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Office of Naval Intelligence Official Receives National Award for Diversity Hiring Efforts

12 September 2022

From ONI Public Affairs

WASHINGTON – In a ceremony in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Leonardo Mendez of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) received the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) 2022 Excellence in Service Uniformed Services Public Service Award for his success in creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce in the intelligence community.

“It is inspiring for Mr. Mendez to be nationally recognized for his outstanding contributions not only to the ONI workforce, but to the broader intelligence community,” said ONI Deputy Commander Andrew Richardson. “His hard work has yielded exceptional results. Leo’s drive and ambition to draw extraordinary talent and a more representative workforce into ONI serves as an exemplary model for service to the country.”

Mendez has led new recruiting, hiring, and retention initiatives for ONI’s Farragut Technical Analysis Center since 2019, which has hired the most diverse entry-level workforce across the entire Naval Intelligence Activity organization, consisting of more than 40 commands worldwide. In 2020 and 2021, Mendez’s efforts resulted in Farragut hiring 41 developmental employees, more than 50% of whom were highly qualified female or minority candidates.

“To receive this award from an organization that supports and advocates for Americans like me is truly a great honor. I’m the first American-born son to two Cuban immigrants who fled Cuba for the United States after losing everything,” said Mendez. “Through their perseverance and never-give-up attitude, they rebuilt their lives and taught me the importance of hard work and a deep appreciation for everything this nation stands for. They truly lived the American Dream, and their story inspired me to dedicate my life to serve this great nation.”

Mendez has taken an active, in-person approach by participating in career panels and career fairs to mentor young minority professionals, giving career lectures in both Spanish and English during professional workshops, and representing Farragut as an Employer of Choice at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and schools representative of strong Hispanic student bodies.

And this is just the beginning; more candidates, who have met Mendez through his outreach, are currently in the onboarding process and slated to join various agencies in the intelligence community.

“There is no doubt that Mr. Mendez is deserving of this award, and the diverse and inclusive workforce that he has helped recruit will benefit the entire naval intelligence community,” said Capt. Robert Damsky, Commanding Officer of Farragut. “Leo’s leadership will ensure that the Farragut Technical Analysis Center and the Office of Naval Intelligence continues to draw new employees from unique backgrounds, building an intelligence community that is more diverse, inclusive, and capable of accomplishing its mission.”

The Farragut Technical Analysis Center is the U.S. Navy's Center of Excellence for strategic scientific and technical intelligence (S&TI) analysis of foreign technologies, sensors, weapons, platforms, combat systems, C4ISR, and cyber capabilities. In addition to its all-source capabilities, the Farragut Center conducts ONI's foreign materiel exploitation, signal intelligence analysis, modeling and simulation, and is home to the national maritime acoustic intelligence laboratory. The Farragut is one of four Centers of Excellence that are distinct Commands under ONI.

LULAC is the largest and oldest volunteer-based Hispanic organization in the United States, with 135,000 members, 67 technology centers, and 18 LULAC National Education Service Centers. LULAC values extraordinary voluntary activities by the uniformed services and civilians, and annually recognizes excellence in public service in the advancement of education, economic, health and diversity accomplishments, particularly within underrepresented populations of the United States.


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