Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Lt. Cmdr. Heidi Koski, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Cruz

Inspirational and innovative are just two words used to describe Capt. Dorothy Stratton, the first director of the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARS), and Master Chief Petty Officer Pearl Faurie, who in 1964 became the first woman master chief petty officer in the Coast Guard. They both displayed numerous leadership characteristics during their service and have become lasting legacies in the Coast Guard’s history books. Awards honoring each of them were established in 2001 to recognize two women who demonstrate exceptional leadership.

"Selfie" of Lt. Cmdr. Heidi Koski and Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Cruz at the Joint Women's Leadership Symposium. Photo courtesy of Koski.

“Selfie” of Lt. Cmdr. Heidi Koski and Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Cruz at the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium. Photo courtesy of Koski.

Stratton and Faurie mentored on and off duty, improved the working conditions and quality of life for their peers and subordinates, and lived the Coast Guard core values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty. As such, those leadership traits outline the criteria for the awards.

Lt. Cmdr. Heidi Koski was the recipient of the 2016 Capt. Dorothy Stratton Leadership Award and Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Cruz was the recipient of the 2016 MCPO Pearl Faurie Leadership Award. The awards were presented Tuesday during the Sea Service Leadership Association’s 29th Annual Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.

Lt. Cmdr. Heidi Koski

As the patrol boat product line program depot maintenance branch chief at Surface Forces Logistics Center in Norfolk, Virginia, Koski is responsible for all facets of planned maintenance for 116 patrol boats world-wide. This includes managing over $43 million in maintenance funding and supervising nearly 40 geographically-distributed asset project managers and port engineers from Guam to Bahrain. Koski was instrumental in executing the Bow-to-Stern program, a rotating pool concept which created production efficiencies at the Coast Guard Yard, saving nearly $3 million in recurring costs. Through exceptional leadership, she distinguished herself and created a team that is tremendously successful in supporting almost 209,000 operational hours per year for Coast Guard patrol boats.

Lt. Cmdr. Heidi Koski with her family. Photo courtesy of Koski.

Lt. Cmdr. Heidi Koski with her family. Photo courtesy of Koski.

Aside from being an outstanding Coast Guard officer and engineer, Koski is an active community member who dedicated numerous hours off duty to the Chesapeake, Virginia Service Unit’s second annual Girl Scout Cookie Classic 5K running event. Her volunteer efforts established the race as a credible event in the community and generated over $4,000 to further the Girl Scout Leadership Experience in the Tidewater area. As a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient, she is a member of the Gold Award Council for the Girl Scout Council of the Colonial Coast, and provides guidance and mentorship to young women following in her footsteps.

Koski’s community outreach is extensive. She further employs her passion for running by volunteering at organized road races in the local area. Virtually every weekend is dedicated to supporting a community project across a wide variety of organizations, all devoted to providing opportunities to women and veterans.

“The Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium is an experience like no other. Being in the same room as heroes such as retired Army General Ann Dunwoody, the first female four star general and retired Air Force General Wilma Vaught, leader of the Women in Military Service to America Foundation, is an honor in itself,” said Koski. “To receive an award at this event was almost surreal, and of course, a huge honor. It is a testament to the amazing leaders, both men and women, that I’ve had the pleasure of working for and with so far in my career, who taught me to put others first.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Cruz

Cruz currently serves as Station Port Canaveral’s only electrician’s mate and has full responsibility for the upkeep of an aging, 11-acre property with more than 12 station building structures. Cruz continually goes above and beyond in assisting with pier-side engineering support to five tenant commands. She quickly identified herself as a proven and trusted leader with judgment and maturity well above her pay grade.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Cruz. Photo Courtesy of Cruz.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Cruz. Photo Courtesy of Cruz.

Cruz serves as the unit’s Leadership Diversity Advisory Council chair, where she holds quarterly council meetings and engages the crew on leadership development, fully keeping the command advised on all concerns. When she is not hard at work on her rate or collateral duties, she is routinely found in the galley helping the staff prepare lunch for the crew, in the armory helping clean weapons, or in the classroom helping shipmates plan for their college degree, register for courses and prepare for college exams.

Cruz also goes above and beyond in volunteer efforts. She volunteers her time to provide concierge services to new mothers at the Cape Canaveral Hospital’s maternity ward, contributing over 50 service hours in 2015. She is one of Station Port Canaveral’s two Victim Advocates and earned credentials as a nationally certified professional working on behalf of victims of crime.

Cruz has been an inspiration to those who serve alongside her. Her dedication to her craft, crew and community is beyond reproach. She is a true representative of the core values of the United States Coast Guard.

“I am definitely honored to receive this award, especially being the only female engineer nominated,” said Cruz. “I greatly enjoyed being part of the ceremony with so many other deserving women.”

This year, 20 Coast Guard members were nominated for the Capt. Dorothy Stratton leadership award and nine members were nominated for the MCPO Pearl Faurie leadership award. Each nominee demonstrated inspirational, innovative, and imaginative leadership and mentorship while making significant contributions to improve the Coast Guard.

Congratulations to Lt. Cmdr. Koski and Petty Officer Cruz, as well as all of the nominated members!

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

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