Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Kenneth Stuart

Written by Lt. David Bourbeau

Ken Stuart, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England's Lead Command Center Controller, poses for a portrait, Friday, June 17, 2016. Stuart was awarded the 2016 George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership Award. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)

Ken Stuart, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England’s Lead Command Center Controller, poses for a portrait, Friday, June 17, 2016. Stuart was awarded the 2016 George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership Award. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)

There are often many parallels between great men.

Among them are inspiration, leadership, and legacy.

 

Throughout his 34-year Coast Guard career, Ken Stuart, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England’s Lead Command Center Controller, has served with distinction, committed himself in his daily work, and championed workplace improvements. These very qualities led to his selection as the 2016 winner of George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership Award.

The George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership Award is a prestigious national award that recognizes a Coast Guard civilian employee who exemplifies the Coast Guard’s leadership philosophy, principles, and core values. The award is named in honor of the first commissioner of the Lighthouse Service. Throughout his esteemed career, Putnam worked tirelessly on behalf of his employees to improve work conditions and implement an array of new benefits. He became known as an inspirational leader for those forward-leaning accomplishments.

Stuart, hailing from Eastport, Maine, decided on a life at sea at a young age. However, instead of becoming a fisherman, as many in his community do, he decided to enlist in the Coast Guard. Stuart attended boot camp in 1983 and then was sent to Station Belle Isle in Detroit. It was there that Stuart realized his love for the service and developed great passion for the search and rescue mission.

George R. Putnam was the first commissioner of the Lighthouse Service. Photo courtesy of the Lighthouse Digest.

George R. Putnam was the first commissioner of the Lighthouse Service. Photo courtesy of the Lighthouse Digest.

Stuart rose through the ranks from seaman to senior chief, and eventually commanded the Coast Guard Cutter Shackle, Station South Portland, and Station Jonesport until retiring from active duty in 2004 and joining the civilian ranks as Lead Command Center Controller at Sector Northern New England located in South Portland, Maine. Based, in part, on his vast experience, he has been able to implement many of his own forward thinking solutions to the unique issues encountered in today’s modern workplace.

Today, Stuart is still coming to work with the same level of enthusiasm and vigor he possessed as a young seaman. In 2015 alone he was directly responsible for handling 649 cases that resulted in 652 lives and $125 million worth of property saved or assisted.

Like Putnam, Stuart has fought for fair opportunities for the men and women assigned to his division. When the number of female watchstanders assigned to the Northern New England Command Center jumped from one to ten, he identified the need for a dedicated space for nursing mothers and worked tirelessly to see its implementation. Furthermore, he relentlessly advocated for a single mother to receive orders to required advanced training and overcame administrative challenges that allowed her to travel with her child.

“Having a caring and supportive leader like Mr. Stuart is very beneficial,” said Petty Officer Monica Gogola, an operations specialist at Sector Northern New England, “He made my professional development a priority and enabled me to take on a position of greater responsibility that will allow me to be competitive for advancement and contribute more to the service.”

Ken Stuart, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England's Lead Command Center Controller, plots a position on a chart, Friday, June 17, 2016. Stuart was awarded the 2016 George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership Award. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)

Ken Stuart, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England’s Lead Command Center Controller, plots a position on a chart, Friday, June 17, 2016. Stuart was awarded the 2016 George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership Award. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)

Putnam’s legacy doesn’t stop with lighthouse management. Putnam also worked to increase the number of radio beacons along the Atlantic coast which improved offshore communication. As a search and rescue controller, the systems implemented by Putnam, have enabled Stuart and other search and rescue professionals to do their jobs efficiently and save countless lives at sea.

Stuart, like Putnam, saw a need to make improvements within the search and rescue mission.

Stuart recognized a need to improve relationships between units within Sector Northern New England and developed an exchange program. Under the exchange program, Sector and Station watchstanders spend time at each other’s units in order to obtain a fuller understanding of what challenges their counterparts face.

Stuart also implemented a joint interoperability initiative with Canadian search and rescue forces which is designed to improve interagency operational readiness.

“Ken Stuart is an incredibly dedicated and talented member of the Coast Guard team in Northern New England” said Capt. Michael Baroody, commander of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England. “He is a decisive leader who capitalizes on opportunities to develop our junior workforce and that kind of focus ultimately leads to mission excellence.”

“I am glad to have devoted my life to the Coast Guard and feel fortunate to have the opportunity to serve in a civilian capacity,” said Stuart.

Following in Putnam’s footsteps, Stuart has used his forward thinking to improve Coast Guard operations and the workplace environment.

“I take great pride in working with a fine group of men and women that come together to help those in need and make the Coast Guard a great place to work.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Rear Adm. Steve Poulin, the First Coast Guard District commander, present Ken Stuart with the George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership Award, Friday, June 17, 2016 in South Portland, Maine. This award is given annually and recognizes a Coast Guard civilian employee who exemplifies the Coast Guard's leadership philosophy, principles, and core values. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)

Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Rear Adm. Steve Poulin, the First Coast Guard District commander, present Ken Stuart with the George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership Award, Friday, June 17, 2016 in South Portland, Maine. This award is given annually and recognizes a Coast Guard civilian employee who exemplifies the Coast Guard’s leadership philosophy, principles, and core values. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)

The Inspirational Leadership Awards are sponsored by the Coast Guard’s Office of Leadership and serve to recognize those Coast Guard men and women who demonstrate proficiency in leadership and best exemplify the Coast Guard’s core values of values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.

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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