seen, and each community should be proud of these leaders. They truly embody honor, courage and commitment on every level."

Nominations addressed the nominee's professional accomplishments, leadership style, and community involvement. Over 120 nomination packages were submitted in response to the award solicitation message sent out last November and spanned every naval community. The awards were co-presented by the Sea Service Leadership Association and the Military Officers Association of America.

The Captain Joy Bright Hancock and Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Awards honor the visionary leadership of service members whose ideals and dedication foster a positive working environment for reinforcing and furthering the integration of women into the Navy. Established in 1987, these leadership awards have been presented annually, recognizing the inspirational leadership of Navy officers and enlisted members on active or reserve duty. In 2012, the Navy added the junior enlisted award category.

"All four women have served across the globe, impacting and shaping our Navy," said Gracia. "From training recruits, to qualifying as an Officer of the Deck underway as an aviator, to serving in elite special programs within the Seabee community, to balancing the demands of a civilian business owner with deploying as a Reservist in support of the Global War on Terrorism, each of the recipients have displayed tremendous leadership capabilities in the face of challenges. Each of these women has worked hard and deserves of the honor that comes with receiving a Captain Joy Bright Hancock or Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Award."

The two award namesakes were true Navy trailblazers, both reaching new heights within their naval careers and laying the foundation for other women to follow in their footsteps today.

This year, the enlisted awards were renamed in honor of Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian. Der-Vartanian joined the Navy in December 1943, and rose through the ranks quickly, promoting to Chief Yeoman three years later in 1946. Der-Vartanian served in various leadership positions all over the fleet, from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to Paris, France. In 1959, while serving as assistant to the Global Strategy Officer at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., Der-Vartanian received her promotion to master chief petty Officer. With that promotion, she made history as the first woman in the Armed Services to be promoted to the rank of E-9. Der-Vartanian retired from the Navy July 1963 with 21 years of naval service. Although Der-Vartanian was engaged on three separate occasions, she never married, nor had children, as that was a disqualifier of service prior to 1973.

Capt. Joy Bright-Hancock joined the Navy during World War I, enlisting as a yeoman. After the war ended in 1918 and having been widowed twice, she left the Navy and went on to attend a Foreign Service School and obtained a private pilot's license. In October 1942, Bright-Hancock was commissioned as a lieutenant. By the end of World War II, she rose to the rank of commander. In February 1946, Bright-Hancock became the WAVES' Director and promoted to the rank of captain the following July. Bright-Hancock was instrumental in guiding the WAVES through a difficult time period and ensured that Navy women achieved the same standing as their active duty male counterparts. She retired in June 1953.

This year marks the 25th Silver Anniversary of the Sea Service Leadership Association's Joint Women's Leadership Symposium, held in March and coinciding with Women's History Month. The theme, "United in Service: Our Global Impact," embodies the essence of this year's award recipients.

Commands are strongly encouraged to increase their knowledge and awareness of the contributions of women to the Navy and nation by celebrating Women's History Month through programs, exhibits, publications, and participation in military and community events.

For more information on the Joint Women's Leadership Symposium, visit

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U.S. Army Brig. Gen. N. Lee S. Price, center, as part of the female general officer panel, responds to a question by an audience member at the 24th annual Joint Women's Leadership Symposium
110315-N-0767O-652 SAN DIEGO (March 15, 2011) U.S. Army Brig. Gen. N. Lee S. Price, center, as part of the female general officer panel, responds to a question by an audience member at the 24th annual Joint Women's Leadership Symposium in San Diego. The symposium is sponsored by the Sea Service Leadership Association and seeks to recognize the contributions that women bring to the U.S. Armed Forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo/Released)
March 16, 2011
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