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.
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