News, Events & More
Reunion Info Updated!
The reunion page is updated. You can view the information here.
Need your help! Class of ’03 Info Brief
Class of ’03,
We need your help to fill in the information in the brief at the link below with all of the accomplishments that our great class has achieved throughout the years. This includes command, civilian leadership, making O-6, publishing a novel, running for office, releasing an album, or any other major achievement you can think of. This will be presented at the Class Reunion. Thanks!
Updated 20th Reunion Information!!
Class, here’s the latest on the 20th Reunion (20USNA03), it is scheduled for 7 September to 10 September 2003 +20. Wavetops below:
Hotels have new crazy prices and group policies that require a lot of money up front. The Committee has some blocked rooms but it’s averaging $900/NIGHT; everyone is encouraged to find their own hotel/airbandb.
No-Host Social Night
Annapolis Yacht Club: Small gathering (first 200 pp to buy tix)
Potential Family Events: Greenbury Point / The Yard
Potential for Geocache and other outside activities
Golf: Coordinated by individual groups that are interested
Memorial Service for Fallen Classmates
Parade: No designated seating area, first come first served
Night, FIND YOUR FRIENDS FRIDAY: No formal event. Clubs, Companies, Teams, Groups, etc., can coordinate bars/restaurants where they’ll be to facilitate reencounters, we can promote via Reunion Page/Social media. 30th Company has dibs on Armadillos, but everyone is welcomed! Further info to follow
Tailgate: Navy-Marine Corps Stadium Inside the Perimeter @ ‘Class Ring’, price TBD. Must have tickets to game to enter. Committee has a block of seats ($50) and standing-room only ($35), info to follow.
Food provided until half time, beer and wine until end of game.
Navy BEATS Wagner
The Class Committee reserves a section and sells tickets to classmates. If not sold by a period of time, tickets are recouped. Classmates can buy “standing room” tickets on their own and required for access to the “Ring”
King Hall Brunch: Optional and coordinated directly with USNA, Committee will provide information.
September 2021 Class Officer Meeting Minutes
Proposed Class Bylaws
Please read, review, and/or comment to the Executive Committee NLT 3 July 2021!
Proposed Class Bylaws and Other News!
’03 Class Update:
1. Our 20th Reunion date has been reserved for the Homecoming football game scheduled for October 7th, 2023, on Columbus Day weekend. Our dedicated VP has begun the initial coordination with the Alumni Association. Due to the pandemic and its effects on scheduling, many classes and sports have had to shift events to subsequent years, so the slate was very limited, but the process is underway to make this a grand celebration together.
2. We need class volunteers to support the reunion – a Reunion Chairperson and a Committee – and preferably classmates who reside in the Annapolis/DC/Baltimore area. If interested, please reach out to one of the Class Officers. We are also asking for volunteers to serve as Company Reps, who will help in engagement and communications for our 20th. Reach out to our international classmates especially if you are in regular contact with them and share the date.
’03. Please send a big wave of gratitude to our team of attorneys, Jeff Sommers and Jim Vandevoort, who led the way in drafting, critiquing, improving, and finalizing our USNA Class of 2003 Bylaws. A six-month+ effort in comparing bylaws with other classes, engaging with the Alumni Association on best practices, and most importantly, learning that we are better and more inclusive than the Whoops (they have an association of graduates only, not alumni). A PDF of the proposed bylaws will be posted on the class website for 30 days. Please read, review, and/or send comments or questions to the Executive Committee by ’03 July. We will then consolidate feedback with Jeff and Jim and publish the final version.
4. The Council of Class Presidents (COCP) was held on 29 April. The COCP Minutes, an update from the Alumni Association & Foundation, and another update from the Superintendent will be posted to the class website for your review. The All-Alumni Survey results should be processed over the summer with a final report to be released in the fall. Thank you to those who participated.
5. During the COCP, the results of the Board of Trustees (BOT) regional elections were announced. In the Western Region, it is the Board’s loss that Francis Ebong was not elected. I cannot thank you enough, E, for putting your hat in the ring. Your continued engagement is most appreciated as we try to make the Alumni Association a better institution. Thank you to the classmates who advocated on behalf of his candidacy. And thank you to the several other classmates whose names did not make the final ballots. Afterward, the COCP Chairman sent another survey to Class Presidents only for feedback on the BOT elections process. I did my best to highlight the advantages given to those coming from incumbent positions in the Alumni Association since the BOT approves the candidates who are permitted to run as well as a few other process issues that perpetuate the status quo.
6. NAAA finally clarified a topic brought up by the Athletic Director during the COCP. Chet Gladchuk has proposed that each class submit five to eight names of the finest, highly accomplished athletes, who contributed in a significant way to Navy athletics and who during their time at USNA may have been under-recognized, an underdog, and/or a legend in a sport that did not get the credit he or she deserved. Chet is trying to diversify the representation for an electronic display in the new Center for Student-Athletes in Ricketts Hall. If you’re a fan of an athletic classmate, please formally submit names, a picture (if available), and justification of NMT 500 words to the Class Executive Committee by 23 Jun. NAAA is asking for a consolidated list by 30 Jun. Brainstorming here to get the conversation going: Triathlon (looking at you here, Tim O’Donnell), Boxing, Swimming, Sailing, Track & Field, Crew, Rifle and Pistol, Rugby, Women’s Club Lacrosse, or maybe even the best Fieldball player in the Brigade ever (Tad Drake). Please no entries for legendary videogame players of GTA or Rainbow 6. Please no.
7. On Thu, 17 June, the Class Officers will hold a Blue and Gold Officer (BGO) Roundtable via Zoom for all classmates interested in conversing and sharing their past experiences as a BGO, best practices, feedback from the recent admissions cycle while still fresh in the mind, any process obstacles, etc. An Alumni Association update brief on the BGO Program will also be posted to the class website for anyone interested in the BGO Program, and we hope this forum provides a way to answer questions and increase outreach. Heather Selig, our Class Secretary, has the lead for the roundtable. Invitation to follow.
8. Looking longer-term, our new Class Historian is Kenneth Michel, who has selflessly volunteered for this role in addition to overseeing our Shipmate submissions. Thank you, Kenneth. In concert with our 20th Reunion, the Alumni Association compiles and publishes a Class History (also, this occurs for every five-year milestone reunion). As such, please start to think about achievements across all aspects of our careers – command, citizenship, government, combat commendations – and all of the other achievements you all have made as entrepreneurs, authors, coaches, teachers, and/or any notable accolades you deem worthy of annotation. Our history is what we make of it. Please send those to Kenneth for addition to our Class History in the run-up to the reunion or relay any questions his way.
Updates! – Strategic Priorities, Stewardship Report, Meeting Minutes
Big Update from the Class President
As promised, an extensive Class Update follows. It is broken up into ’03 sections.
BLUF: Please read the Shipmate section first. The second is on the COCP. The last is on fundraising with links to show you what your generous $90K given to International Programs has supported for the Brigade. Choose your own adventure.
Nov/Dec Issue of Shipmate – Class Column Update from the Class of 2003 Officers:
Greetings from the ’03 leadership team as this year comes to a close. We are writing this in early September so, as you read, if the context of current world events does not match what follows…Beat Army! Since September, the Class Officers have decided to meet virtually every month and will share a Class Update quarterly (or as needed) in the Shipmate publication. For outreach, we plan to use multiple forums: the class website (now posted above), the Class of 2003 LinkedIn and Facebook pages, and emails using the Alumni Directory class list. Please update your Alumni Association Profile here, https://www.usna.com/updateprofile, and reach out to our fellow international classmates to encourage them to update their info as well.
Our initial set of priorities is as follows:
1) Class of 2003 Bylaws Revision. In accordance with the 501(c)(3) status of the USNA Foundation, a revision is required. Our very own Stanford Law School graduate, Mr. Jeffrey Sommers, has graciously volunteered and will serve as the Bylaws Revision Lead. More to follow on structure, support, and timelines, but we plan to complete this effort early in the new year. If anyone has 501(c)(3) experience and wants to help, please contact Jeffrey at Jeffrey.Sommers@2003.USNA.com.
2) USNA Foundation, NAMA Engagement, and Blue and Gold Officers. As we approach our 20th reunion, our meeting with the USNA Foundation should provide clarity for our class’s options. The Superintendent directs the Foundation’s fundraising goals based on differences between USNA’s master budget and the Supe’s plans. All funds raised by the USNA Foundation must support USNA or be approved in coordination with the Foundation itself. As discussed during the All-Academy Challenge, the Naval Academy Minority Association (NAMA) is a completely separate and independent non-profit; as such, donations to NAMA could not be made via the USNA Foundation. NAMA does have a new website, so please check it out: https://www.usnama.com/. Donations can be made directly, and membership is “open to all NAPS, Naval Academy Foundation Students, Midshipmen, family members of Midshipmen, graduates and their family members, and those that attended USNA but did not graduate.” NAMA’s current initiatives and events have a lot of inertia, and we encourage those interested to join, participate, and engage. The last area where we have received inquiries concerns the Blue and Gold Officer (BGO) Program. Many classmates are already BGOs, and for those interested, starting earlier is better. A hierarchy exists within the BGO structure, and seniority by total years served as a BGO plays a significant role in being elevated to BGO Area Coordinator, who often have significant influence regarding candidate selection. “An Area Coordinator is an experienced and knowledgeable Naval Academy Information Officer selected and designated by the Dean of Admissions to coordinate all information program activities in the Area.” For those serving as BGOs, we encourage you to share your experiences about the process of becoming one and while serving. We can establish a forum to support that on our website if useful.
’03) 20th Reunion Committee Chair, Reunion Committee Members, Class Historian, and Enduring Company Representatives. Volunteers are welcome for all positions. For the Reunion Committee Chair, a classmate in the Washington, DC, area is recommended based on discussions with the Director of Alumni Class Programs. For reference in considering the COVID-19 environment, the Class of 1980 moved their 40th Reunion from this fall to the spring Army-Navy Lacrosse game, so plenty of possibilities and variables exist. To be upfront, a 20th Reunion Weekend Celebration will likely run $50-70K. The tailgater alone from our 15th Reunion cost $32K. Tons of support exists within the Alumni Association, and for those that helped with the 15th, lessons learned are encouraged to be shared. For the Class Historian, that individual essentially keeps track and records classmate accomplishments in command, citizenship, government, etc. The Alumni Association supports milestone reunions with a Class History, and this role would support their effort. For Company Representatives, we would like one volunteer for each company to serve as a relay for engagement and outreach, not just for the reunion, but as an enduring position. Volunteers, please email our Class Secretary, Heather Selig (info above), for tracking and consolidation.
Thank you for all of your feedback and engagement. Beat Army!
-Class of 2003 Officers
(End of Shipmate Submission)
On 5 November, I attended the virtual Council of Class Presidents (COCP) meeting. From its Charter, “COCP is independent of but closely associated with the Alumni Association and Foundation; it has its own charter, which conforms to the bylaws of the Alumni Association. COCP meets twice annually in support of the scheduled meetings of the Board of Trustees, or as required.” In preparation, each Decade Rep held a meeting in accordance with the COCP Charter. The U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association’s website includes info on the COCP here: https://www.usna.com/cocp?. Tons of great information posted, including a Class President Handbook and the Issue Paper Process. After the CoCP, I asked what were the latest Issue Papers and how effective were they? The only one that the Director of Alumni Class Programs could recall was a successful submission to request installing handrails along the stairs of the upper decks of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Not kidding. A mechanism not oft used, but one that has potential for catalyzing change.
Upon first read, I did request that USNAAA modernize their terms and pronouns in the COCP documents since I am not the only female class President currently serving nor will I be the last. I indicated that the lack of inclusivity was not a good first impression. The Director, Alumni Class Programs, and VP of Engagement agreed to update them. As is the theme with USNAAA, still waiting.
Our Decade Rep is Donnie Horner III of Class of 2003+5. We held a Zoom session before the COCP. Dynamics and interactions were positive with familiar faces and names. Each Class President provides a short update, and the Decade Rep then gives a quick summary of all during the actual COCP.
As for the COCP Meeting itself, the official Minutes are attached. The way that the Brigade has handled COVID and the adjustments the Staff and Faculty have made to keep classes going are remarkable. For example, almost 400 Mids reside at St. John’s College right now and commute to increase isolation capacity in Bancroft.
The Minutes are seven pages of mostly bulletized content. They were compiled and shared by the COCP Chairman and Secretary and are a regurgitation of the presentations more than a record of interventions and objections that a deliberative body would normally compile. Upon receipt, I requested they be updated to include several exchanges, to which the COCP Chairman strenuously objected. As such, I decided to include their Minutes to show you that, in practice, the COCP serves more as a communications relay than the body of influence it could be. An opportunity is there for sure. During and after the COCP, I received several notes of follow-up and support about the comments and interjections I made. The phone conversations and emails that followed with Class Presidents in the 70s and 80s – looking to understand and asking for help in how to reach their fellow classmates – were some of the most rewarding I’ve ever had. And before each callback, I sent them CDR Jada Johnson’s USNI article to read before we talked. Thank you, Jada.
To review, the first exchange omitted from the minutes was with LtGen Beydler, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees, presenting on the SCCDI’s progress. I asked why they hired SimpsonScarborough, an academic market research firm to conduct the survey rather than a racial justice organization (as recommended by Jada in her USNI article). Mr. Byron Marchant, President and CEO, added that the Alumni Association had an enduring relationship with SimpsonScarborough. Since to me that was a deliberate decision of convenience over principle in hiring an external agency, I then asked how much the contract was costing the association. LtGen Beydler and Mr. Marchant said they did not have one on hand, admitted that they were well over budget, and would get me a number soonest. Still waiting and follow-ups have gone unanswered. Moreover, the survey/census was delayed from being released around election day (smart call), but no new date has been offered. The high point of LtGen Beydler’s presentation was the closing where he finally acknowledged, on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the SCCDI, that a huge chasm of distrust and a loss of credibility must be overcome between the association leadership and at-large alumni. That was a first.
The second exchange omitted from the Minutes was an offer I made on the Class’s behalf to ADM Natter during his Alumni Center Project presentation. It was the first I had heard of this multi-million-dollar center that has been in work for almost two decades to replace the current Alumni Association offices. My questions were about their donation mechanisms – in that an opportunity exists for meaningful contributions that exhibit values and could be made in classes’ names more than their traditional approach of conspicuous philanthropy. I think I asked, “Is the center intended to be a monument to the classes of the 20th Century. And if so, why?” The plan solicits significant private donations for stone markers both inside and outside the building as well as name plaques and other areas of display. So, I asked how can we make the donations about more than having our names on the wall? About more than a $2,500/year for 5 years as the baseline standard or a $250K check for another level of marker? I also asked who was on the fundraising team to engage younger classes with more fulfilling ways to contribute. He had no answer, so I offered to engage on how to bridge the generational gap and to offer ideas. I later inquired as to whether the building is carbon neutral, if they had partnered with the Engineering Department to design power generation from College Creek’s tides, or if classes could donate and sponsor electric car charging stations. It was simply brainstorming to demonstrate what the current Brigade likely values and how to reflect that we, as older Alumni, need to be more relevant in new and meaningful ways, especially when many are struggling with bills and costs during COVID. More to follow on this topic as engagement is ongoing.
The last exchange (yes, I made three of them) was with the Supe. He delivered a great and proud update, but a Class President from the 70s challenged him on a perceived characterization of USNA as enduring “systemic racism.” Disappointingly, the Supe, in what appeared to be an attempt to appease the grad, said that if he had used that term, then it was unintentional, and he wanted to retract its use officially. At that point, I asked for clarity and a reason why he would do that – whether or not he ever said it on the record in the first place. My point rests in a fundamental truth: systemic racism and sexism exist, with or without its acknowledgment by those in power, and it is an enduring and endemic problem. From the Supe’s own video message of 14 June, he asserted that he understands this truth, posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za5Tr1-r-ZQ
“…that racism, bigotry, sexism, prejudice, and bias remain alive in our Nation, our Navy, and unfortunately, in our Naval Academy family.” He continued, “We simply cannot wish away this reality of racism in our ranks.”
My overall point was that by him choosing to characterize USNA as an outlier insulated from the systemic nature of racism to appease this grad, he undermines our ability to find ways to address it and to correct it as an Alumni Association in service of the Academy. He “agreed to disagree” with me, and I acknowledged that with the current executive order in place suspending diversity and inclusion training for federal entities, he is in a tough spot. That was the exchange the generated the most outreach from other Presidents.
Those are my amendments to the attached COCP Minutes.
Last topic: Heather Selig and I had a fantastic virtual meeting with Dan Quattrini, Director of Class Legacy Gifts for the USNA Foundation. He will be our partner for a new Class Project in conjunction with our 20th Reunion. One of the most honest and pragmatic conversations we’ve had yet on the realities of the current fundraising climate. It also showed us that there are myriad options for the way ahead – different and creative options we can pursue as a Class. He recognized that all of academic fundraising, not just USNA, is grappling with how to increase values-backed and measurable donations to reach younger alumni. To that point, we brought up that the Terwilliger name is now on four different buildings associated with USNA. He conceded that “blind faith” fundraising is a thing of the past. That contributors want feedback and updates and IG feeds. To that end, since the IPO was our previous class project, an update from Tim Disher, Director, International Programs, is copied below.
Hi there again. I am still trying to track down something about the monument moratorium on the Yard. Sara Phillips, the USNA Architect, is the one who enforces this on behalf of USNA. Not sure there is a formal document to reference, but if there is, I will get it.
See below info from IPO and attached. Let me know if this is helpful and something you can share with the class. Tim also said he would gladly do a zoom meeting with your class if interested.
Dan Quattrini ‘81
From: Tim Disher
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2020 10:54 AM
To: Dan Quattrini
Subject: Re: Class of 2003
Good morning, Dan-
Thanks for the continued support. Class of 2003 supported faculty-led programs and the latest example is attached – our Spanish Exchange Officer led a group of midshipmen to Spain over Christmas break.
In summary for the $90K generous philanthropy by the Class of 2003 – they supported:
– 20 midshipmen to various programs abroad led by faculty
– The impact of these experiences is captured by these typical testimonials in the attached document:
Here are some useful links… let me know if all of this is helpful:
Thomas India Trekking
Ditmar Norway Drones (3)
Ditmar Chile Drone
I have asked Ditmar for permission to use these. They are on public YouTube.
Ledford Israel Jordan
Google Link here – You have to download it and play from VLC in order to play.
Paige Miles study in India – Research
United States Naval Academy
BZ, ’03! Tell your squad leader. Very cool indeed.
Dan recognized that the USNA Foundation serves to bridge the gap between USNA’s Master Budget and the Supe’s Priorities. For example, federal funding for Hopper Hall built the skeleton of the building, but outfitting Hopper Hall as a Center for Cyber Security Studies demanded about $25 Million in donations. The Supe’s current priorities are attached as well for review. Heather, Dan, and I think there are plenty of other, more specific options to pursue. There is now an Experiential Leadership Program. Dan mentioned that stripers and team captains take funded battle studies to Gettysburg, which is funded in a class’s name. One idea is that we could fund a similar program for those Midshipmen on the cusp of graduating or those that need that inspirational push to get to the Fleet – be it restrictees or those on academic probation. We could call it the “Class of 2003 Rainy Day Trip” or the “Save the Cockroach Midshipman Fund.” Ideas for sure, but meaningful, memorable, and definitely relatable to the Class of 2003 experience. Also, this is a final check to see if you have read this far.
Looking forward to feedback and engagement. Enjoy the holidays, classmates. Beat Army!
Class of 2003 Leadership Team:
Pres: LtCol Lisa (Steinmetz) Cordonnier
Vice Pres: CDR Fernando R. Reyes
Treas: CDR Megan Barnett
Sec’y: Heather M. (Garland) Selig
Class Website: http://2003.usnaclasses.net/
Webmaster: CDR Kevin Hagan
Shipmate Submissions: CDR Kenneth Michel
Update from the Class President
Class President Candidates and Platform Statements
Two Class Presidential Candidates received the requisite 50+ petition signatures and have accepted the nominations in the upcoming election, Lisa Cordonnier and Jordan Voss. Both candidates have presented their platform statements:
Thank you to the class officers and to the executive committee for their hard work in running this election.
Here are the ‘03 ways I plan to represent our great class as President:
Outreach. As President, and in concert with our class officers, one of our primary roles will be to serve as an efficient conduit to you from the Alumni Association, to shape its evolving role in better serving a continually-changing group of alumnae, and to relay ongoing efforts to you for our engagement and participation. Time is valuable for us all in our busy lives. Working with many of you over the last decade has been amazing. Formalizing those efforts for the entire class as our President is one goal – Engagement Team interactions with the USNAAA, support to the Naval Academy Athletic Association, exhibit contributions and editorial advice with the USNA Museum, developing roles for the USNA Shared Interest Groups (SIGs), and now RADM Caesar’s work with the Naval Academy Minority Association. Pumped to still be a part of it all. More excited to lead those efforts and hear about your ideas for new and improved ones.
Advocacy. Of the USNA mission’s three responsibilities – command, citizenship, and government – the Alumni Association often under-emphasizes many of the incredible endeavors made in the citizenship realm of that triad. Reinvigorating the value of our class’s efforts along those lines can further the USNA mission itself. For example, future Midshipmen and the current Brigade should know about our very own Tim Avery and his Veterans Yoga Project. Taking care of those who have served is equally as important as preparing them to do so. We can use our platform as a class to amplify his efforts and others like it. It’s important to note that not everyone has to be an Admiral or a General to be a valued, contributing member. Highlighting other, often different efforts, in addition to those of command and government, should enhance and diversify what is possible when we collaborate as USNA graduates. Advocating for those will be central to our relevance and impact.
Enrichment. In addition to the fellowship created by the Alumni Association with reunions and events, the most prominent link on their webpage is “Give.” As we approach our 20-year mark during this challenging time of COVID-19 and amidst uncertainty of the future ahead – quality will be ever more important over that of quantity. How we contribute, in new ways and through new means, not just the dollars and cents by which the Alumni Association measures us all now, stands as an opportunity. Together, I believe we can balance our efforts going forward in more meaningful ways – yes, fundraising is inevitable, but those causes and projects are ours as a class, to include support to classmates, modernized bylaws, and new ideas on giving back. Most importantly, all of it will be done together to enrich the lives and environment we all share while living up to the Brigade’s standards and showing them what’s possible after graduation.
Thank you for reading and for your time. I appreciate your vote.
-Lisa (Steinmetz) Cordonnier
‘03. Beat Army.
Where am I now?
Currently, I am serving in the G-3 at Third Marine Aircraft Wing aboard MCAS Miramar. We moved back from a joint tour at AFRICOM in Stuttgart in January. After USNA, I completed the Security Studies Program via VGEP at Georgetown, then went to TBS and flight school, flew CH-46E helicopters in Iraq, transitioned to fly KC-130Js in Afghanistan, and attended the Naval War College and the Joint Forces Staff College. Avid explorer of the world with an incredible husband, two solar-powered daughters, and a GSP wonderdog named Dr. Watson.
First- thank you to John, to whom we wish the best. Second, while I don’t remember meeting Lisa, I think she would be wonderful. She seems to have that rare ability to combine intellect, warmth, ambition, and energy. And she also has an incredible reputation! Her Marines are lucky, and we are as well that she’s volunteered to serve. Third, what a compliment to be nominated and thank you.
Onto my candidacy: Occasionally, hypothetical events actually happen. One did about a month ago (necessitating we craft a unified class response to an incident involving alumni) and we failed the stress test as a class. My basic platforms in this election are direct reactions to that episode: 1) Allow you to have opinions privately and still participate; 2) Avoid projecting my own political feelings onto the class; 3) In my own decorum and rhetoric, a strong focus on unity in expanding voices and drawing people in. If we aren’t unified enough to be functional when it mattered, why allocate effort to even loftier initiatives at the USNA-class-level?
My question for you is one from Luce Hall: What does leadership look like right now for our class? In your own leadership, have human beings responded to persuasion and the power of ideas, or to being told how to think? I’d bet each of us has learned that accomplishing big things in the real world is super hard, and often takes the influence of a persuasive dialogue when there are a lot of stakeholders. So, according to my thesis, we all want the same outcome- just have different ways of getting there. I see the class presidency as enabling all voices.
To start answering that question, first, why are you reading this? Did it involve a text message in June saying to check out the calamity on the 2003 Facebook page? My own telling of the past month goes like this: We were to have a deliberation about how to prepare a class statement in response to CAPT Bethmann. (Summary of that below if you aren’t familiar.) The outcome was repetitive rivaling monologues, personal character attacks, ad hominems, denigration- of us, by us. Who was taking the uncomfortable position of stepping in to moderate this rhetoric when the insults were flying? To me, those were leaders. John’s emergence and resignation due to family health concerns felt like a gut punch when you saw how quick some were to judge.
So 2003: Are we in fact the leaders in our society that USNA’s mission demands? If this vitriol is the level of discourse among a group sharing mutual values (same oaths, service, education, honor pledge)– how can we lead our nation forward? What would our Sailors, Marines, or children say if they read our Facebook page?
As I write, ’03 dots the globe—Unit command (P-way flag photos, scrambled eggs, and all), leaders our communities, businesses, government, families, etc. Indeed, we have succeeded in achieving USNA mission’s “highest responsibilities of command, citizenship, and government.” Against that backdrop, I believe we should demonstrate a commensurate level of maturity.
As for my “platform” (an overstated term, for sure!) items:
1) Private participation: I would not require public displays of opinion in order to participate in class business. For people who don’t align with my politics (by the way—unlike many anonymous commenters, I’m a firm believer in institutional and structural racism, sexism, classism, etc, which I believe to be proven realities) , I prefer letting ideas emerge on their own merits and allowing disagreement. Haven’t we learned from reading about “struggle sessions”, voter intimidation, religious cults? YES, absolutely, I do take the counter that systems existentially sustain themselves, and private voting can reinforce that. BUT, I worry about the dogmatic purity tests we actually witnessed as an outcome, as it relates to drawing people in, increasing empathy, influencing, and effecting change. AND, I view it as super short term, transactional thinking, vs. long term change (changing minds & behaviors). SO, I see it as a process: gather anonymous feedback, respond with power of thought not outrage, move forward @ closer to consensus. Not an easy or fun process. I acknowledge that I might be missing the mark here: But here’s where I’m coming from– whenever I’ve fought inertia to accomplish an unlikely and significant change, especially with a high number of disparate voices, that’s how it has worked in the real world. Humans end up at the “business-end” of making change, and humans are hard.
2) Personal projection: Is class presidency (the office itself) a platform for advancing personal philosophies, or for representing the whole of our class? It’s more a representative role, to my eye. (I AM NOT accusing Lisa of overlaying a political bias: Please don’t read that as an underhanded implication. I am saying simply: It’s really, really important to me to be disciplined in representing all 950 people.)
3) Unity. First, it’s not lost on me that the relevance of the USNA Class President role is minuscule in the big picture. But, how many are proud of our recent high school drama? When there was an actual deliverable (our statement), not hypotheticals… who were the leaders among us in that moment, engaging, in hopes of finding common ground — and pointing energy way from each other, toward an outcome? I think we’re better than what we saw, let’s unite around the commonly shared baseline that we’re warriors tested on the global stage, who stand for human rights, who care about each other, care about our alma mater, and genuinely want the best for every human being.
The class should also know, if it matters to you, I hold vested and passionate views on race due to a personal connection to that issue. Things aren’t the same for Americans who aren’t White- they just aren’t. I bring that up since it was our main focus re Bethmann, and because if you disagree (it seems many do), you might want to have that knowledge of my bias.
So why vote for me? You will notice those three items are not feats of grandeur, but more remedial. Indeed– I don’t have regal plans for the office from the seat of the presidency! And this takes a backseat to family & professional responsibilities. But: I won’t project my views onto you or the class; I won’t advocate my own politics on behalf of a thousand people for debated social matters nor imply it, I won’t thought police or mind-read; I won’t promote performative gesturing or virtue signaling; I pledge personal respect & civility; I revere each of you as heroes who commissioned into battle; I give a damn and will take care of business; I love our country and view it through a positive-bias filter.
Given 2003’s legitimately outsized social influence, I see this role as one small step in curing the plague of division… where, everywhere I look, people retreat, withdrawing to like-minded corners to become more hardened (and more outraged). I so strongly believe the best outcomes derive from humility in interaction. Let’s look to the words of John McCain: “Our shared values define us more than our differences”
*Background: A retired navy captain alum in FL – who had held command of Sailors and was an active alumni leader – inadvertently revealed disgusting racist views (via butt-dial). What a reality check for many; people liked to believe those views no longer existed, certainly not at that level. Very wrong. Given his formal role, it was imperative that the alumni association (led by our fan-favorite Dant, Adm Locklear) respond with a statement of actual condemnation. But—the response was general enough to not resemble a rebuke. So our 2003 leadership moved to facilitate a stronger reaction. I’m VP of the Puget Sound UNSAA chapter, so this was a big deal in that world too, but I sense in talking with classmates it wasn’t on everyone’s radar.