Washington, DC - The Navy has announced the selection of five outstanding officers and enlisted Sailors from more than 100 nominees as the Capt. Joy Bright Hancock and Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Award winners.

Established in 1987 and open to both men and women, these leadership awards are presented annually to honor the visionary leadership of Sailors whose ideals and dedication foster an inclusive culture while furthering the integration of women into the Navy. 

Each nomination package was thoroughly reviewed and graded on the criteria of inspirational and innovative leadership, professional accomplishments, character, command climate and community involvement.  The award winners went above and beyond in every category, exhibiting extraordinary service.

Capt. Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Awardees: 

Senior officer:  Lt. Cmdr. Emily Stellpflug, maintenance officer, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6, Naval Air Station North Island, California

Junior officer:  Lt. Marina Nanartowich, 28th Company officer, U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), Annapolis, Maryland

Limited duty officer/chief warrant officer:  Chief Warrant Officer 2 Latresha Williams, ship’s boatswain, USS New York (LPD 21), Mayport, Florida

Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian Leadership Awardees:

Senior enlisted:  Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Crystal Briggs, deck safety analyst, Naval Safety Center, Norfolk, Virginia

Junior enlisted:  Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Megan Stricklin, Aviation Structural Mechanic “A” School Instructor, Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATCC), Pensacola, Florida

Stellpflug currently serves as maintenance officer for HSC-6.  With an impressive flying record of 3,138 mishap-free flight hours, she is a graduate of the Navy’s mountain flying and aviation safety officer schools.  As a qualified mission commander for medevac missions, she flew over 30 combat hours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was subsequently selected to serve as a flight instructor at Helicopter Training Squadron (HT) 28, resulting in her selection as the 2013 Training Wing 5 Flight Instructor of the Year.  Understanding the value of mentorship and the importance of being a role model to Sailors, she takes an active role in the career progression and personal development of the women in her squadron and the HSC community.  She also commits off-duty hours to a crop sharing organization that provides fresh and healthy produce to people in need within the San Diego area.

Nanartowich reported to USNA for the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) master’s program in May 2018, and serves as the 28th Company officer, coaching and mentoring 138 midshipmen through their professional, ethical and physical development while managing their commissioning requirements.  A dedicated trainer and mentor, she has organized and executed several events for the Naval Academy Women’s Network as well as moderating Lean-In Circles to facilitate dialogues around diversity and inclusion.  Prior to reporting to USNA, she served two tours aboard USS Carney (DDG 64), completing U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet deployments in addition to two Forward Deployed Naval Forces patrols.  Her superior performance aboard Carney resulted in her selection as the Wardroom and Chief’s Mess Junior Officer of the Year in 2016, and recognition by the Surface Navy Association with the 2017 Admiral Arleigh Burke Surface Warfare Operational Excellence Award.   

Williams is described as an “absolute game-changing boatswain” who has devoted her career to making Sailors better, a mission she continues to this day aboard USS New York (LPD 21).  Leading by example, she completed her underway officer of the deck qualifications, master training specialist qualification and surface warfare officer pin.  Her leadership was vital during the ship’s extensive yard period, where she orchestrated critical maintenance efforts that allowed New York to successfully return to sea.  In 2017 she played a pivotal role in preparing for an intense Board of Inspection and Survey material condition inspection in which the ship excelled, earning an impressive 82 Figure of Merit inspection grade.  As only the second African-American female to be selected to the 7111 designator, she is an outstanding role model and member of Kappa Epsilon Psi, a military sorority dedicated to the mentorship of young women in the fleet.

Briggs leads the newly-established Afloat Community Analysis Division at Naval Safety Center, and has established herself as a top performer, garnering recognition by Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Commander, Surface Forces Atlantic for analyses of small boat mishaps and issues with surface ship lifelines.  Her diligent research has revealed gaps in training and policy doctrine, resulting in conclusions and recommendations that have influenced fleet-wide changes designed to protect Sailors.  She has consistently been recognized throughout her career for her inspirational and innovative leadership, honorably serving in a traditionally predominantly male career field, culminating in her recognition as Naval Sea Systems Command’s Women Moving Forward award recipient in 2012.  She is also active in the local community, volunteering her time to multiple organizations including the Navy Internship training program.

Stricklin has exceeded expectations from the beginning of her career, graduating the top of her class in aviation structural mechanic (AM) “A” school.  After successful tours at Patrol Squadron 10 and U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (NFDS), where she served as the senior enlisted female advisor to the NFDS triad, she reported to NATTC Pensacola qualifying as an AM ‘A’ School instructor and earning her master training specialist qualification.  As NATTC’s Diversity Committee secretary, she has had a profound influence educating both staff and students alike, reaching an average of 19,000 students annually by posting information and organizing various command diversity events.  A pillar of the command and community, she has participated in numerous community relation events and volunteered over 150 hours impacting Habitat for Humanity and Navy Youth Sports.

Winners are scheduled to receive their awards at the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium (JWLS), Aug. 22-23, 2019 in Washington, D.C.  JWLS is hosted annually by the Sea Service Leadership Association (SSLA), and this year’s theme is “Building Bridges, Changing Culture.”  For more information on SSLA and JWLS visit: http://www.sealeader.org/jwls/.

Capt. Joy Bright Hancock guided the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) through difficult years in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a period that saw the Navy's women achieve status as part of the regular Navy.  Master Chief Anna Der-Vartanian made history as the first female in the U.S. Armed Forces to be promoted to the rank of E-9.  Both of these iconic women spent the majority of their lives acting as stewards for female integration in the Navy.