Catherine L. Kessmeier is acting general counsel and principal deputy general counsel for the Department of the Navy. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing and coordinating all Office of the General Counsel legal practice areas and serving as the office community leader of more than 1,100 attorneys and professional support staff in 140 offices worldwide.
Prior to her appointment to this role, she was acting assistant secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) and principal deputy assistant Secretary of the Navy. Kessmeier was responsible for the overall supervision and oversight of manpower and reserve component affairs of the Department of the Navy, including the development of programs and policy related to military personnel (active, reserve and retired), their family members and the civilian workforce; and the oversight of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, Sexual Assault Prevention Program Office, Naval Education, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Manpower, Analytics and Human Resources systems within the department. As principal deputy assistant secretary, she advised the assistant secretary in exercising the entire portfolio responsible for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
Previously, she served as deputy general counsel for the Department of the Navy, assisting with overseeing and coordinating the Office of General Counsel legal practice areas and community leadership.
Before that, she served as Assistant General Counsel (M&RA) – the principal legal advisor to the Secretariat for matters concerning military and civilian personnel policy, as well as coordinating the efforts of attorneys world-wide in administrative and federal court labor and employment litigation.
Kessmeier was appointed to the senior executive service in January 2013 as the assistant general counsel (Acquisition Integrity) for the Department of the Navy. In this capacity, she served as the department’s suspending and debarring official and oversaw efforts to pursue criminal, civil, contractual, and administrative remedies in all significant investigations of acquisition fraud or corruption.
Prior to her appointment as the assistant general counsel (Acquisition Integrity), Kessmeier served as deputy assistant general counsel (M&RA) from 2009 until 2013. She managed and directed the provision of legal services for the Naval Sea Systems Command as the Mid-Atlantic Area Counsel and Counsel Naval Surface Warfare Center (Carderock division) in 2005-2009.
Kessmeier joined the Department of the Navy Office of the General Counsel in 1999 as an attorney with the Naval Sea Systems Command, where she later served as a subsection head for civilian personnel law and special projects.
Kessmeier also worked as a labor and employment law attorney for the Department of Commerce, Office of the General Counsel, where she provided legal support to the secretariat, its operating units, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
She began her federal career as a staff attorney to the Chair of the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
Kessmeier completed the Interdepartmental Honors Program at Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia Pennsylvania and graduated with a B.A. in political science.
She earned her doctor of law degree from the Widener University School of Law, Wilmington, Delaware, where she was associate articles editor for the Widener Law Symposium Journal and an executive board member of the Moot Court Honor Society.
She is the recipient of the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, two Department of the Navy Superior Civilian Service Awards, two Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Awards, and a Superior Accomplishment Award from the U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority.
Last Updated: 1 December 2021
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