Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Lt. Kimberly Young-McLear, Petty Officer 1st Class Sheldon Williams

Petty Officer First Class Sheldon Williams and Lt. Kimberly Young-McLear were this year's Coast Guard recipients of the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer Williams.

Petty Officer 1st Class Sheldon Williams and Lt. Kimberly Young-McLear were this year’s Coast Guard recipients of the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer Williams.

As a civil rights activist in the United States from the 1930s to the 1970s, Roy Wilkins was a believer that an individual could make a difference. This was seen in numerous ways throughout his life, and was especially evident by his dedication the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The organization has since ensured his legacy lives on through a prestigious award created in his namesake.

Each year, the U.S. Coast Guard and the other military services participate in the NAACP National Award Ceremony that recognizes military and civilian members who have made significant contributions to civil rights and equal opportunity.

This year’s Coast Guard recipients of the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award were Lt. Kimberly Young-McLear and Petty Officer 1st Class Sheldon Williams. The ceremony took place at the 107th NAACP National Convention Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Awards Luncheon at the Westin Hotel in Cincinnati.

Lt. Kimberly Young-McLear, PhD, currently serves as Permanent Commissioned Teaching Staff (PCTS) faculty at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) in New London, Conn. and is an active member of her local New London NAACP Chapter.

As an instructor at USCGA, she has continuously demonstrated leadership and is a role model in the classroom and on the campus. Her zeal and enthusiasm for education is obvious. Spending countless hours with cadets, as well as officer candidates from Officer Candidate School, she provided mentorship on career and future academic opportunities, and inspired her advisees to make significant GPA and health & well-being improvements. As Chairperson of the Leadership Diversity Advisory Council she developed an innovative intervention-based approach to systematically review and identify comprehensive action plan items to address results of Defense Equal Opportunity Climate Surveys (DEOCS).

“Here at USCGA, we are immensely proud of LT Young-McLear whose relentless enthusiasm and passion for educating, training and inspiring others has markedly impacted our mission of developing leaders of character, and strengthened our partnerships with key internal and external stakeholders,” said Dean of Academics, Kurt Colella. “Her collaborative spirit and inclusive nature have greatly contributed to a culture and climate that values a broad range of skills and perspectives and removed key barriers to development, especially for members of underrepresented groups.”

In addition to a full teaching schedule and other campus duties, Lt. Young-McLear has served on the Education Subcommittee of the NAACP in the local community. This group works to provide equal opportunity, through a lens of education justice, to public schools in the New London School System.

Lt. Young-McLear felt enormously proud to receive this honor and follows in her father’s legacy when he was recognized by the NAACP while on active duty in the U.S. Air Force.

“Receiving the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award alongside the other award recipients was a true honor and humbling experience,” expressed Lt. Young-McLear.

Many of her family and extended family, including her in-laws, have military service experience. In fact, together they have more than 150 years of combined military service since WWII, and she dedicates the NAACP award recognition in their honor.

“This honor follows a long lineage of champions for equal rights and reminds us that there is still work to do in fostering an inclusive environment for all,” remarked her wife Cmdr. Yamasheka Young-McLear, training officer at the Coast Guard’s Leadership Development Center in New London.

Lt. Young-McLear intends to use her NAACP recognition to further efforts to produce solutions with co-authors in multidisciplinary fields including Leadership Diversity Advisory Councils and Affinity Organizations on transforming culture and shattering ceilings using the TIDE21™ Leadership Framework: Talent, Inclusion, Diversity, & Ethics for the 21st Century Coast Guard, which she co-developed with fellow PCTS faculty CDR Royce James, PhD.

She is most passionate about eliminating all forms of workplace violence and harassment/discrimination, including status-blind harassment, workplace bullying, hazing, and promoting mission necessity for inclusion & diversity through cybersecurity education, and her commitment to leadership and education has undoubtedly made an impact on the Coast Guard and the local community.

From left to right: Petty Officer Williams' son Ko, Petty Offcer Williams, Lt. Kimberly Young-McLear, and Kimberly's wife, Cmd. Yamasheka Young-McLear. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer Williams.

From left to right: Petty Officer Williams’ son Ko, Petty Officer Williams, Lt. Kimberly Young-McLear, and Kimberly’s wife, Cmd. Yamasheka Young-McLear. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer Williams.

Petty Officer 1st Class Sheldon Williams, an electrician’s mate at Coast Guard Base Alameda, Calif., is a consummate advocate for those around him. He has mentored colleagues, subordinates, and senior leaders on diversity issues while promoting cultural awareness and equality. His actions speak louder than his words.

Petty Officer Williams has an obvious passion for fostering diversity and cultivating an environment of respect and equal opportunity. He initiated a plan on base to recognize the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and Black History month. This event provided Coast Guard employees a superb educational agenda focused on celebrating diversity in American culture. His program included cultural dance, song, and an insightful lecture from Dr. Runoko Rashidi, historian and author of Introduction to the Study of African Classical Civilizations. For Native American Heritage month, Petty Officer Williams used video and speech to produce an experience that brought forth visibility of culture that is often misunderstood.

“I love serving in the Coast Guard because of the missions that we focus on. I particularly enjoy serving on Coast Guard Island because not only is the Command Climate awesome but we get to support so many units that provide great service to our citizens,” said Petty Officer Williams.

His work does not end with the Coast Guard though. His humanitarian service and advocacy for enhanced education opportunities bolstered the lives of disadvantaged middle school and high school students at the Oakland Military Institute where he is a volunteer in the Partnership in Education program.

Williams says that he gets his leadership traits and his desire to uphold his character from his family.

“I draw on my family for strength and inspiration. My high school track coach, Don Scott, was also a big influence as well as others who have taken the time to mentor or advise me,” said Petty Officer Williams. “To this day I can recall (and have on many occasions – just ask my children), sitting with my parents and grandparents, just sitting around spending time, telling family stories and discussing lessons learned by those stories.”

Petty Officer Williams’ impact on his unit and the surrounding community are a testament to his dedication and loyalty. His exceptional accomplishments in furthering the principles and goals of civil rights and equal opportunity for all will not stop here, he says.

Outside of work and volunteering as a Coast Guardsman, Petty Officer Williams has started a non-profit that focuses on the rights of indigenous Women and children.

“I feel humbled and blessed to receive such an honor named after a man and given by an organization which has worked so hard to ensure equality and diversity in America,” he said.

Petty Officer Williams displays the ultimate integrity and strong moral character, and firmly believes that knowledge is the key to equal treatment regardless of race, color, religious affiliation, or gender.


The Coast Guard’s Office of Civil Rights and its programs help maximize the Coast Guard’s overall mission effectiveness by fostering a discrimination free environment through recognition of members’ accomplishments and contributions to civil rights, equal opportunity, minority communities and Partnership in Education (PIE) programs. Learn more about Coast Guard civil rights programs at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg00/cg00H/.

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