KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Each year, the Defense Nuclear Weapons School (DNWS) Quarterly and Annual Awards Program recognizes the agency’s top civilian and military performers. The award categories allow personnel from the upper, middle and junior levels of the workforce to be recognized for excellent performance. The following are the 2020 award recipients.
Selected for Junior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year was Technical Sergeant Shaun Ouellette. Ouellette manages the Defense Nuclear Weapons School’s largest course, certifying more than 835 Incident Response Force and Response Task Force members yearly. During the award period, Ouellette volunteered to lead a New Mexico COVID-19 relief effort by reaching out to 40 local churches and collected more than $12,000 in food, 5,000 pounds of goods and personal protective clothing. Because of these efforts, he increased safety and quality of life for 2,700 personnel.
“I was humbled and honored to be selected for an agency-level award. I know it is not based on my individual accomplishments, but an entire team effort. I was placed in the right place at the right time with the right supervision to push me in those key leadership positions. COVID has opened my aperture in work/life balance and shed light on my personal and professional growth. By gaining knowledge, reaching out to others, opening my mind and walking toward wisdom, I have been very fortunate that I had outstanding leadership and opportunities to grow.”
The Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year was Master Sergeant Brandi Robertson. Robertson managed course quality control, to include coordinating curriculum reviews and lesson updates, ensuring American Council on Education accreditation expectations and requirements are met. Through her outstanding leadership, she developed DNWS's first-ever virtual course by building a five-day interactive nuclear surety experience. This initiative provided a viable learning alternative to improve personnel readiness for the technical inspector role.
“I have been incredibly humbled by the entire experience. Being at DTRA is so far outside of my normal operating structure; it's been an amazing opportunity to not only work at the Defense Nuclear Weapons School, but also get to know and understand the other services. I am extremely thankful for the mentorship I've received from our leadership and the members in our branch team. We have been able to not only overcome the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, but have made lasting impacts throughout the entire nuclear enterprise community.”
The Junior Civilian of the Year for the Nuclear Enterprise (NE) Directorate was Dr. Dwayne Wood. Wood singlehandedly developed and executed the Instructor Orientation and Training Course that focuses on proven adult learning concepts best suited for DNWS’s audiences. The course combines best practices from each of the services and includes an overview of DNWS, including graphic support, safety, and registrar functions.
The Supervisor of the Year for the NE Directorate was Michael Conner. Conner is the Division Chief for the DNWS and Chief Operations Officer for the Nuclear Inspections & Education Department. During this award period, Conner harnessed outside sources, such as the 210th RED HORSE, to perform needed improvements at several training areas, saving more than $250,000 and providing the RED HORSE unit opportunities to exercise their skills. Furthermore, his resourceful acquisition of training aids and support equipment saved the school more than $400,000, while helping to provide the most realistic training environment.
“Knowing the level of leaders, spread across our different departments within the Nuclear Enterprise Directorate, makes being selected as “Supervisor of the Year” for the directorate is an extreme honor. I am very fortunate to have been nominated for this special consideration. Beyond that, it is having the ability to guide, mentor, and coach such a high-caliber assembly of personnel that makes this extremely rewarding. DTRA, as a whole, recruits great talent on all levels, from military, to civil servants, to contractors, so having this outstanding pool of personnel makes my job as a supervisor very easy.”
U.S. Air Force Col. George R. Farfour, DNWS commandant, echoed a litany of senior DTRA leadership praise.
“We are very proud of our annual award winners. To be singled out as the best of the best from DTRA’s superstars is especially noteworthy in a year that saw extraordinary mission focus. These winners represent how important our department's work is to the DTRA mission.”