Press Release, NAS Pax River

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. –Trust, accountability and a shared vision among team members are foundational to providing capabilities to the fleet. That’s according to Integrated Product Team Lead (IPT) for Naval Aviation Spares and Requirements Financial Manager (RFM) Cmdr. Lesley Donelson, and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office (PMA-265) Product Support Team Lead Kimberly Priest. Both Donelson and Priest were named the 2018 Daniel L. Nega Excellence in Logistics Leadership Award recipients at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, Nov. 9 and Nov. 19, respectively.

Established in 2014, the annual award recognizes a NAVAIR Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0) civilian and/or military employee for excellence in commitment and dedication to the people, mission and professionalism of AIR 6.0.

“One definition of leadership is the ability to influence outcomes,” Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Assistant Commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0) Tom Rudowsky said. “How we employ that leadership to learn, teach and interface with individuals and bring out their abilities. It’s about shaping how a team operates and moving them in a direction for a specific desired outcome. Cmdr. Donelson and Ms. Priest exemplify these qualities.”

Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department Military Director Capt. Gary Powe credited Donelson’s leadership as the force behind the Aviation Spares account surpassing the mandated benchmark for execution across three consecutive cycles. “As a visionary that never excepts the status quo, she is an exceptional team builder and a superb mentor who is always thinking ahead,” he said. “She epitomizes the foundation and the very essence of the Daniel L. Nega Excellence in Logistics Leadership Award.”

Cmdr. Lesley Donelson (left photo) and Kimberly Priest (right photo) were presented with the 2018 Daniel L. Nega Excellence in Logistics Leadership Award by Tom Rudowsky Nov. 5, and Logistics and Industrial Operations Executive Director (AIR 6.0B) Capt. Don Simmons Nov. 19, respectively.

Donelson said trust and support from stakeholders was central to achieving 100 percent funding for Naval Aviation Spares within her two years as IPT lead. Her first challenge was to familiarize herself with each platform to understand the aviation requirements. Her ability to advocate for each program also depended on the support and knowledge of product support managers, assistant and deputy assistant program managers for Logistics and the Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department IPT team.

“I needed to ensure each program was well versed in aviation spares, including key terms, types of spares, how does it relate to their program, risks and the Planning, Program, Budgeting and Execution (PPBE) process,” she said. To address the continuous turnover of personnel and different levels of expertise, Donelson increased the frequency of College of Logistics and Industrial Operations training classes to every two months, held “Open-door Wednesdays” (an opportunity for program offices to meet with her team without an appointment), scheduled quarterly reviews to ensure the program offices were on track with their spending plans, and held each program accountable for execution.

Donelson said being IPT lead helped her appreciate her role in providing readiness to the fleet and assisting others in their roles as well. “I learn something new almost every day,” she said. “Aviation spares is a unique account with nuances and rules. The accounts cannot be successful without every aspect of a program—engineering, cost estimating, business financial management and contracting, for example—working together. I strive to look beyond what I can see because I am impacting beyond what is in front of me. It’s important to help others understand that as well.”

Priest also was recognized for her efforts to increase stakeholders’ visibility into weapon systems’ sustainment processes. As the Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) national lead in the Logistics and Industrial Operations Group, Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning and Sustainment Department, Priest spearheaded the development of a code that correlates actions and documentation associated with discrepancies, improving the accuracy and speed of RCM and engineering analyses.

Nick Smith, RCM/Condition Based Maintenance Plus Branch manager said she led by example, demonstrated a strong commitment to the professional development of people and the execution of NAVAIR’s mission. “She readily shared her knowledge in an effort to grow the workforce and improve and standardize RCM within NAVAIR,” he said.“Ms. Priest was a leader that always made herself available and demonstrated a selfless commitment to helping others.”

Like Donelson, Priest said commitment to developing healthy working relationships made the implementation of improvements to NAVAIR’s RCM Program possible.

“RCM is performed on aircraft, support equipment and plant equipment by several organizations at multiple sites,” she said. “In order to support RCM nationally, I built close working relationships and friendships among those groups and with the RCM Steering Committee members, experts and young employees. This team developed great ideas to define and implement process, guidance, information technology and training/certification changes that benefited all concerned.”

In addition to teamwork, both Donelson and Priest said the award reflected the attention they received from engaged leadership throughout their careers.

“Leaders, I learned, must develop a vision that they believe in and can get others passionate about,” advised Priest. “It’s about building a team that works together, taps into each persons’ strengths, fosters respect for everyone and achieves results.”

Donelson followed a similar approach. “I was guided by a few overarching principles,” she said. “Serve and respect others, be the expert in your field, be accountable, define success, hold others accountable and work together as a team to achieve success.”