Greetings Fellow Members and Supporters!

This week kicks off our annual Professional Development and Leadership Training Symposium recognizing our 51st year of making a difference. As we build on celebrating last year’s historic 50th anniversary, our National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) remains more relevant than ever to the success of our U.S. Sea Services. With the hard work and support of our members, partners, and sponsors, our efforts in the recruitment, retention, and career development of a more diverse and effective total force makes a positive impact on unifying and strengthening our nation daily.

This year’s theme is “NNOA: Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders Through Mentorship and Professional Development.” Our main action items are to educate, inspire, engage, and elevate current and future leaders by learning from our past to better prepare for success in the future. Those four words (Educate, Inspire, Engage, and Elevate) will be used a lot this week and this year as we move forward. From an educational perspective, we join our nation in celebrating the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9981 (Desegregation of Armed Services) and the 50th anniversary of our All-Volunteer Force. Both are key documents for NNOA’s very existence and are crucial elements of helping all leaders understand the mandate for a diverse force that operates in an equitable and inclusive environment. Additionally, our highly successful Youth STEM Event series continues to educate middle and high school students on scholarship and service opportunities. Our program lights the path for many students to serve as future military, government, and business leaders, thus enhancing our nation’s pursuit of a more perfect union.

From an inspirational standpoint, NNOA’s creation in 1972 by midgrade and junior officers on the campus of the Naval Academy is a story worth sharing and can be found on our website. Since then, NNOA has grown into the premier mentoring and coaching affinity group across all Sea Services, and we have significant representation in the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Transportation, among others. There are literally hundreds of inspirational stories of NNOA members successfully making a difference at the national, organizational, and individual levels, so please be prepared to share your story this week, both in person and on social media.

With respect to engagement, NNOA has been unwavering. Our dedication to mentoring, coaching, and advocating for a stronger and more diverse officer corps in the Sea Services remains the same and it’s our collective responsibility to seek innovative ways to get better. This year, we expanded our monthly and quarterly mentoring sessions across virtual environments, which ranged from Junior to Senior Officer sessions across East Coast, West Coast, and Forward Deployed forces. We have also strengthened our collaboration with the Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO), Sea Services Leadership Association (SSLA), and other like-minded organizations to synchronize our efforts going forward.

To elevate our activities to new levels of excellence, we have made significant progress in firmly establishing our NNOA Foundation. Doing so enhances our long-term fiscal stability while expanding commitments from our sponsors and supporters. As our partnerships expand, so do our impact and influence opportunities.

For those who are here attending the Symposium in person, thank you. I look forward to seeing you this week and ask that you take the time to meet and engage with at least five new people. Listen to their inspirational stories while sharing your own, and feel free to capture some of those moments on social media.

Thank you, as well, to our members and supporters who were not able to attend this year but continue to support our mission worldwide. The future success of NNOA rests on the shoulders of all of us.

Lastly, we can all benefit from applying the old proverb… “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together!”  NNOA has come a long way, and we have a long way to go. We are stronger together!

Cedric E. Pringle
RDML (Retired) USN
25th President