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
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