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AFCEA International Awards Program
Distinguished Young AFCEAN (DYA)

The Distinguished Young AFCEAN Award recognizes and rewards exceptional performance in two areas: superior technical achievement in the professional arena and a record of going "above and beyond" at the local AFCEA Chapter level. The AFCEA Regional Vice Presidents have the honor to personally select an individual from their Region to receive the Regional Distinguished Young AFCEAN Award. These honorees represent an elite group of individuals.

  • Individual must be a current AFCEA member Forty (40) years of age or under as of August 31, 2011
  • Nomination must be endorsed by the nominee's AFCEA Regional Vice President (RVP)

Note: Nominations are due October 28, 2011. Awards will be presented at West (January 24-26, 2012).


2010 Regional DYA winners (above) are:

Capt Bryon Buzan, USAF; Capt. Robert E. Engelmann, USAF; Eileen Heller; Evan R. Helmy; Amanda Jordan; Jason March; Travis Niedosik; Emily Rausch; Jennifer Stacey; and Casey Weinstein

Regional DYA recipients not pictured are:

1st Lt Melanie K. Alvarez, USAF; LT Marcus C. Arroyo, USN; 1st Lt Kimberly Burnham, USAF; 2nd Lt Eric R. Mast, USAF; and Tech Sgt Jennifer Pontenila, USAF


2010 DYA winners (above) are:

Michael J. Bowen; Sarah Dabney; Capt Kimberly W. Huber, USAF; Joseph Kovesdi; Maj Janel M. Nelson, USAF; Capt Charles V. O’Connor, USAF; Mari Oh; Alyssa Ranson; Eric Sloan; Kate Tong; and SSgt Poitier Wright, USAF

DYA recipients not pictured are Maj Sean Kern, USAF; Eric LaPorte; Lauren Modeen; Tech Sgt Ghanshyam Sharma, USAF; and Dawn Way


2010 Distinguished Young AFCEAN (DYA) Regional Honorees


1st Lt Melanie K. Alvarez, USAF

3rd Combat Communications Support Squadron

Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Region

Lt Alvarez is a consummate professional in her primary duties and within the Oklahoma City AFCEA Chapter. Lt Alvarez is just a ball of energy. It is so cool to see young people like her engaged in all parts of her life and excelling on all fronts. She is a super volunteer for the Oklahoma City AFCEA Chapter. She is not only doing wonderful things for the organization but she is taking care of the military troops and taking care of herself. She is a winner no matter how you slice it.


LT Marcus C. Arroyo, USN


Central Europe/U.S. Forces Region

LT Arroyo, a 2009 Copernicus Award winner, has demonstrated outstanding initiative on multiple occasions and is mature beyond his years. His role in direct support of multiple summer and winter Tech Expos was particularly impressive and won him the respect of fellow Executive Board members.  LT Arroyo has consistently contributed to the goal of AFCEA to provide a positive opportunity for C4I professionals to get together, share ideas, and build lasting bonds. He had proven himself to be a positive influence on many to include those both younger and older than himself. He has consistently volunteered to do both the large and the small jobs in AFCEA while simultaneously being a consistently personable, professional, and positive force for the Stuttgart Chapter.


1st Lt Kimberly Burnham, USAF

375th Cyber Support Flight

Heartland Region

Lt Burnham is a go-getter and self-starter both on the job and in the AFCEA chapter. She reaches out for challenges and puts in every ounce she has to reach success. Her unselfish dedication is not only to growing the AFCEA Scott-St. Louis Chapter membership and in support of the professional community within Scott AFB but to the entire community within Scott AFB of service men and women and their families. It is impressive and encouraging to watch her energy and dedicated sense of mission.


Capt Bryon Buzan, USAF

53d Computer Systems Squadron

Western Florida Region

Captain Bryon Buzan is the Western Florida Region Young AFCEAN representative and the driving force behind the Emerald Coast Chapter success. Not only did he serve as Vice President of Programs while also filling the vacant Chapter Secretary position but he was personally involved in everything the chapter did throughout the year. Capt Buzan provided significant leadership to the chapter executive committee when he led development of the chapter goals to lay out the vision, organize the efforts, and promote

chapter growth.


Capt Robert E. Engelmann, USAF

Air Force Reserve Command, Communications Directorate

Georgia Region

Captain Robert Engelmann is the consummate superstar -- working extraordinarily hard for AFCEA and the Georgia region for over two years. When Robert transferred between two units on Warner Robins Air Force Base, the leadership of the Middle Georgia Chapter moved with him. Two Colonels held the title of President, but Robert was the linchpin that held the chapter together during both administrations, maintaining communications with the members and letting the Colonels know when to act. In the last two years, he has held positions of Director of Operations/Programs, Vice President of the Young AFCEANs, Vice President of Awards, and Chairman of the Scholarship Board, positions assumed in that order, but held simultaneously. His actions directly resulted in the Chapter earning the 2010 Model Chapter Award. If there was ever an individual that deserved recognition as a Distinguished Young AFCEAN, it is Captain Robert Engelmann; he is the embodiment of one!


Eileen Heller

IntePros Federal

New England – Upstate New York Region

Eileen Heller has been an enthusiastic contributor within the Young AFCEAN Executive Committee since joining in 2008. She has served within the Lexington-Concord chapter as volunteer, spokesperson, event planner, organizer, and chapter recruiter. She also actively participates in all major events. Eileen appreciates the significant role that AFCEA provides to strengthen the relationships between military, government, industry and academic communities. She is an outstanding individual who has made a substantial impact in a fairly short period of time - she has immersed herself in AFCEA and the Chapter’s Young AFCEAN Program has prospered.


Evan R. Helmy


Western Region

Evan was recruited by the Los Angeles Chapter to re-energize outreach to Junior Officers and Enlisted personnel at Los Angeles Air Force Base; a challenging assignment! As part of his campaign for new members Evan made the rounds of the many organizations at SMC to encourage attendance at monthly luncheon meetings as a means to develop interest in AFCEA. In addition, he is a member of the Scholarship Committee and consistently volunteers to represent the Chapter at Awards Ceremonies for the local ROTC Scholarship winners. He dedicates many hours working on the 2010 Chapter Disbursements Committee projects reviewing candidate philanthropic grants to ensure the contributions are in line with the spirit, the restrictions and charter of AFCEA, and is actively participating in the 2011 planning. Evan is working with the RVP supporting activities associated with the reactivation of the AFCEA Las Vegas Chapter and is also involved with the RVP on the needs of the Vandenberg Chapter.


Amanda Jordan

Apptis, Inc.

Virginia Region

Amanda Jordan, Secretary of the Hampton Roads Chapter, takes an active leadership role in Hampton Roads Chapter activities. Amanda is a real spark plug for positive change for this chapter. She hit the ground running from the moment she joined AFCEA. Her outlook and fresh ideas have inspired the other members of the committees to which she has been assigned. She is a hard worker and the consummate Young AFCEAN!


Jason March

Apptis, Inc.

National Capital Region

Jason is a real asset to the NOVA chapter. He is reliable, intelligent, and level headed. As chair of the NOVA Young AFCEANs for the 2009-2010 year, Jason was responsible for restructuring the Young AFCEA Program and turning it into an organization that is regarded as an essential part of every chapter activity. Under his leadership, the Young AFCEANs moved to a more substantive program, providing real value to the chapter and taking on responsibilities that add to their professional growth. Jason has performed well in every position he has held and played a major role this year in the transition to a new chapter support contractor. It is expected he will move to one of the VP slots on the NOVA board next year and eventually to the Presidency.


2nd Lt Eric R. Mast, USAF

85 Engineering Installation Squadron

Mid-South Region

Lt Mast has developed and implemented an exceptional list of programs and events for the Gulf Coast Chapter at Keesler AFB, MS. In regard to their activities and events, Lt Mast’s leadership acumen and results-driven motivation are examples how one can become totally involved in a small AFCEA chapter and raise the bar on expectations. His involvement is not a onetime shot! He is involved in every chapter activity or event 365 days of the year. With his active duty commitments to the Air Force it is hard to believe that he can still employ the time it takes to be so effective. This young officer has what it takes, and continues to rise in leadership positions within AFCEA.


Travis Niedosik

Lockheed Martin

Southwest Region

In his first four months as the Young AFCEAN Vice President for the San Diego Chapter of AFCEA, Travis has demonstrated his capacity to go above and beyond for his chapter. Travis inherited a largely inactive Young AFCEAN organization. Just one month after taking office, Travis planned a large event focused on the strategic direction of PEO C4I, which was attended by 105 people in industry, academia and government. This talk provided key insight to the direction over the next 20 years, demonstrating Travis’s commitment to developing a shared understanding between industry, academia and government. Travis Niedosik has proven to be a valuable asset to AFCEA San Diego. His outreach, planning, and social skills have driven the Young AFCEANs to new levels of activity and involvement. His leadership and guidance has helped forge a strong bond between tomorrow’s leaders and AFCEA San Diego. Travis Niedosik is an exemplary member of AFCEA and is most deserving of the Distinguished Young AFCEAN award.


TSgt Jennifer Pontenila, USAF

36th Wing, Andersen AFB Guam

Pacific Region

For TSgt Jennifer Pontenila’s sustaining support of her mission, and enduring support of AFCEA Marianas, she is undoubtedly a Distinguished Young AFCEAN. She has truly distinguished herself in her operational job but also excelled in supporting and growing the Marianas Chapter. Jennifer is the “go to” person in the Chapter as exemplified in her write up. She is exactly the kind of person AFCEA needs to spark new ideas and energies to grow the right AFCEANS for the future!


Emily Rausch

Integrity WFS

Texas Region

Emily has enthusiastically taken the Alamo Chapter Young AFCEANs to the next level. Each month they grow in size and capability, providing an able “right arm” for the AFCEA BOD and officer cadre. Little is done without the assistance of the Young AFCEANs and little is done within the YACs without the mature guidance of Emily Rausch.


Jennifer Stacey

JKA Technologies, Inc.

Maryland Region

Jennifer’s tireless efforts to support AFCEA and the Central Maryland Chapter in so many ways, and her impact in doing so - not to mention her great sense of humor while doing so - are truly exemplary and embody the best in what we hope for in the young professionals who will be leading AFCEA in the future. Jennifer is an exceptional person doing great things for the wider community through her support of AFCEA. She makes the Chapter proud.


Casey Weinstein


Mid-West Region

Casey Weinstein has done an outstanding job representing the Young AFCEAN program of the Dayton-Wright Chapter of AFCEA. Casey is the heart and soul of the Young AFCEAN Program for the Dayton-Wright Chapter. He seems to be everywhere at once - whether it’s signing up new members, volunteering to work any number of committees or just spreading the good news about AFCEA. There’s an old saying - when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That describes the many attributes of Casey.



2010 Distinguished Young AFCEANs


Michael J. Bowen

Praxis Engineering Technologies

Aberdeen Chapter

Mike has been an energized and forward-thinking leader for all of the Chapter events. He has been integral in organizing and establishing Chapter Luncheons as the best in the Aberdeen area. He is always looking out for the best interests of the chapter such as new luncheon facilities, efficiencies in running the luncheons, and identifying volunteer help to support these terrific events. Mike has also taken upon himself to develop various roles within the chapter and after establishing these roles has worked to transition them to other members so he can tackle the next challenge. Mike is tireless in his efforts to assist the Chapter in any way possible! He has been a key contributor to the Aberdeen Chapter’s success story. Aberdeen’s record of growth, creation of new events, and raising AFCEA’s visibility in the area is just remarkable, and Mike has contributed to that success materially in his role as Chapter VP Programs.


Sarah Dabney

Seismic, LLC

Central Maryland Chapter

Sarah Dabney has been an active member of the Central Maryland Chapter’s Young AFCEANs since 2009. In that short time she has been able to have a large impact on the organization. Through May 2010, Ms. Dabney was the VP of Events where she was responsible for general oversight over all Young AFCEAN events. As of March 2010, she assumed the role of VP of Communications, where she leads all messaging to the Young AFCEAN group through a variety of channels including website updates, email, and direct communication, keeping the chapter membership apprised of all chapter news and events. Sarah’s record of accomplishment speaks for itself. She is an exceptional leader who is having a wonderful impact on the Chapter, its YAC program, the members around her, and the broader community through AFCEA. Her example is exactly that which builds AFCEA’s reputation in the community.


Capt Kimberly W. Huber, USAF

United States Air Force

Lexington-Concord Chapter

Captain Kimberly Huber is an outstanding Young AFCEAN. Since joining the chapter in 2009, Kim has played an active role in the Young AFCEANs Executive Committee. Even before she was a member of AFCEA she was volunteering and organizing events for the Lexington-Concord Chapter. She has engaged as a key volunteer, event planner, mentorship event organizer and chapter recruiter. She has also been actively involved in all major Lexington-Concord Chapter AFCEA events. Kim understands the importance of the AFCEA military/industry relationship that is vital to the community and has excelled in the Lexington-Concord Chapter. Her outstanding accomplishments have exceptionally well qualified her as a Distinguished Young AFCEAN.


Maj Sean Kern, USAF

Det 1 Delta Base/CC

Kaiserslautern Chapter

As Chairman of the Chapter Publicity Committee, Major Kern and his committee were tasked with developing a chapter advertising campaign, identifying and working with local advertising mediums, identifying target audiences, working with committees to identify events, dates, and publicity needs, writing news articles, photographing events, and managing the procurement and sale of chapter merchandise. To meet these requirements, Major Kern authored a firstever four-page Chapter Communications Strategy, identifying nine critical target audiences and identifying and mapping the best media to reach each audience. He initiated a first-ever, recurring radio and television message over the Armed Forces Network, wrote two newspaper articles on Cyber Ops and command and control and published announcements for numerous chapter events. Recognizing that the chapter did not have a comprehensive information source for all recurring and special events, Major Kern crafted a 12-month Chapter Strategic Calendar, has identified over 80 actions and deadlines with corresponding offices of primary responsibility. Major Kern has always stepped-up to do whatever was necessary to make the Kaiserslautern chapter successful. He will surely be a chapter president someday, and he will also have a distinguished career in the USAF.


Joseph Kovesdi

Software Process Technologies, Inc.

Central Maryland Chapter

Mr. Kovesdi currently serves as the Young AFCEAN VP of Membership, and is a former VP of Communications, and the Lead for the chapter’s monthly emerging technology seminar series sponsored by the Young AFCEANs. Along with the many other accomplishments, note that Joe has been successful in increasing the Chapter’s ability to recruit YACs from the armed services - a critical area of need and one in which the Chapter has been working for years to improve. For his exceptional service to AFCEA and the Central Maryland Chapter across so many areas and in this particular area of critical need, Joe certainly merits the recognition of Distinguished Young AFCEAN.


Eric LaPorte

Oracle, Inc

Rocky Mountain Chapter

Mr. LaPorte is a distinguished young professional who has served the Rocky Mountain chapter as the Vice President for Special Activities. Most noteworthy among his accomplishments was the tremendous utilization of social networking to boost membership awareness of events and to provide an avenue for member networking. Eric has proven himself an effective leader and ambassador for AFCEA’s goals both in the chapter and as a communications/information technology professional. Eric has really stepped up to the plate this year for the Rocky Mountain Chapter. He has filled so many holes supporting AFCEA and other organizations. He is one of the rising stars that will continue to make AFCEA proud with his dedication and commitment to make AFCEA an outstanding organization.


Lauren Modeen


Bethesda Chapter

Lauren joined Bethesda YAFCEA in June 2009. Already well known in the Federal community for her blogs on Web 2.0 and social media outreach, Lauren was YAFCEA Bethesda’s first Social Media Chair, elected to the new position in the fall of 2009. She brought a new dimension to the Bethesda chapter in her use of social media for the chapter. She is responsible for the great success of a number of events, increasing attendance and money raised by significant amounts. She is a tremendous asset for the chapter.


Maj Janel M. Nelson, USAF


Greater Omaha Chapter

Major Janel Nelson is a legitimate example of an outstanding leader. This Young AFCEAN has truly invigorated the Greater Omaha Chapter’s diversity program, broadening its definition beyond common ethnicity and gender, and educating its members on multiple aspects of uniqueness. She has made the diversity program interesting and engaging for our entire membership by using an array of methods to present the diversity message at each meeting. She is a young lady with a heart of gold and a passion for helping others. She is an A+ volunteer always there to provide support for the Chapter’s functions. She is a key player in the Omaha Chapter – she will continue to give AFCEA 110%.


Capt Charles V. O’Connor, USAF

ESC Aerospace Management Systems Division

Lexington-Concord Chapter

Captain Charles O’Connor is a vital member of the Lexington-Concord Chapter Young AFCEANs. Over the past 18 months, he has been a continuous presence at major AFCEA events, working behind the scenes to help steer the chapter in new and exciting directions. He has jumped in with both feet and supported the Chapter in numerous ways. In sum, Captain Charles O’Connor is a prime mover and has been an extraordinary asset in areas that have had significant positive impact upon the Lexington-Concord Chapter.


Mari Oh

Blackstone Technology Group

Bethesda Chapter

Mari is currently the Vice Chair for Bethesda YAFCEA and will become Chair in July 2011. Through her infectious enthusiasm, boundless energy, and ability to organize and motivate others, Mari has become one of the most highly visible and recognized emerging leaders within the Bethesda AFCEA community. The Bethesda Chapter has a very strong program with tremendous outreach in the NCR IT community. Mari Oh has been a strong contributor and leader for the YAFCEAN organization. She has put processes in place to capture information and step-by-step instructions for events and instituted changes to keep an already good program innovative and current. The Bethesda chapter was a leader in integrating the YAFCEANs into the working committees to train them for future leadership roles. They have the highest ratio of YAFCEANs serving as full board members. Mari has been a faithful mentor in helping new members to rise within the chapter.


Alyssa Ranson

Tech USA

Aberdeen Chapter

Aberdeen Young AFCEAN Alyssa Ranson has been an energized and forward-thinking leader for all of our events. Alyssa is great at marketing the Chapter, always looking for new sponsors or just meeting new members; in fact the Chapter membership has nearly doubled in the last year due in part to Alyssa’s efforts. She has represented the Chapter at a variety of events throughout the country. Impressively, Alyssa was even elected Chapter Executive Vice President, which is a terrific accomplishment for a Young AFCEAN.


TSgt Ghanshyam K. Sharma, USAF

HQ Air Combat Command (ACC) Surgeon General (SG) Office

Tidewater Chapter

TSgt “Sky” Sharma brings a unique charisma and enthusiasm to the Tidewater Chapter as YAC President. TSgt Sharma is a Fireball of Energy as board member in the Young Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association! TSgt Sharma helped drive two years of strategic planning efforts and support to our first AFCEA social in three years! Can’t say enough about “Sky” – unending energy, dedication to revamping YAC participation, and keen supporter of AFCEA – a true YAC role model and leader!


Eric Sloan

Precision Task Group

Montgomery Chapter

Eric’s contributions to the Montgomery AFCEA Chapter have been instrumental in the chapter’s success in recruiting, retention, community involvement, military-industry partnership, young AFCEAN membership and last but not least – education! Eric drives the Chapter’s success; all day, every day; he played a huge role in all they attained in 2010. He IS the future of the Montgomery AFCEA Chapter! Eric is an outstanding Young AFCEAN who selflessly volunteers of himself for those committees and activities that are not always in the spotlight. The impact of this young AFCEAN relative to supporting the education of students in the Montgomery River Region is beyond measure. The Montgomery Chapter AFCEAN membership has grown because they can readily see how the young AFCEANs in the Chapter are allowed to be involved in leadership within the chapter. A quiet unassuming leader working behind the scenes seeking no credit or accolades for what he accomplishes on behalf of his AFCEA Chapter. A future senior leader in AFCEA!


Kate Tong

Riverbed Technology

Washington DC Chapter

Kate has been a member of AFCEA DC since 2003, served as Vice chair in 2008 and has served as YAFCEAN President for the past 2 years. Kate, an AFCEA Leadership Forum graduate, has been an extraordinary AFCEA Standout, and is highly respected for her above and beyond leadership and unfailing support. Before Kate Tong began working with the DC Chapter Young AFCEANs, the group had no structure or dedicated activities. Kate has done a magnificent job of building a rewarding and valuable YAFCEAN program from the ground up. She has recruited and placed YAFCEANs on committees and in positions where they are able to network and gain experience in working with the senior leadership of the chapter. Kate also initiated meetings to establish communication across the NCR chapters in order to work more closely together. She has been a real leader for the chapter and region.


Dawn Way

US Army Electronic Proving Ground

Southern Arizona Chapter

Ms. Dawn Way is the Chief, Contracts Division for the US Army Electronic Proving (USAEPG) at Fort Huachuca, AZ. Dawn was elected to the Southern Arizona Board of Directors in 2009 as the Vice- President of Programs. Immediately, her efforts helped increase the Chapter’s visibility to members and to other organizations. In addition, Dawn has served on an ad hoc committee to increase membership. One of the successful efforts was presenting free memberships to active duty soldiers who had received Chapter scholarships. This increased Chapter membership, while recognizing active duty military. Although Dawn has a very busy professional schedule, she is also helping grow the Chapter.

SSgt Poitier Wright, USAF

485th Intelligence Squadron

Kaiserslautern Chapter

As the co-chair of the membership committee, SSgt Wright and his team were tasked with maintaining the chapter’s members above 335 and challenged to register 50 new members. SSgt Wright sought out opportunities to advocate the advantages and benefits of AFCEA to his fellow communicators and in the end, he exceeded the registration challenge, and in fact recruited 100 new members, the chapter’s high-water mark. SSgt Wright is also active in the chapter in many other ways. SSgt Wright is an excellent NCO and an outstanding member of the Kaiserslautern AFCEA chapter. He volunteers to support the many chapter events and plays in a key role in the success of this outstanding chapter. He has a great career ahead of him in the USAF and he will always be an enthusiastic member of AFCEA.



2009 Distinguished Young AFCEANs

2008 Distinguished Young AFCEANs

2007 Distinguished Young AFCEANs


Click here for a complete list of AFCEA Awards and nomination forms.


Award Questions?

Please contact Julie Lama
(703) 631-6174

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