October 2020 President’s Message

“May you live in interesting times.”
 – Frederic R. Coudert, 1939

The NNOA is needed more today than ever!

To say we are living in “interesting times” is an understatement for sure but captures what many feel about 2020.  Deaths and economic impacts from COVID-19, protests over racial inequality, wildfires across the western states, hurricanes so numerous that NOAA ran out of names, and all of this during a national election year.  “Unprecedented” and “exhausting” are two words that seem to come up when thinking about this year.  However, daunting these situations may be, this has been a year of great success for our National Naval Officers Association (NNOA).  Members of NNOA are in the middle of so much good that is happening to make our Sea Services and our Nation better.  It is impossible to list everything that we should be proud of in our organization.  Now is the time for NNOA to have even deeper and wider impact as a leadership resource for the maritime services and nation.  In this short message, I want to highlight a few of the key ideas and major concepts that I see for NNOA coming over the next year or so.

Relevance of NNOA Could Not Be Greater

Our own RADM Alvin “Bull” Holsey, USN, is leading TF ONE, and several senior members of NNOA are working in advisory capacities. U.S. Coast Guard NNOA members are currently serving as Diversity and Inclusion Change Agents and Action Officers for the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI) recruiting at Minority Servicing Institutions and serving as critical mentors throughout the ranks to provide career guidance to junior members. They are also taking a leadership role within the Commandant’s Affinity Group Council, aligning the strategic priorities of 10 affinity group organizations to improve policies that impact the entire workforce.  The Secretary of Defense Task Force on Race, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO)’s Task Force ONE (TF ONE), CCG Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, CMC’s Diversity and Inclusion Discussion Forum, CMC’s Talent Management Executive Council, and the Chief of Naval Research’s STEM Diversity Initiative are just a few of the major projects where NNOA members have been essential.

NNOA’s First Virtual Leadership and Career Development Symposium

Nearly 600 people signed up and attended our first virtual Annual Symposium.  Thanks to the incredible leadership and drive of our NNOA IT Chair – LCDR Marlon Heron, USCG – NNOA was able to seamlessly bring leadership from each of our Sea Services into a stimulating exchange with our members.  Headlined by the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC), Commandant of the Coast Guard (CCG), Commander of Fleet Forces Command, and many other Flag and General Officers, it was a professional development event like no other.  Our National Executive Vice President – CAPT Simonia Blassingame, USN (Ret) “Queen of ZOOM” – provided leadership throughout the Symposium that made each session engaging and stimulating to the audience.  Subject to pandemic restrictions, we will initially plan to return to a live/face-to-face or hybrid Annual Symposium next year, given the success of our 2020 all virtual event.

The Way Ahead for 2021

With the wind filling our sails from our recent Symposium, the ship of NNOA is set to sail at full speed through the rest of 2020 and 2021 on our way to the 50th anniversary in 2022.  We will adjust course and speed as is prudent and ensure our charts are updated regularly in order to deal what the realities of the time.  There are many projects and programs that are vital to keeping on course and speed. Specifically:

  1. Implementation of the NNOA Diversity Strategy (NDS) – Led by RDML Frank Ponds, USN (Ret), Dr./CAPT Bernard Jackson, USN (Ret), and CAPT Syd Abernethy, USN (Ret), the NDS will help guide NNOA to the next level of effectiveness.
  2. Establishing our NNOA Veteran’s Action Group – Led by CDR Ernie Taylor, USN (Ret), we have many outstanding leaders in NNOA who have transitioned out of active service but have a passion for supporting our members and chapters.
  3. NNOA 2021 Annual Symposium – LtCol Misca Geter, USMC is our new Eastern Regional Vice-President and leading our way to our next great Symposium in Portsmouth, VA.
  4. NNOA at 50 – Dr./CAPT Rick Wright, USN (Ret) our NNOA Historian, has the wheels in motion to make our 50TH anniversary celebration grand and set the stage for the future of NNOA.
  5. Establishing the Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. Award for high school students in the NJROTC programs. This award will be presented beginning in the spring of 2021 and recognizes leadership, mentoring, inclusion, and diversity displayed by our future leaders.  Our Regional VPs will seek your participation in the upcoming months as NNOA makes in-person presentations of this award once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

 The Year of the Captain and Colonel

For NNOA to live up to its potential, we need ALL HANDS ON DECK.  Every member of NNOA has an important role to play in fulfilling our mission. This year, I want to especially call on those officers who have successfully navigated their way to the highest level of senior officer our Captains and Colonels.  NNOA wants everyone to know more about your personal story.  I want you to share your wisdom regarding leadership, intelligence, passion, and strength with our members. I ask that each of you consider sharing your thoughts in our monthly post to our membership via our website and social media.  NNOA will recognize your courage and integrity in a world showcasing so few examples of these traits.   We know our members will find inspiration and encouragement from your experiences. Please email Dr./CAPT Mary E. McAdams, USN (Ret) at careers@nnoa.org, with your inputs. If you are not a Colonel or Captain but want to send your recommendation, please do.   Finally, I ask that each of our Colonels and Captains take on greater leadership positions in NNOA at the chapter or national level.  We need you now more than ever!

As Vice Admiral D.C. Curtis, USN (Ret) would often say, “KEEP CHARGING!”


RADM Sinclair M. Harris, USN (Ret)
President, NNOA

President Message – Feb 2019

Dear Shipmates of NNOA, 

Happy February! Your NNOA Board has been busy since we left the conference and making a positive impact on the Sea Services. Here is a quick update.

We continue to make progress in all four lines of effort and seek your input on how to accelerate our progress:

  • Chapter Empowerment – NNOA working as one entity with strong and vibrant chapters meeting the needs of our members where they live and work.
  • Membership Growth – Each member of NNOA reaching out to their friends, colleagues, and shipmates to enhance their careers in the Sea Services, PHS, MARAD and NOAA.
  • Symposium 2019 – Leveraging a great symposium in 2018 and responding to our members’ demands to make it even better as we return to San Diego, August 7th & 8th, 2019.
  • Implementation of the Strategic Review Plan – Prioritize, develop a roadmap, and adopt key recommendations from the Strategic Review.

CNO John Richardson, USN and I signed an updated Memorandum of Understand (MOU) last week and we are well on our way to requesting funding to support our 2019 Symposium. We anticipate having a NAVADMIN released early to give you enough time to make plans to attend August 7-8, Admiral Kidd Conference Center, Naval Amphibious Base, San Diego. This year our STEM program will be held August 6th, one day before the official opening of the Symposium. Please check our website for continuous Symposium updates. Sign up for alerts now to receive updates as they are posted.

The new Navy MOU, and the MOU signed by Commandant Karl Schultz, USCG are both available on our website for reading and downloading. We have high hopes to get a fresh MOU signed with the Commandant of the Marine Corps as well.

I held a “Town Hall” meeting for all NNOA members and appreciate your participation. Many asked that we continue to do this, especially for our At Large Members. The next one is planned for Saturday, 11 May.

Our Symposium Planning Committee lead by Western Region Vice President, Captain(S) Rod Rojas, USCG is hard at work. Thank you to all the members who participated in the Theme contest.  The final Theme was developed by our Theme Selection Committee (CDRs David Cooper, Shirl Johnson and Col Dorian Lewis). The NNOA 2019 Symposium theme is “Charting a Course for Tomorrow’s Leaders.”

Finally, we will launch a new Career Development Program in April. Please plan to join us for webinars where we will have guest speakers on career development topics using our newly procured webinar software. We want to offer sessions on a variety of career development topics but need your advice. Please click here and complete a short survey. The survey will close at midnight 28 February.

Very respectfully,

Sinclair M Harris
Rear Admiral United States Navy (Retired)
President, National Naval Officers Association (NNOA)

President Message Nov 2018

Sinclair M Harris

Rear Admiral United States Navy (Retired)

President, National Naval Officers Association (NNOA)

Honored Shipmates of NNOA,

A wise diplomat told me that there were three things you can never say enough – Congratulations, Thank You and I’m Sorry. This certainly fits for my first entry in the MERIDIAN.

Congratulations to the entire NNOA family of shipmates – active duty, reserve, retired, military families and civilians. Our organization continues to grow in numbers and impact in support of our mission. I have to give a special Bravo Zulu to the United States Coast Guard for its strong support and full engagement with NNOA. If NNOA can achieve and nurture a similar relationship with the other Sea Services, MARAD, NOAA and PHS there is no end to what can be achieved to improve diversity and inclusion. Please think about how we can make this happen at every chapter and organization.

Thank you to the members of the board for NNOA. The professionalism, passion and drive that I have seen from all the leaders both national and chapter level has been truly inspiring. I know each has many obligations and demands on their time, but our leadership team continue to drive hard to advance NNOA’s impact. I could not be prouder to serve as your president.

I am sorry that we don’t have a way to capture all the wonderful advancements, promotions, achievements and good news that is happening with our members. I hope that each of you that dabble in social media, will help by sharing your stories with us in FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Let us use the power of social media to set a more positive tone in our nation and enlighten many of the opportunities for service that are available in our Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Public Health Service (PHS), Maritime Administration (MARAD) and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

As you meet in your chapters and with other like-minded professionals, I ask you to keep our shared vision and lines of effort in mind. Consider how your activities and conversations can enhance the NNOA’s ability to become a premier mentoring and professional development organization. Let me, the board and your chapter leadership know your thoughts on each of the lines of effort listed below:
1. Chapter Empowerment – NNOA working as one entity with strong and vibrant chapters meeting the needs of our members where they live and work.
2. Membership Growth – Each member of NNOA reaching out to their friends, colleagues, and shipmates to enhance their careers in the Sea Services, PHS, MARAD and NOAA.
3. Symposium 2019 – Leveraging a great symposium in 2018 and responding to our members’ demands to make it even better as we return to San Diego, August 7th & 8th, 2019.
4. Implementation of the Strategic Review – Prioritize, develop a roadmap, and adopt key recommendations from the Strategic Review. CAPT (Retired) Tom Abernethy, the DC Chapter President, is at the helm of implementing the Strategic Review.

Please keep in touch and let us know your thoughts about this edition of the MERIDIAN and how we can take NNOA to the next level. FULL SPEED AHEAD NNOA!

Very respectfully,

SM Harris
RADM Sinclair M Harris, USN (Ret’d)
President, National Naval Officers Association (NNOA)