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 ​Presented annually at the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium hosted by the Sea Service Leadership Association, these awards recognize and honor the inspirational and visionary leadership of Navy Service members whose ideals and dedication foster an inclusive culture by reinforcing the integral role of women in the Navy.


CAPT Hancock served in the Navy as a yeoman (F) during World War I and worked between the world wars at the Bureau of Aeronautics where, among other achievements, she started Naval Aviation News magazine.

Serving as the liaison officer between the Bureau of Aeronautics and the Navy’s female reserve program, better known as the WAVES, an acronym for “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service” CAPT Hancock persuaded BuAer leaders to integrate the female reservists’ aviation training and to make widest use of the qualified WAVES.  Over 20 percent of the 90,000-plus female reservists worked in the aviation community performing a variety of duties ranging from air traffic controller to aviation mechanic.  They helped train most Navy pilots during World War II.

Hancock became the director of the WAVES in February 1946, and played an instrumental role in assuring passage of the Women Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, which created a permanent place for women in the peace time military.  She was one of the first six women sworn into the regular Navy that same year.  When Captain Hancock retired in 1953, she received the Legion of Merit for her contributions as the WAVES director.

Twice widowed by aviators, she overcame her fear of flying by learning how to fly herself.  In 1954, she married Vice Admiral Ralph Andrew Ofstie and was widowed for a third time two years later.  Hancock published her memoir, Lady in the Navy, in 1972.  She is buried in Arlington Cemetery with her husband, Admiral Ofstie.​​

MCPO Der-Vartanian joined the Navy in December 1943.  She began her career with several clerical and administrative positions in Washington, D.C., Great Lakes, Ill., and San Francisco, Calif.  In 1946, she was promoted to chief yeoman.

In 1949, Der-Vartanian accepted a supervisor position at the Naval Air Training Command in Pensacola, Florida.  She moved on to serve as the public information officer for Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and then served in the Personnel Office of Parachute Rigger and Aerograph Schools at Lakehurst, N.J.  In 1957 Der-Vartanian moved to Boston, Mass. to serve at the Public Information Office, where she remained until 1959. 

In 1959, while serving as assistant to the Global Strategy Officer at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., Der-Vartanian received her promotion to master chief petty officer.  With that promotion, she made history as the first women in the Armed Services to be promoted to the rank of E-9.  Noting the historic occasion, she received a personal letter from then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower congratulating her on her accomplishment.

Der-Vartanian retired from the Navy July 16, 1963.  Following her retirement, she joined the Central Intelligence Agency as a junior analyst and later became a counterintelligence specialist.  In 1991 she retired from the Central Intelligence Agency but later returned as a contract employee, where she remained until 2007.  
She was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in 2011.


Award Criteria


There are five leadership award categories.  One award winner will be chosen for each category.


Senior Officer (O4-O6)

Junior Officer (O1-O3)

Chief Warrant Officer/Limited Duty Officer (CWO2-O3E)

Senior Enlisted (E7-E9)

Junior Enlisted (E5-E6)


 Nominees should be mature leaders who have shown exceptional leadership over time and have persevered to overcome challenges while serving.  Nominees should also have demonstrated inspirational and innovative leadership, both on and off-duty, as well as professional accomplishments and community involvement.  The award is not gender-restrictive, but does place an emphasis on reinforcing and furthering the integration of women in the Navy.​


    • CDR Amanda Hawkins - Senior Officer
    • LT Victoria Gonzalez - Junior Officer
    • LT Marissa Brownfripp - LDO/CWO
    • CMDCM(SCW) Cajan Nelms - Senior Enlisted
    • STG1(SW) Sarah Clowry-Hughes - Junior Enlisted

    • CDR Laura McMullen - Senior Officer
    • LTJG Raven Stevenson - Junior Officer
    • LT Lyndsay Cirino - LDO/CWO
    • CMDCM(AW/SW/IW/NAC) Cynthia Baker - Senior Enlisted
    • AZ1(AW) Amy Kretchman - Junior Enlisted
    • CAPT Juliann M. Althoff - Senior Officer        
    • LT Christine M. Puthawala - Junior Officer       
    • LT Jennifer M. Baker-Story - LDO/CWO               
    • CPO Jessica. C. Kerr - Senior Enlisted       
    • PO2 Carrie S. Lasker - Junior Enlisted       
POC:  Navy Inclusion and Diversity:

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