ZOOM: The Forgotten Kingdoms and Empires of Africa

Topic: Forgotten Kingdoms and Empires of Africa
Time: Mar 27, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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By CAPT Gary J. Powe, SC, USN (Vice-President, DCNNOA)

The Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) led by Chapter President, CAPT Tom Abernethy, USN (Ret.) once again demonstrated the sustained superior performance that it has been renowned for by winning several awards at the 2018 Professional Development and Training Symposium at the Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel held August 8-9, 2018.

LCDR Desmond Walker, USN

Included in the list of awards the chapter received is the highly coveted Dorie Miller Award. This is the highest individual award in NNOA and is awarded to the member who has excelled in the accomplishment of NNOA goals and objectives. This year’s recipient was DCNNOA’s very own LCDR Desmond Walker, USN currently serving as Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N00Z). He has been critical in the mentoring and advising of African-American nuclear trained officers as part of the Black Surface/Submarine Nuclear Network (BSNN). LCDR Walker additionally is highly engaged at his alma mater, Norfolk State University. His efforts at the NROTC unit have proven significant in the mentoring, advocacy and professional development of Midshipmen at this Historical Black University.


DCNNOA was also recognized for Outstanding Chapter Newsletter, Outstanding Chapter Programs and Overall Outstanding Chapter (large category) at the Virginia 2018 Symposium held on  8-9 August.

The Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Naval Officers Association (DCNNOA) has established a legacy of leadership, mentorship and community service for those associated with the sea services in the greater metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. The chapter continues to make a difference; exemplifying the strength that comes from making the best use of diverse talent. During the 2017-2018 reporting period, DCNNOA has remained true to the calling and the mission of NNOA on both a local and national level. The chapter continues to build on the programs that have been synonymous with the distinguished name of NNOA. The chapter’s continued success is a testament to the resilience of its membership and the dedication of its Executive Board. DCNNOA recognizes that we are responsible for developing a new generation of leaders from both within and outside of our ranks. The variety of mentorship and sponsorship activities conducted by DCNNOA has the sole purpose of fostering and nurturing the strength found in a truly diverse society. DCNNOA continues to realize the value of working with and in support of others as it undertakes a lifecycle approach to talent development from middle school through public service to private sector transition. DCNNOA uses innovative partnerships and co-sponsorship with members of the military, the community and business arena to achieve its goals. DCNNOA maintains strong ties with service organizations with goals similar to its own like The ROCKS, Inc., collaborating together on professional, community and social events.

Our signature chapter program for DCNNOA is the annual Ester Boone Memorial Scholarship Banquet. This year was the 30th edition of this phenomenal event. Our guest speaker at this year’s event was VADM Kevin D. Scott, USN, Director, Joint Force Development (J-7). Thirty-seven scholarships were awarded to graduating seniors from high schools in the Washington, D.C. Metro area (Maryland, D.C. and Northern Virginia), totaling over $60,000.

DCNNOA programs such as the chapter’s scholarship program, the Annual Ester Boone Memorial Scholarship Award Banquet and the Annual Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital visit continue to provide the foundation from which new initiatives are born and will continue to serve as the basis for our chapter’s growth and advocacy throughout the Washington, D.C. community.

DCNNOA – Washington, D.C Veterans Hospital Visit


The Historian Review – Nov 2018

NNOA 2018 Symposium – “A Tremendous Experience of Discovering Leadership, Professional Development, Training Opportunities, and Teamwork Within the Ranks of the Sea Services.”

By Roosevelt “Rick” Wright, Jr., Ph.D., CAPT., USNR(ret)
NNOA Historian

On the Banks of the Elizabeth River, and The Main Ship Channel for Ships of the Atlantic Fleet, sits the Renaissance Portsmouth/Norfolk Waterfront Hotel, where on the 8th and 9th of August 2018, The National Naval Officers Association held its’ 46th Annual Symposium. This gathering of very impressive, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corp., and U.S. Coast Guard Officers, plus civilian personnel, was a “fantastic, spirited, and most productive event.” This years’ theme, “Embracing Diversity to Strengthen the Sea Services,” was supported by an array of notables, such as Sea Services Chiefs, ADM John M. Richardson, USN, Chief of Naval Operations, and ADM Karl L. Schultz, USCG, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. This years’ 2018 Symposium was blessed with the attendance of “Living Founders and Incorporators of NNOA,” Capt. Claude Williams, USN(ret), The Honorable Buddie Penn, Former Acting Secretary of the U.S. Navy, and LCDR Richard West, USN(ret). Congressman Robert C. Scott, who represents the third congressional district of Virginia, was a wonderful luncheon speaker, and his remarks were most delightful and stimulating for his support of the Sea Services. Mr. John Rowe, Mayor of Portsmouth, Va., presented words of further support for the work of NNOA, during the opening ceremonies.

A major opening activity for the NNOA 2018 Symposium was the annual Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Program (STEM) that was held at U.S. Coast Guard Base Portsmouth, Va. At this event, 58 local tidewater youth were treated and participated with some of the latest technology used in the carrying out the various missions of the Sea Services. Dr. Melvin T. Stith, Interim President of Norfolk State University, presented a “most powerful, opening presentation,” on the excellence of obtaining an education in the field of technology. The luncheon Keynote speaker was CAPT. Donnie Cochran, USN (ret), Naval Aviator and former Commanding Officer of the Elite Naval Flight Demonstration Team- “The Blue Angels.” His presentation on developing “leadership qualities and productivity in STEM fields,” was shown to this group of exceptional youth, by his management skills in commanding, and flying with the Blue Angels Flight Team. RADM William Kelly, USCG, Assistant Commandant for Human Resources presented his message about the importance of a STEM based education for tomorrow’s work force.

During this Seven Hour NNOA STEM event, the students representing 37 local tidewater schools, grades 8-12 had the opportunity to see Two Navy Helicopters, a H-53 from HM-15, and an H-60 from HSC-22, from NAS Norfolk. These assess along with various operational demonstrations, and Q&A discussions, plus an introduction to the overall relationships to STEM based education careers, and opportunities was presented. Towards the end of this event, and after a strong “Life Skills Session,” was held, one rising high school senior received the CAPT Donald Flowers, USN, Scholarship Award. This $500 Award was presented to the NNOA STEM participant who “demonstrated superior knowledge and performance in the related activity competition.”

The Attendance at NNOA 2018 included 235 fully registered attendees, and 21 speakers from all sea services families. Representation was as follows, 97, U.S. Navy; 89, U.S. Coast Guard; 39, U.S. Marine Corp; 1, U.S. Army; 3, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association; 2, U.S. Public Health Service, 4, Civilians. The full spectrum of rank, 7, Midshipmen, to Flag was present with many junior officers, 0-3 and below, attending one or more informational sessions. NNOA’s efforts to increase junior officer membership, resulted in an increase of 53% attending this years’ symposium. LtCol Jason Davis, USMC, and membership director of NNOA is “spearheading major efforts in increasing the membership of NNOA.”

The Renaissance Waterfront Hotel was a most efficacious location, with the aesthetics of Naval, Coast Guard Vessels, Water taxi’s, Yachts, Tugboats, and barges plying outside on the river conducting their missions. While inside the hallways, conference/meeting rooms, auditorium, patios, and ballrooms, NNOA’s 2018 Symposium was in a mode of celerity with an array of notable and illustrious participants. This years’ theme, “Embracing Diversity to Strengthen the Sea Services,” set the cognitive tone for the message content presented in the various panel discussions, and keynote speakers. Highlights of these most impressive content providers and sessions are as follows for those in attendance.

Setting the atmosphere for the symposium were Two Life Skills seminars, one entitled, “Financial Planning,” and the other, “Building Wealth in Real Estate,” were presented on Tuesday night, which was prior to the official opening sermon on Wednesday morning. The sessions were most informative, and well attended by the membership.

Representation from our Sea Services, had many notable VIP’s in attendance, some of our U.S. Navy Family members, were The Honorable Buddie Penn, Former Acting Secretary of the Navy; ADM John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations; ADM(ret) Cecil Haney; VADM Kevin Scott, Director, Joint Force Development; Ms. Steffanie Easter, Director, Navy Staff; RADM(ret) Sinclair Harris, President, National Naval Officers Association; RDML Stephen Evans, Commander, Carrier Strike Group TWO; RDML Jesse Wilson, Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic; RDML(ret) Annie Andrews, Assistant Administrator for Human Resources Management, Federal Aviation Administration; CAPT Donald Nisbett, Deputy Commander for NROTC Operations; CAPT Tara McArthur-Milton, Former Director for U.S. Naval Academy; CAPT Robert Dews, Safety Officer, U.S. Naval Academy; CAPT(ret) Donnie Cochran, Former Commanding Officer, U.S. Navy Blue Angels; COL Arthur Athens, USMC, Director, Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership; and CDR Michael Files, OPNAV N1, NNOA Navy Service Affiliate.

The U. S. Marine Corp, also had major representation, and “Semper Fidelis” to these notables, LTGEN Mark Brilakis, CG, Marine Forces Command; MAJGEN Craig Crenshaw, Director, Manpower and Reserve Affairs; BGEN Wiliam Seely III, Director Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communications; BGEN William Swan, Director, Manpower and Reserve Affairs; COL DeWayne Whiteside, Branch Head, LPO, I&L; COL David Everly, Commanding Officer, The Basic School; COL Reginald Hairston, G1, Marine Forces Command; LtCOL Quintin Jones, J3, NATO; COL Christopher Shaw, SJA, MCCD&I; LtCOL Jefferey Godfrey, OPSO, The Basic School, and COL Anthony M. Henderson, Branch Head, PP&O, Marine Corp Affiliate NNOA.

The “Pea Island U. S. Coast Guard Life Saving Surfmen of the Mid-1800’s, on the North Carolina Coast,” were probably beaming in “heaven,” as they watched the Coast Guard Family notables on board for NNOA 2018. ADM Karl Schultz, Commandant, USCG; VADM Charles Ray, Vice Commandant, USCG; RADM Meredith Austin, CO, District 5; CAPT Tom Walsh, Coast Guard Recruiting Command, USCG; CDR Shameen Anthanio-Williams, Pentagon Liaison, USCG; CDR Kristina Lewis, Office of Personnel Management, USCG; and LCDR Paul Green, Reserve Affairs, USCG.

Serving as Keynote Breakfast and luncheon speakers, plus panelist, these Senior Sea Service Leaders presented “information and guidance on a myriad of enlightening topics, including; honing leadership skills, joint service, career management, operational competence, life skills, mentoring, and recruiting.” Further our professional and experienced VIP’s, emphasized, “how the Naval Services must lead by measurable actions, that will increase professional competence, inclusion, and maximizing the talent recruited and within the ranks.”

Two Notable VIP’s, Congressman Bobby Scott, representing the Third Congressional District of the State of Virginia, was the Keynote Speaker for the opening of NNOA 2018 Symposium. And for the first time in the History of the National Naval Officers Association Conferences/Symposium, a President of a Historically Black College and University, Dr. Melvin T. Stith, Interim President of Norfolk State University, and Home of an outstanding NROTC unit was our “Gala Keynote Speaker for Our Awards Banquet and Dinner.” Also, the list of notables attending at various stages, were Mr. John Rowe, Mayor of Portsmouth, Va.; RADM(ret) Mark Buzby, Administrator, Maritime Administration; RADM Syvia Trent-Adams, Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health Service; RDML Nancy Hann, Deputy Director, NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations; and COL(ret) Brian Anderson, USAF, Director, Career Transition & Member Services.

NNOA 2018 culminated with the presentation of annual awards at the Gala Banquet Dinner, “The Dorie Miller Award” for Excelling in the accomplishments of NNOA goals was presented to LCDR Desmond Walker, USN, (OPNAV N00Z). “The Captain John G. Witherspoon Award,” for Excellence in Leadership and Mentoring was presented to CDR Michael Files, USN, (OPNAV N122R). Receiving the “Lifetime Achievement Award, was CAPT Robert Dews, USN, (USNA), who 34 years ago received a scholarship from the DC Chapter of NNOA. This award lead to a “fantastic Naval Career as an Aviator,” which started after receiving his B.S. Degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. Upon completion of undergraduate studies at Southern University, CAPT Robert Dews, USN, was one of the “Navy Pioneers of the Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program(BDCP),” and received his Naval Commission as an Ensign, after graduating from Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School in 1989.

The use of Social Media technology and Mass Media tools were widely used in telling the NNOA 2018 Symposium Story. WAVY-TV, Channel 10, NBC affiliate, Portsmouth, Va. and Broadcast Journalist Kara Dixon presented major coverage of NNOA Events. CAPT Mike Francis, USN(ret), IT Specialist for NNOA, Kwan, NNOA Web Master, Roosevelt Rubin Wright III, Junior, Public Relations/Public Diplomacy Major, S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University, and Mr. Eric Martin Labat, Award Winning Photographer of Norfolk, Va., were audiovisual and social media content providers. Video interviews with notable VIP’s, Photographs, Stories, Social Media Post about all events can all be found by visiting NNOA.ORG.

The National Naval Officers Association 2018 was a “huge success,” with a wonderful election of our new President, “Longtime NNOA Pioneer and Leader,” RADM Sinclair M. Harris, USN(ret). His message of “FULL SPEED AHEAD,” with the Mission of Chapter Empowerment, Growth of Membership, A Greater Symposium 2019 in San Diego, California, and The Implementation of the Strategic Review, that will take NNOA to Greater Heights in Providing Leadership and Diversity for the Sea Services.

Commander Denise J. McCallaCreary, USN(ret), Immediate Past President of NNOA leaves us with this message, “I was extremely pleased with the attendance, the participation of Senior Sea Service Leadership, and their commitment to diversity in the sea services. I believe there is a momentum and appreciation for NNOA, and what was as an organization can do to support their diversity mission. While this is my last year as President, I am excited for the future of NNOA.”

As we close out this review of NNOA 2018 Symposium, “Lets’ Never Forget the Incredible Work of Our Founders and Visionaries in Establishing the National Naval Officers Association in the 1970’s.” See you next year in San Diego, California, Navy, Marine Corp., Coast Guard, NOAA, and USPHS, SEA SERVICES FAMILY MEMBERS, ”BZ To ALL”

Respectfully Submitted,
Roosevelt “Rick” Wright, Jr., Ph.D., CAPT., USNR(ret)
NNOA, Historian

JO in the Spotlight

JO in the Spotlight
By LTJG Shakeitha Lewis. Navy BFM Intern

In June of 2014 I received my selectee notification on BOL as an OCS Candidate with the 3100, Supply Corps designator. It took me a year and three non-select notifications before I finally got the news I desired. I enlisted in the Navy at the tender age of 18 from Houston, TX. I qualified for the Air Traffic Control rating, which I knew was a great job that could catapult me into a world of success if I chose to end my career in the Navy after my first enlistment. I served nine years as an Enlisted Sailor, completing successful tours at Naval Station Mayport, Tactical Air Squadron Two-One, deploying on the USS Kearsarge and the USS Bataan, and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans. During my enlisted tenure I took advantage of programs such as Tuition Assistance, the Montgomery GI Bill, and the NC PACE Program, which enables Sailor’s to continue their education in a class-like setting or via distance learning while deployed.

It was through these two programs that I was able to complete both a Master’s in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting, graduating Summa and Magna Cum Laude respectively, during my enlisted career, which ultimately led to fulfilling my dream of becoming a Naval Officer. Although the road presented a lot of challenges, it was through perseverance, dedication, determination, and consistency that I was able to achieve my dream. As a Naval Officer, I have realized that while the workload and responsibilities increase, the principals of what makes a great Sailor and Leader are the same regardless of rank. It was through the aforementioned traits coupled with Honor, Courage, Commitment, accountability, and mentorship that my transition into the officer ranks have been somewhat seamless.

While the Navy Core Values and personal traits such as accountability, dedication and consistency are geared more towards individualized characteristics, it is through mentorship that these traits can be maximized. The National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) has provided me with a safe-haven of senior and junior officers that I know I can seek both professional and personal advice. I did mention that my transition to the Officer ranks were somewhat seamless, but it has not been without challenges. However, when faced with adversity I know can seek mentorship from my NNOA family to develop positive solutions. I am grateful for my experiences as an Enlisted Sailor, and I heavily believe it is those experiences that have molded me to the officer that I am today. However, as I move through the ranks and the trials intensify, I am truly appreciative to have the NNOA as a lifelong tool in my toolbox and truly believe every officer should take advantage of the professional and personal development opportunities provided by this organization.

2018 NNOA Symposium: From a JO Perspective

LT Nathaniel Davis, Assistant Vice President

The 2018 NNOA Symposium, held at the beautiful Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Portsmouth, was a fantastic experience! I’ve been a member of NNOA since my commissioning in 2014, beginning with the chapter in Okinawa, Japan. I’d always heard great things about the symposiums from other members, who raved about the event, so it became a mission of sorts to attend. I’d never been able to attend due to work and family obligations, so when the opportunity arose, I quickly jumped at the chance. My command leaders were familiar with the organization (some even current members) and supported my request to attend.

Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect. The stories I heard were of course the experiences of others, and I hadn’t reached out to my friends and colleagues to inquire if they were coming. A part of me wanted to limit my exposure so as to take in my own experience and have a “fresh mind” of the events to follow. Upon my arrival, there was a positive buzz within the hotel’s lobby. I saw uniforms that I hadn’t initially recognized but I was greeted by smiling faces and warm spirits. I almost immediately ran into some friends from the Camp Lejeune Chapter, which I served as President the past year. It was a pleasant surprise. From there, I met some Marine Officers who also had never attended and we bonded over burgers at the hotel’s restaurant area. So far so good! The scheduled social later that evening was an extension of the hotel lobby. We moved in droves and packed a nearby restaurant/sports bar. There were sea service officers from every corner of the globe. I looked on as long-serving and since-retired officers shook hands and hugged, delighting in a life not soon forgotten. There were sea stories abound and the rupture of laughter echoed throughout. I met a group of Coast Guard Academy students who were chopping at the bit to graduate and fulfill their obligation. I recall wondering, Where else would I meet and discuss career aspirations with Coast Guard Officers? The real question is more so, Why haven’t I met and discussed career aspirations with Coast Guard Officers? The scene was astounding. Goodwill was the monarch of this house and all those who entered, some unacquainted, would soon depart as friends.

The meeting sessions over the next two days were lobster and steak dinner of knowledge. We were treated to panel discussions on leadership that was both thought provoking and engaging. As a JO, I often wonder the “what” vs the “how”. What obstacles did my senior leaders push through? What improbable scenarios? What failures? I’ve attended MANY leadership events but I never fully felt right in understanding the failures that would bring success. The panel members, a mix of active duty personnel from every sea service and high–ranking civilians and as diverse as the organization’s emblem, spoke to the truths of their failures to success. No topic too strong. Every question, and there were plenty, answered with varying perspectives.

Still, my biggest takeaway from the symposium occurred after the day’s events. A few of the JOs decided to go out to dinner nearby and I swear we needed 3-4 servers because of how many of us came out. Navy, Marine and Coast Guard Officers sitting at a table and discussing the things that only we as JOs can understand. Real talk, no fluff and no filter. We were there for a professional symposium but there was also a clear need for a JOPA meeting. And, for me, that’s what the symposium represented. There is an old adage that a group of CAPTs/COLs become JOs again when in a social setting. It makes perfect sense. The youth of our careers (and lives) affords us a chance to view at a level we’ll never see again. Our challenges are different. Our focus is immediate and our gaze more narrow. We must check in on one another and this symposium afforded us that opportunity. We entered acquainted and departed as friends.