Also Featuring … 2008 Diversity Leaders • Perspectives • 2009 Catalyst Awards • MicroTriggers
Volume 11, Number 2 March / April 2009
Expert Thoughts on Diversity
Special Features Global Diversity and Inclusion Surviving the Economy
Emphasizes Diversity 2009 is a unique year in the history of the United States Navy. For the first time in their history, there are four black Vice Admirals (VADMs). They are Commander, Naval Surface Forces/Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet VADM Derwood C. Curtis; Naval Surgeon General VADM Adam M. Robinson, Jr.; U.S. Second Fleet Commander VADM Mel Williams, Jr.; and Naval Inspector General VADM Anthony L. Winns. Profiles in Diversity Journal is privileged to have had the opportunity to interview each VADM individually, and discuss the history and opportunities that the Navy has provided them. We are honored to present to you our exclusive interviews with these four amazing officers. But first, an overview of the Navy in general, and its commitment to diversity in particular…
GLOBAL / MARKET ISSUES The United States Navy has approximately 350,000 active duty and 125,000 reserve, operating 283 ships in active service and more than 3,700 aircraft. It is the largest navy in the world with a battle fleet tonnage greater than that of the next 13 largest combined. The U.S. Navy also possesses the world’s largest carrier fleet, with 11 in service and one under construction. Organization Name: United States Navy
How does the Navy define diversity?
Headquarters: Navy Pentagon, Washington, DC Web site: www.navy.mil Primary Business or Industry: Global Maritime/National Defense
Diversity is the inclusion of all the different characteristics and attributes of individual Sailors and civilians that enhance the mission readiness and warfighting capability of the Navy.
Are there unique opportunities in the Navy for implementing diversity programs? Today, the number of citizens who are eligible for military service is smaller due to numerous factors, including disqualifying physical, medical, and educational factors. 2
Pro f i les i n D ive rsit y Journal
As America’s demographic make-up shifts, the Navy, other services, and corporate America are directly competing with each other for the top talent of our nation. Competition for talent will be fierce and the winners will be organizations that fully embrace diversity. Embracing diversity creates an environment of excellence and continuous improvement. This leads to continued mission success and readiness by leveraging the differing perspectives of our talented workforce.
LEADERSHIP What mentoring programs does the Navy implement? Organizations establish mentoring programs for a variety of reasons, but ultimately the goal is to help an individual achieve the maximum potential they can within the organization. The Surface Navy must develop, implement, and instill a mentoring culture within each Command where every Sailor has the opportunity to achieve their maximum potential. Effective mentoring programs must be living programs where the mentor and protégé establish clear goals and evaluate those goals on a regular basis. In addition to Command-level mentoring programs,
Interviews conducted By Damian P. Johnson and were made possible by Lt. Karen E. Eifert (email@example.com) and the staff of the U.S. Navy Diversity Directorate. Reprinted with permission
Navy Seeks Diverse Talent Across Nation; Aims to Retain Brightest By Lt. Karen E. Eifert Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate
The Navy’s Strategic Diversity Working Group (SDWG) recently held its third biannual conference to discuss an aggressive plan to meet challenges facing the Navy in assessing, retaining and developing Sailors from diverse backgrounds.
said. “We know we need to build an influencer base with teachers, parents, government officials, business leaders and Navy-friendly groups, and that’s what we’re doing. In return, we believe they will help us by referring applicants our way.”
“Working together as a group to pursue diversity across the total force is much more effective than individual enterprises or communities pursuing their own initiatives,” said Captain Ken Barrett, head of the diversity directorate and host of the conference. “I’m pleased at the progress we’ve made, and this conference multiplies our effectiveness.”
Involvement in community and educational outreach events helps promote Navy retention, recruiting and awareness.
Meeting presenters and discussion offered fresh thinking and alternative perspectives with respect to how to further Navy diversity and reach a sustainable force structure.
of Baby Boomers. Barrett acknowledged generational differences during the conference, and stated that the number-one priority of Millennials continues to be the desire to maintain a balance between personal and professional lives.
The working group detailed a plan to more aggressively promote awareness about the Navy in communities throughout the nation to create earlier positive awareness. “We’re actively moving from episodic to sustained engagement,” Barrett
Also discussed was the Navy’s current demographics and how these numbers affect recruiting efforts since 55 percent of the Navy is from Generation X members, and 43 percent are Millennials. Only 2 percent of the Navy is made up
“N1 and Navy’s Task Force Life/Work have listened and continue to listen to what our Sailors are saying is important to them. Supporting healthy Navy families with Life/Work incentives continues to be a top Navy priority,” he said.
the Surface Navy must leverage a mentoring culture to groom our future leaders by guiding them into appropriate education programs and challenging career assignments to develop the executive skills required for the future.
How is the Navy increasing the participation of talented diverse officers and senior enlisted personnel in high-visibility billets and executive ranks? Developing the future flag-pool must begin today with new accession Ensigns. Commanders must take the time to identify and prepare these future leaders with the right skill sets as they progress up the “career ladder.” Offering key billets to an officer provides unique insight into executive decision-making. Nominating the best and most qualified personnel to serve these key career development billets is critical to the success of these programs. Examples of these key billets include advanced/joint education opportunities, nominative billets such as Chiefs of Staff, Executive Assistants, Flag Secretaries/Lieutenants, and key OPNAV/JCS/COCOM/Fleet/TYCOM billets. Reprinted with permission
Alongside incentives and benefits, the presenters stressed that, while recruiting is important to a diverse force, an equally important part is mentorship. Participants commented on the rising popularity of affinity groups like the National Naval Officers Association, the Association of Naval Services Officers and other sea service leadership associations that offer mentorship and professional development opportunities. They expressed the need to support and expand mentoring opportunities across the Navy. At the conference conclusion, general agreement existed among enterprise communities, recruiting and outreach coordinators on efforts designed to showcase the Navy and emphasize the role it plays in defending the nation. “The (Chief of Naval Operations) has challenged us all to lead diversity initiatives through leadership, mentorship, service and example. This working group has aligned all our Navy efforts to do just that,” said Barrett.
EMPLOYEE INCLUSIVENESS How does the Navy bring women officers into the fabric of the organization? What programs are in place or on the drawing board to help them advance? Retention of female Surface Warfare Officers is critical to the health of the SWO community. Today, females make up 15.6% of the Navy’s Surface Force. However, women make up approximately 54% of all college students. This percentage is expected to grow steadily in the coming years. The Surface community must implement effective programs that retain this valuable segment of our workforce if we are to succeed in the future. Retention starts with command programs that foster a work environment where every Sailor’s contribution is welcomed. These commands must understand the unique role women play in our society, and adapt the work processes to allow this population of Americans to serve the Navy. Task Force Life/ Work Balance (TFLW) is addressing some of these issues, but Commands must lead this effort. PDJ
Prof iles in Div er s it y Jou r na l
Navy Leadership Emphasizes Diversity
Commander, Naval Surface Forces/ Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet VADM Derwood C. Curtis
Can you give us an idea of what it was like for you growing up and who had the biggest impact on you?
My mother was a really hard worker with a strong work ethic and I think I was taught that you have to work hard to get want you want in life. We lived on the south side of Chicago and we belonged to a small store-front church on the corner, and my pastor took a lot of interest in the young people. When we did well in school or in the community he’d make sure to recognize us. I think that gave all the kids a great sense of accomplishment. I went to a vocational school for high school because they were the football champions three of the last four years. My goals early in life were to play professional football and the coach was a Notre Dame grad who also had played at Notre Dame. I learned a lot from him as far as dedication, sacrifice, and taking pride in the things I did. I also joined the Junior ROTC in high school. My father had been in the military and I really loved the uniform. 4
Pro f i les i n D ive rsit y Journal
But in those days there was a combination of a lot of bad things going in Chicago. So there were choices one could make—good or bad. And the folks who had the biggest impact on me were my parents, my pastor, and my football coach. They set great examples and made me understand what I could really achieve. Did you play football in the Academy?
Yes. I was recruited for quite a few schools and Ivy League schools, but my coach knew that I was interested in the military and that I loved ROTC. He talked to the Naval Academy and said, “You may want to look into this.” So I did. And when I had the opportunity to visit the campus I was really impressed. I was also impressed with the mentality of the coaches and the quality of people I met there. That’s what really convinced me to attend. What was the first year in the Academy like for you?
It was challenging. It was also a culture shock because there were not many African Americans in the Academy then. Some of my classmates had never even been around black people before.
But I went into the Academy knowing that I was going to do the best I could, and I quickly understood that I was competing against the best of the best. So I came to the realization that I wasn’t in Chicago anymore and that it was going to be a challenge and that I really needed to work hard. And one of the great things about the Academy is that if you’re not passing your academics, you don’t play sports, you don’t play football. If you found yourself falling behind you needed to do something about it, and you needed to get some help. And part of the instructors’ job is to help ensure your success and make themselves available to the students. Did you have any mentors in the Academy?
In those days, we didn’t call it mentoring. We called it looking out for each other. But there were a few juniors and seniors who mentored and looked out for underclassmen. A few helped me with my study habits and helped put the right emphasis on the right class work. What made you become a Surface Warfare Officer?
Most folks who go to the Academy want to be pilots. I had the opportunity to fly jets out of Pensacola but it just wasn’t for me. But when I went onboard a ship for the first time I fell in love with the challenge of being out to sea. I was planning to join the Marine Corps in the Academy because I really liked the kind Reprinted with permission
Vice Admiral D.C. Curtis debarks the guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83) after a visit to speak with the ship’s officers and chief petty officers. Curtis addressed his plan to enhance surface forces readiness through all aspects of warfighting including training, maintenance, damage control, military bearing, uniforms, and the personal and professional development of every Sailor. (U.S. Navy photo by Electronics Technician 1st Class Maurice Valcourt)
of pride I saw in the Marines, but then I saw what a Surface Warfare Officer does and the kind of leadership skills they must have in order to do their job. I was immediately hooked and wanted the challenge, knowing I could instill a lot of pride in that role. Who are mentors today?
My wife is probably my most important mentor and confidante! She has really helped with our decisions and with my career with her support and advice. But I also talk with Admiral Harry Ulrich, who is now retired. He is one of the guys I worked for and I think that we have many common leadership traits. What is your mission—for yourself and for the Navy?
My mission is to be the best I can be and support our Sailors. My priority to my staff is to show up every day wanting to make a positive impact on them and the Navy. My leadership priorities are for the Chief of Naval Operations and for developing our future leaders. Briefly, why do you think the Academy continues to produce such top-notch performers?
The Academy instills pride and loyalty so that our Sailors can perform in leadership positions in the Navy and have rewarding careers afterward. The Academy
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The Academy instills pride and loyalty so that our Sailors can perform in leadership positions in the Navy and have rewarding careers afterward.”
gives the students the tools, the background and the education, and exposes them to the best leadership throughout the organization. It also tries to ensure that its students have the right moral compass and ethics to succeed anywhere and anytime. And taking all that into consideration, it continually challenges people to be better than they thought they could be. What is your mission within the Navy’s affinity groups?
The affinity groups are a great vehicle of information and professional development. We all relate differently, especially with the different generations of folks in the workforce. So the affinity groups’
mission is to provide professional development and camaraderie, and to give Sailors a sense of ownership. When I talk to the different affinity groups, the number one point I make is professional development. Just because they’re a member of an affinity group doesn’t guarantee them anything. The Navy looks at performance and leadership and how our Sailors sustain that performance and leadership. What are your plans after you take off the uniform?
I’ve always wanted to work with kids and coach football, but I’m really interested in education. I am where I am today because of the great officers and the great enlisted people who I worked for throughout the years. I used no magic wand to get to this point in my career. It was simply from the help and support of all the Sailors and knowing when to ask for it. I recently attended the Sailor-of-the-Year celebration in San Diego and it just sent chills down my spine being able to talk with and recognize the talented people we have in the Navy. I’d like to continue to be able to give that back, whether I’m in or out of uniform. PDJ
Prof iles in Div er s it y Jou r na l
Navy Leadership Emphasizes Diversity
Naval Surgeon General VADM Adam M. Robinson, Jr.
weeree the the schools were white schools in the east end of thee city. They weree d in in such su ucch h positioned that at they the hy a wayy that weere re w elll-ffina linan naanc nced, were well-financed, an nd shee knew kkn new ew her her and ch hil i dren n needed neeeede ded e children collllleg egee-pr e-p prep rep e a college-prep schoool sc o. school.
What w was as it as it like like li ke for for you growing grro ow wiing up?
I was born born bo n iin n Kentucky Kent Ke n uc nt uckky ky in n 1950, which means h me ean a s I hit elementary elemen en ntaaryy school s in Louisville ouisvilllle lll at at the thee time time im m when wh hen n the th schools ols were ree being bei e ng n desegregated. des eseg egregated d. Omar d. Omar Carmichael, michael, the th he superintendent superintendent su nt off the tth he schools ols at the time, tim ime, e,, was was vvery ery er ry progresprog pr ogre resssive and he felt that tha h t the th he public pu ubl b icc sschools c ools ch ls in in Louisville—after sville—after the th he Brown he Broown vs. Educa Education cati ca at on n rulingg in 1954—should 1954—shoul uld take ul take ke the lead leeaad and and an desegregate. gregate. I went to school in Louisville Loui uiisvvillle at at 5 yearss of agee at integrated schools. My M mother mot otheer was a great influence during those years. yea eaars rs.. My father was too, but my mother was very active with the parent/teachers association ti and d usually ll ended d d up being b i the th president of the PTAs and other parent organizations. Was there tension from the white families or the white kids at school when they started to integrate?
Not that I remember, but I was only 5 at the time. I do remember that my mother wanted her children to go to the best schools in Louisville and the best 6
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Did Di d yo you ou d decide ecide de e iin n hi h high gh h sschool cch hoo ooll th tthat haat at you wanted become w wa ant nteed tto o be bec com co me e a doctor? doc o to tor? r??
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In h In high iggh sc sschool hoool ol I p played laye la yed JV yed J ffootball. ootbbal oo ootb alll. I was very iinterested nteres nter nt e ted ted in te n iitt bu bbutt I broke my wrist wrist. The coaches were real interested in having me stay but I decided that I needed to move on to something a little less destructive. So I got involved in singing. I did a lot of work with choral groups in the area, and did a lot of solo work with all sorts of oratorical and opera type music. I also played French horn in the Louisville and Jefferson County Youth Orchestra for 5 or 6 years. When I got to University of Louisville I realized I wasn’t
dev evotee my evo m life to music, mu going to devote which is a very vveeryy demanding deeman man ndiing profession. profession. In I college college ol I was was a the the Supreme Suprem Court Justice Just Ju sticee for f r the residence fo resi ssiideence ncc halls association. I knew for the kneew kn ew all the he rules he rru ules and and regulations regulat dormitories. position doorm rmittor o ie ies. After Aft fter I finished finisshed that t I was student and waas a st tud uden e t re rrepresentative eprresen esen es e tative ta defended defend nd nded de fellow fello low w students s ud st den nts who who were sent to thee disciplinary dissci c pl p in inar arry board. boaard d. I never d. ne lost a case and and everyone eve veeryyon o e though thou oou ugh I was w on my way to law aw school. schoo ch hool. But Butt I went went to medical school ol instead. insste t ad ad. What Wh hat was was your you ourr first f rstt job? fi jo ob? b?
Thee first T Th firsst paid fi paiid job pa o I had ob had was w delivering in ng the American Amer Am eriiccan Defender, Deffen e der, r th the AfricanAmerican A Amer Am m ric i an paper pap per in in Louisville. Lo It came out Thursday eevery ver eryy Th er T ursd dayy aafternoon fternoon and was delivfte ft ered ed d ttoo us lat late ate at te Wednesday. W dnesday. So I spent all We after scho school hooooll oon n Th T Thursday ursday deliv delivering papers to my cu ccustomers. usttom om omers. That was an experieence en cee bbec because e au ec a se it was the first time ti in my liife life fe w where here I witnessed people who always he wanted w wa nted something but didn’t want to pay for it! So I had to work on ke keeping the books straight for it. What did you do for fun grow growing up?
I used to have a bike and my brother and I would go 8 or 10 blocks away from home and it was as if I had crossed the Sahara Desert. It felt like I was so far from home. That’s the thing I remember the best while growing up—going on those rides. I had the kind of childhood where both my parents allowed us to be children. As I got a little older I became interested in music. It wasn’t like studying for me, Reprinted with permission
Vice Admiral Adam Robinson (center), the 36th Surgeon General of the Navy and Chief of the Navy Bureau of Medicine, talks to U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen during the Benjamin Banneker Awards Gala. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Karen Eifert/Released)
because I always enjoyed music. I enjoyed it immensely. While I was growing up all five children were very musically inclined. So when we were growing up we had the Robinson quintet play all sort of different musical events. And when people would visit we would get our instruments and play our favorite music.
What was your biggest hurdle in life?
All the experiences that we have with our families and friends are the things that shape us into who we are.”
Is there anyone who had a big influence on you while growing up?
Yes, my grandfather George. He was a college graduate back around 1898-1899, and he was a huge influence on my life. How you are raised and what people are telling you when you are little makes a huge difference when you are growing up. And I was told I was going to college when I was very little. I also remember one high school teacher, Mr. Abrams. He used to say, “The sky is your limit. You can do whatever you want to do. There is no one stopping you but your mind and your willingness to accept less than you desire.” That was his theme. What makes you so committed to retaining minority officers in the Navy?
Several reasons: I’m African American. I understand what racial prejudice is. I understand what being different is. I understand what being treated differently is. I understand what being an American is. And I understand what service is about. Because I’ve been a member of the military for 32 years, I also understand that Reprinted with permission
as the country changes and as the demographics of the nation change, the armed forces have to mirror what the nation is. So I think that it’s a strategic imperative of the Navy—and a strategic imperative of any company—to have a workforce that mirrors our nation. You are now at the highest rank of surgeon general that the Navy allows. Where do you see yourself once you take the uniform off?
Howard Thurman, a 20th century theologian, described leadership as three things: 1. Know yourself and be comfortable with who you are. 2. Be responsible for your actions. 3. Be responsible for your reactions. The thing that has helped me the most, out of all the things that have happened, is to come to terms with and be comfortable with who I am. Also, to understand what my responsibilities are to the people around me. That’s what I’ve learned through my parents, through my elementary and high school teachers, and I really learned that in the Navy because of the leadership. The chain of command is such a big part of the fabric of the military. But I just didn’t wake up one day and realize I’d learned that. It’s a process and one that all of us have to work at. Like tending a garden; you have to work at it in order to get what you need. All the experiences that we have with our families and friends are the things that shape us into who we are. PDJ
My wife and I talk often about this now because I’m getting close to getting to that moment. First, we’re going to look for a place we want to live, but I’m looking to continue contributing to a university or higher education setting. I would really like to continue to do work with people with service in some fashion or another. Prof iles in Div er s it y Jou r na l
Navy Leadership Emphasizes Diversity
U.S. Second Fleet Commander VADM Mel Williams, Jr.
Who had the most influence on you growing up?
My father and mother were my biggest influencers. I am a son of parents who raised us very well. They inculcated the values that I currently have and helped provide that foundation. My father was in the Navy, and he entered in 1951 having graduated from a technical high school. He was very talented and intelligent, but when he entered the Navy, because of the times, he really didnâ€™t have the opportunity to pursue the things he really wanted to. So he was offered the job of a cook, which was typical for minorities at that time. He had lots of talents but was restricted to the areas he could pursue. But he armed himself with a positive attitude, and he rose through the ranks eventually making Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO), the highest enlisted rank in the Navy. And one of the interesting things my father initiated was a merger of two enlisted ratings. One was predominately
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populated by minorities called the Steward rating, and another, the Commissaryman, was primarily populated by majority enlisted people. It was his idea to merge those two ratings together and call it the Mess Management Specialist rating. He was able to get it approved through the proper channels and it had the effect of almost instantaneously providing equal opportunity for all people who served within that new rating. Was your dad gone a lot during his enlistment?
He went on many deployments. His first 17 years were on sea duty, and he spent a lot of time away, so my mother spent a lot of time with us. But when my father returned he would participate in our events and was very influential. What was the transition like between high school and the Naval Academy? Was there something in the academic work load in the Academy that you had to adjust to?
I think everyone has a natural ability. For me, I got through high school on my natural ability. When I transitioned from high school to the Naval Academy I re-
ally had to produce and perform above my natural ability. A turning point for me came when I was accepted into the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. Having been accepted at the end of my junior year, Admiral Hymen G. Rickover, head of the program, challenged me to study more and raise my academic standing. I had to study so many hours per week based on his request, and that really caused me to go to the next level. What I found then was true focus and I was able look past obstacles and distractions. It was then that I was able to retain information easier and grasp data and translate it to knowledge. What was it like for you to be heading for a career as an officer while your dad was enlisted?
My father went on to become a Command Master Chief for a destroyer tender as his final assignment until 1978. After that, he came to the Naval Academy and attended my graduation. We saluted one another, and, as tradition, I provided him with a dollar coin as the first salute from a new officer to an enlisted person. I entered as an officer and after that he retired. So it was sort of a â€œpassing of the batonâ€? in our service. Did the Navy encourage you to set goals and standards right from the start?
Yes it did. I believe in a commitment to excellence, which is a common theme
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Vice Admiral Mel Williams, Jr., Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, shakes hands with Retired Rear Admiral Lillian Fishburne, the Navy’s first female African American flag officer, after receiving an award honoring his military achievements during the Flag Officer Reception in recognition of the annual Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. The Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, created with the support of Justice Marshall in 1993, provides assistance in the form of merit-based scholarships to students attending historically Black public colleges or universities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andres Lugo/Released)
that I’ve tried to maintain throughout my career. What I mean by that is that it’s an acronym, ACE—A Commitment to Excellence. The “A” is maintaining a positive attitude, and I really got that from listening to my father and his friends. They were faced with many challenges, but I never once heard them complain. So I decided to take on maintaining that positive attitude regardless of the circumstances that were presented before me. The commitment aspect is a commitment to something bigger than self, and my personal commitment has been service to others through leadership with excellence as my standard. Regardless of what I do in life I always feel a need to serve others in some leadership capacity, and to do my very best in that regard. I established goals and those goals included becoming an officer and pursuing the submarine force, primarily because they were the most challenging. My father used to tell me, “If you’re going to do something, don’t limit yourself based on fear of failure, but try to do something that you think you’ll enjoy and something that is challenging and exciting.” What is your affiliation with the Centennial 7?
The year 2000 was the centennial of the U.S. Submarine Force. Working with the other six members, we talked about it and said, “Basically, in the first 100 years
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I believe in a commitment to excellence, which is a common theme that I’ve tried to maintain throughout my career. … My personal commitment has been service to others through leadership with excellence as my standard.”
.of the U.S. Submarine Force there have been seven African Americans who have had command of submarines.” I suggested we call ourselves the Centennial 7, and it stuck. And each year we attend an event called the Black Engineer of the Year Awards, and we invite lieutenants and midshipmen interested in the submarine force and the Nuclear Propulsion Program to sit in while we share our experiences. We have the opportunity to be open and talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly, with the idea of providing them with insights that might help them as they pursue their careers in the Navy.
You were recently awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award. Can you explain what this award is and what it means to you?
The Thurgood Marshall Award is presented to flag and general officers who are selected each year. It’s associated with a program that focused on reserve officer training (ROTC) for young people who are considering entering the armed services through college programs. The awards honor officers based on their careers, to provide inspiration to the young people who are considering military service. I was very honored to be among the flag and general officers who received the awards. To receive an award named after Thurgood Marshall, with his background and history, and the impact that he has had on our nation, is truly meaningful. What are your plans when you take off the uniform? Will you still be involved in networking with the affinity groups in the Navy?
It’s my passion serving and I’ll continue to do that and help out were I can. I’ll continue to remain tied to the Navy and to help young people. With respect to employment, I will certainly consider anything that aligns with my passion: Service to others through leadership. PDJ
Prof iles in Div er s it y Jou r na l
Navy Leadership Emphasizes Diversity
Naval Inspector General VADM Anthony L. Winns
Can you give a little history of your background—where you grew up and what life was like then?
I grew up in Jacksonville (Florida) and I attended segregated schools until high school. In those days, I remembered using what we called “hand-me-down” books. We didn’t have new textbooks. Sometimes we had books with pages torn out. I didn’t realize what I was truly missing until I got to high school and started receiving brand new textbooks. Until then, I thought that was the way it was. In my early childhood I remember signs on restaurants and bathrooms that read “colored-only” or “whites-only.” I remember going downtown with my mom and water fountains were for colored only or whites only. So I grew up with that. That was my early childhood experience. The first time I really had significant integration with whites was when I was selected to go to the National Boy Scouts Jamboree in Idaho. Three African American boys from my scout troop were selected to interview with the Northern 10
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Florida Council of Boy Scouts. We were interviewed by an all white council of scout masters and I remember that distinctly in my mind. On the bus it was just the three from Troop 193 and the rest were white boy scouts, and we got along fine. The next significant experience with whites was in ninth grade, my last year of junior high school. Duval County integrated their teachers. Fifty percent white teachers came to my junior high school and taught us. That was the first time I had had a white teacher and they took about 20 of us out of the classroom and taught us pre-algebra. I was good in math, but in ninth grade only a select few were taught it. When do you think you first started developing your leadership traits?
It was a combination of several things but it probably started in high school. I was in the band for 3 years, played varsity basketball for 3 years, and was captain of the team. Academically, I was never really in harm’s way. I excelled in all subjects, but math was my favorite. In 10th grade, when I got to high school, I didn’t have a math class because of the scheduling. So when I started my 11th grade year I real-
ized I was behind my white counterparts. Because I’d already taken pre-algebra in junior high, I doubled up with geometry and skipped Algebra 1, and got back on the college-prep program. Were your parents major influencers in your life?
My mother was mostly. She was a school teacher. She worked hard during the day and she taught adult education at night. So she gave back to the community. In those days the teachers didn’t make a whole lot of money. My mom and dad worked full time and I saw them struggle to make ends meet. So I thought if she can do what she’s doing to provide for me and my brother, surely I can do my part. I distinctly remember her going to Florida A&M University between my 5th and 6th grade years to get her master’s degree. One summer she took me with her, and that experience stands out as a highlight as to how hard she worked and how motivated she was to be successful in life. Did your mom have a philosophy or words of wisdom which really stand out in your mind?
She didn’t say these words exactly, but I heard this at a retirement ceremony and it reminded me of her. She showed me and conveyed to me on a daily basis: “Do as much as you can for as many people as you can for as long as you can.” And that’s how she lived her life. Reprinted with permission
Vice Admiral Anthony Winns takes time to congratulate high school student Alexandra L. Lyday for being recognized as the Pre-College Initiative Female Student of the Year while at the National Society of Black Engineers held in Las Vegas from March 25-29. Winns is a strong proponent of mentorship and mentors African American youth and service members whenever possible. (Photo by Lt. Karen E. Eifert)
Can you describe your transition between high school and the Naval Academy?
In high school I was an All-American basketball player. In my neighborhood growing up everyone thought they were going to be the next Earl-the-Pearl (Earl Monroe) or Walt Frazier. And since I had excellent grades I had lots of offers. In 1973, someone from the Naval Academy came to my high school and spoke to the students. When I heard him I thought, “Wow! The Academy sounds great. Great academics, physical training and basically a well rounded education.” In my mind it would be different than going to Harvard or Princeton, which would be purely academic. So I applied to my congressman and got the principal nomination to the Naval Academy. What was the first year at the Naval Academy like?
That’s an interesting question, because I didn’t have good study habits in junior high and high school, because that part was fairly easy for me. The first semester at the Naval Academy I realized the professors didn’t tell us everything we needed to know, and I had to get the other information on my own. It was a rather rude awakening. I also wasn’t quite prepared for the military nature of what I was getting into. There is more that you are required to do at the Academy than time you have to do it. So I had to learn how to prioritize. Reprinted with permission
Do as much as you can for as many people as you can for as long as you can. …My success lies in the success of those I’ve worked for, and I’m most proud of those that I’ve created an opportunity for.”
What does your job of Naval Inspector General entail?
My mission is to inspect and investigate any matters of importance to the Department of the Navy. We do inspections on commands and we look to make sure they are in compliance with the Navy. We also inspect the quality of life for navy personnel and their families, and we do special focus studies. For example, with the financial crisis we find ourselves in now we might want to know the financial health of our Sailors. Can they sell their homes when we order them to go from one duty station to another? What about the Sailors that are renting homes and the landlord goes into foreclosure? How are we taking care of our Sailors when they come back from the war?
What is your role in the Navy’s affinity groups and how does that role impact you?
I think it’s very important that I give back to the community and create a path for others who come behind me. I have made it a point in my career to help others. I was speaking on African American History in Japan and got asked a question about my success. My success lies in the success of those I’ve worked for, and I’m most proud of those that I’ve created an opportunity for. I’m also a lifetime officer of National Naval Officers Association, and I founded the Black Studies Club to enhance and take a look at the proud African History. I routinely mentor minorities on what it takes to make sure they get to the next level and continue to focus on what it takes to get there. How did you feel when you first became a Flag Officer? Your mother was such a proponent of education, but she never got to see you make this accomplishment.
My mother passed when I was a lieutenant junior grade in 1978. She was very young, only 48 years old. As I progressed through the ranks I thought my mom would be proud of me. When I put on my first star, that one was hard. Once I put on that uniform I looked straight up to the sky and thought—If mom could see me now. PDJ
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