Professional association promotes diverse officer corps

National Naval Officers Association

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp meets with National Naval Officers Association members at their annual professional development and training conference in San Diego on Aug. 3. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Eleventh Coast Guard District public affairs contributed to this post.

The National Naval Officers Association helps junior and senior officers succeed in the sea services by promoting a diverse corps. While ships, aircraft and boats are important tools of our profession, Coast Guard men and women are the essential ingredient that ultimately achieves success in the services we provide.

National Naval Officers Association

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp speaks at a luncheon celebrating the Coast Guard's 221st birthday during the National Naval Officers Association's annual professional development and training conference in San Diego on Aug. 3. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Seth Johnson.

“People are our greatest strength and we honor them by promoting a climate of equality and respect so all can achieve their full potential and serve our great Nation,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp.

One way NNOA accomplishes their goal is by holding annual professional development and training conferences. This year’s was held in San Diego on Aug. 3. Adm. Papp addressed the full conference, including Coast Guard, Navy and Marines, as well as a luncheon for the Coast Guard’s 221st birthday where he shared leadership techniques and answered questions from the audience.

Coast Guard Academy Cadet 3rd Class David Parker, asked for the commandant’s insight on how to create a positive command climate. “Use your ears and not necessarily your mouth,” Papp said referring to his strong belief in servant leadership where leaders focus on the needs of people around them.

It was an important question for a future military leader. “What Admiral Papp talked about is going to influence my future position as a commanding officer or leader,” said Parker, adding, “I want to approach the position in the same degree of attitude and outlook he has.” When asked to describe how he would like to be viewed once he assumes a leadership position, Parker replied, “Humility … and confidence. Confidence in my crew.”

National Naval Officers Association

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp meets with Coast Guard Academy cadets during the National Naval Officers Association's annual professional development and training conference in San Diego on Aug. 3. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Another important goal of the NNOA is to promote diversity among the services, something very important to Adm. Papp. The Coast Guard uses programs like the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative to ensure everyone has access to apply to join the Coast Guard officer corps.

“We must attract and retain the best and brightest our Nation has to offer, enriching our team with a broad range of experience, viewpoints and ideas that ultimately make us better across the spectrum of our organization,” said Papp.

Coast Guard Ens. Miah Brown, who works in marine inspection at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia and graduated Officer Candidate School through the CSPI program, voiced her concern that the program could be on the chopping block with possible budget cuts looming.

“My favorite part of his [Adm. Papp’s] response was when he said ‘Not on my watch’,” said Brown.

She has been spending her time at the conference meeting with members who have been helping her network and gain insights into her future.

“This is my first conference and I plan on registering at the end of the day,” said Brown. “I have really enjoyed it here. I’ve been able to meet senior leadership who have a lot more experience than me and all do a very good job of giving guidance and help me set my next steps in the organization.”

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