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The Navy announced the award recipients in NAVADMIN 118/22:
Captain Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Award Winners
Senior Officer: Lt. Cmdr. Emily A. Curran, Pre-Commissioning Unit John F. Kennedy (CVN 79)
Junior Officer: Lt. Christina A. Danai, USS Manchester (LCS 14)
LDO/CWO: Lt. Natalia F. Luchetti, Special Projects Patrol Squadron Two (VPU-2)
Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Award Winners
Senior Enlisted: Chief Master-at-Arms Markeeta Y. Hardin, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)
Junior Enlisted: Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Brittany M. Robinson, Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2D Marine Logistics Group
Senior Officer: Lt. Cmdr. Christine Cairoli, Naval Support Activity Panama City, and Lt. Cmdr. Ashley Farina, Strike Fighter Squadron Two (VFA-2)
Junior Officer: Lt. Kimberly Rios, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Defense Service Office, Rota, Spain
Senior Enlisted: Senior Chief Musician Erin Horn, Navy Band Northeast
Junior Enlisted: Navy Counselor 1st Class Lauren Lemmel, Tactical Operations Control Squadron 10 (TOCRON-10)
Above and Beyond
Established in 1987, and open to both men and women, these annual leadership awards honor the visionary leadership of Sailors whose ideals and dedication foster an inclusive culture while furthering the integration of women in the Navy.
Candidates were nominated by their commanding officers and officers-in-charge with endorsements from their immediate superior in command. Convening boards, composed of senior leaders from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, then graded nominees on the criteria of inspirational and innovative leadership, professional accomplishments, character, command climate, and community involvement.
After thorough review of 98 nomination packages, the winners were selected for going above and beyond in every category, exhibiting extraordinary service like that of the eponymous legacies of the awards.
“It is an honor to serve alongside you as we write the next great chapter in our Navy’s story,” Waters said during the awards presentation. “I am excited to read about the future Capt. Hancock and Master Chief Der-Vartanian who are in this crowd today.”
Lt. Cmdr. Emily A. Curran received the Senior Officer Capt. Joy Bright Hancock Award for her leadership as the Nuclear Reactor Controls Assistant Officer aboard the aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and as “a superior leader whose significant contributions have achieved a positive command climate.”
While including Curran’s command achievements, her citation also noted:
“Her leadership demonstrates the value women and mothers bring to the organization. She authored and championed Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) policy and leadership training on pregnancy in industrial environments, leveraging her own experience with pregnancy on the waterfront to identify areas needing improvement. Her tireless efforts elevated workforce management issues to encourage a more inclusive pregnancy policy regarding childcare and breastfeeding.”
Lt. Christina A. Danai received the Junior Officer Capt. Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Award for her leadership as the Chief Engineer aboard the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Manchester (LCS 14), where she has set an example of personal and professional excellence. She also serves on the Naval Junior Officer Counsel’s Board of Representatives.
Danai’s citation included:
“Throughout her career she has been a staunch advocate for diversity and inclusion, from integrating female Sailors aboard USS Lake Erie (CG 70) to providing constructive leadership panels for junior officers. She continues this practice in having been appointed to the newly created Naval Junior Officer Council, an organization established by the Chief of Naval Research and Chief of Naval Personnel to continue fostering a healthy, inclusive, team-oriented Navy.
Lt. Natalia F. Luchetti received the Limited Duty Officer/Chief Warrant Officer Capt. Joy Bright Hancock Award for her leadership over the span of her career and while serving as the Assistant Maintenance Officer of Special Projects Patrol Squadron Two (VPU-2). Praised by her commanders as a true deckplate leader, from the mess decks to the wardroom, Luchetti was noted for her efforts in “promoting equal opportunity, professional growth and a positive command environment.”
Among her accomplishments, her citation included:
“She was hand-picked to serve collaterally as the Command Advisor on Parenthood and Pregnancy (CAPP), advocating for parents serving in the military. An innovator and champion, she has conducted dozens of mentorship sessions, helping young Sailors realize their untapped potential in order to retain Navy’s most diverse and invaluable talent.”
Chief Master-at-Arms Markeeta Y. Hardin, although unable to attend the awards presentation, was recognized as the Senior Enlisted Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Award recipient for her leadership and persistent advocacy for diversity, equity and inclusion of women in the Navy.
Hardin founded an active-duty female mentorship group for single mothers of all paygrades, and volunteered as a mentor for pregnant teens at a local juvenile detention center, as well as tutored at multiple inner city schools. She was elected by her peers to be the president of the Chief Petty Officer Association. She also earned the Women’s History Spotlight Award and Excellence Retention Award.
Hardin’s award citation noted:
“Consistently breaking boundaries and effecting change, her dedication to mentorship and women in the service has been felt throughout the Navy spanning from Fifth Fleet to Navy Region Mid-South and beyond.”
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Brittany M. Robinson received the Junior Enlisted Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Award for her impact and initiative at Second Marine Logistics Group.
Hand-selected by her commanding officer to “course-correct” her regiment’s organizational culture, Robinson developed and implemented several programs to build unit cohesion and morale. In her off-duty time, she volunteers in intensive care units and emergency rooms - accumulating over 600 hours of community service - all while balancing the demands of motherhood and her pursuit of a college education in nursing.
The awardee’s citation also included:
“A mother, student, and Sailor, Petty Officer Robinson personifies the fighting spirit of awardee namesake Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian. Persevering in the face of adversity, she transformed her own personal experiences into an opportunity to lead, educate and better her fellow Sailors.”
An honorable mention in the Senior Officer category, Lt. Cmdr. Christine Cairoli, was recognized for her leadership as a human resources officer at Naval Support Activity Panama City. Cairoli has been a mentor to over 750 youth across six different duty stations through her community involvement as an ambassador for the Navy.
Lt. Cmdr. Ashley Farina, also a Senior Officer honorable mention, is a naval flight officer who is known for mentoring those she leads, both junior officers and enlisted. As one of the few women selected for VFA department head, she leads inclusively and has an innovative mind - from helping her squadron procure essential flight equipment for female aviators to prioritizing meaningful squadron mentoring sessions.
As a runner up in the Junior Officer category, Lt. Kimberly Rios was noted for her volunteer work with Operations Allies Refuge at Naval Station Rota, Spain, where she positively impacted the lives of 2,500 Afghan evacuees, primarily women and children.
Senior Enlisted runner up Senior Chief Musician Erin Horn set herself apart as a leader who champions the diversity of thought and people, and advocates for her Sailors. She has worked extensively to identify obstacles for women’s retention and promotions, and has taken action to alleviate these hurdles for future Sailors.
Junior Enlisted honorable mention Navy Counselor 1st Class Lauren Lemmel was recognized for her work as a passionate career counselor, taking the initiative in establishing the first TOCRON-10 Command Advisor on Parenthood and Pregnancy Program.
These Sailors and the rest of the nominees are living proof of the legacies of Hancock and Der-Vartanian.
Der-Vartanian made history as the first woman in the U.S. Armed Forces to be promoted to the rank of E-9. Hancock guided the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) through difficult years in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a period that saw the Navy's women achieve status as part of the regular Navy.
Both of these iconic Sailors spent the majority of their lives acting as stewards for the integration of women in the Navy, blazing the trail for this year’s awards recipients.
This year’s return of JWLS and the presentation of the Capt. Joy Bright Hancock and Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Awards marks each’s first in-person event since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the “Joint Day” events of the two-day symposium, the awards were also presented by Vice. Adm. Lisa Franchetti, the director of Policy, Plans, and Strategy of the Joint Staff, Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, SSLA Chair of the Board and the president of Naval War College, and Capt. Emily Bassett, SSLA president and the force nuclear propulsion officer of Commander, Naval Air Force, Pacific.
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