SAN DIEGO - The Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Award was established in 1987 and is presented annually by senior Navy and DoD leadership during a special awards luncheon at the Sea Service Leadership Association (SSLA) Joint Women's Leadership Symposium (JWLS). This year's awards luncheon will be held June 13 in Norfolk, Va.
The junior enlisted recipient for this year’s prestigious award is Yeoman 1st Class(SW) Shanika Jones of USS Mobile Bay (CG 53). Rear Admiral Barbara Sweredoski, Reserve Deputy, Military Personnel Plans and Policy, and Dr. Jessica A. Milam, the Navy’s Women’s Strategy and Policy Lead visited Mobile Bay Feb. 14 to personally congratulate Jones on her achievement and meet with other female Sailors.
Sweredoski commissioned through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps, graduating from the University of Rochester, and has served a combined twenty-nine years as active duty and reservist. In speaking with Sailors from Mobile Bay, she reflected on how the experience and opportunities for female Sailors has changed from the humble beginnings of the reticent integration of female Sailors into the surface warfare community to the widespread acceptance across numerous warfare communities today. Celebrating these changes, Sweredoski, along with Milam, honored Jones’ personal journey and accomplishments that led to her receiving the Der-Vartanian award in recognition of her exceptional leadership.
Jones enlisted in the Navy in October 1998 and reported to Cryptologic Technician Administrative “A” School in Pensacola, Fla., upon completion of Basic Training. She has earned numerous personal awards throughout her career so far, to include Junior Sailor of the Quarter in December 2001, Zone 6 Recruiter of the Year in 2010, the 2011 Southeast Region Recruiter of the Year, the Navy Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (4th), Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal (4th).
In addition, Jones has completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, Master’s Degree in Forensic Technologies and received a Crime Scene Technician Certification from Kaplan University, all while maintaining her exemplary performance on the job and at home as a single mother to three.
In April 2012, Jones reported to Mobile Bay for duty where she serves as the Leading Petty Officer for the Navigation and Administrative Department. Additional duties include serving as the Command’s MWR President and First Class Petty Officer’s Mess President. Most recently she also served as the Command’s acting career counselor and lead Mobile Bay to a second consecutive “Golden Anchor” Retention Excellence Award for 2013. Jones’ dedicated performance is a perfect example of how passion and perseverance create limitless opportunities for female Sailors today.
Following the recognition of Jones, Sweredoski and Milam conducted a question and answer session with a group of Mobile Bay’s female Sailors. Topics included the challenges and opportunities ahead for complete integration of females in all warfare communities, the importance of mentorship among female sailors, and retention of female officers in the Surface Warfare community.
This opportunity to engage in discussion about current issues with policy makers allowed sailors to give relevant feedback to those who can implement real change Navy wide. Sweredoski’s presence emphasized leadership’s commitment to recognizing the importance of diversity and opportunity for all Sailors, and acknowledged the vital contributions of Sailors to the success of today’s Navy and that of the future.
Mobile Bay is currently undergoing a CNO’s Selected Restricted Availability in BAE Shipyard San Diego after returning from deployment in April 2013 and completion of eight months of follow-on sustainment operations. Mobile Bay is assigned to the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group and Commander, Carrier Strike Group Three.