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AFCEA International Awards Program
Emerging Leadership Award

The Emerging Leadership Award is given for exceptional service to AFCEA at the local and/or international level. This award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated continuous leadership in Young AFCEAN activities since winning the Distinguished Young AFCEAN award.

The Emerging Leadership nomination will be graded on the following:

  • How the nominee has grown in their development as a leader in the local Young AFCEAN community
  • Leadership roles the nominee has taken in the local AFCEAN community at-large -- outside of the Young AFCEAN community
  • Contributions the nominee made to the International Young AFCEAN community
  • Mentoring provided by the nominee during the award year
  • How the nominee has distinguished themselves as a professional in their community


  • Must be a current AFCEA member
  • Must be forty (40) years of age or under as of December 31, 2014
  • Must be a previous Distinguished Young AFCEAN (DYA) winner -- awarded a minimum of two years ago
  • Cannot have previously won an Emerging Leadership Award
  • Individual cannot nominate themselves
  • Must be actively mentoring and involved with the Young AFCEANs
  • Must have demonstrated continuous leadership in Young AFCEAN activities since winning the DYA award
  • Nomination must be endorsed by the nominee's AFCEA Regional Vice President (RVP)

Nominations closed

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Awards will be presented at WEST 2015 (February 10-12, 2015)

2013 Emerging Leadership Award Winners

MSgt Kelly Bales, USAF


Alamo Chapter

Master Sergeant Kelly Bales won the Texas Regional DYA over a decade ago as a young Staff Sergeant and while he was the YAF representative to the Alamo Chapter Board of Directors and the designer of the still popular Alamo Chapter Coin of Excellence used at Fiesta Informacion. Kelly initiated the first-ever virtual teleconference with Goodfellow AFB during a monthly luncheon, and was coined by the Regional Vice President for his innovative contribution. He is also the Alamo YAF military liaison and heavily involved in the YAFs Touring Industry program and the local AFCEA International Way Ahead Program. Kelly is the Alamo YAF awards committee lead and presents the benefits of AFCEA at regional USAF commanders' calls. He is a motivating factor behind Alamo's Wounded Warriors-to-STEM skills training program. Chapter leadership depends on Kelly for consistent exceptional support. At monthly luncheons, Kelly is asked to lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance as well as giving the Invocation. He is also entrusted with leading the force of over 100 volunteers supporting the $150,000 Alamo Chapter Event (ACE). Kelly's many efforts and innovations have introduced Young AFCEA to so many outside the chapter.


Ryan Cox


Northern Virginia Chapter

Mr. Cox won the National Capital Region DYA award in 2011 for exemplary leadership as AFCEA NOVA Young AFCEAN (YAF). Resulting from his top performance as YAF President, he was elected to the NOVA Board in 2012. Ryan served successfully as VP of Information where he initiated innovative member communications, most notably the NOVA Communicator eNewsletter, and led the adoption of social media for advertising and member coupling. Ryan chaired AFCEA NOVA committees for Small Business, Sponsorship, and Schedules, and was selected for the 2013 Corjay Award, the highest Chapter honor not often given to younger members. In 2013 Ryan was elected as VP of Special Activities, managing the Chapter's largest events with a budget of over $880,000. With Regional YAF Presidents, he co-hosted a Holiday Social, Nationals games, and a Wounded Warrior Softball Game. He was also YAF liaison for AFCEA International's Small Business Committee; a Veteran's Scholarship Judge; a 2012 AFCEA International Meritorious Service Award Winner; and in September 2013 was AFCEA International's AFCEAN of the Month.

Sarah Dabney

Kimmich Software Systems, Inc.

Central Maryland Chapter

Ms. Dabney is currently Deputy VP of Outreach in the Central Maryland Chapter, coordinating meetings and developing relationships with multiple government agencies. As 2012 President of the CMD YAFs, Sarah led a 14-person Executive Committee, and created and filled key VP of Outreach (Government/Military) and Integration Lead positions. The CMD Young AFCEANs are averaging a 15%+ increase over past years in new memberships. From 2010 to present, Sarah has been the Annual Bull & Oyster Roast Lead, and has led the event's growth from 500-600 attendees and from $35,000 to nearly $50,000 for the chapter's scholarship fund. She coordinates all attendees, sponsors and details for the Valentine's Day Gala. Sarah co-led the TechNet Land Forces Young AFCEAN Social in partnership with the Aberdeen Chapter and AFCEA International to host nearly 100 guests. Sarah is involved with the efforts of establishing a student chapter at Anne Arundel Community College, speaking at a kick-off informational session to a group of 20+ students, and  establishing a Mentor/Mentee program between the chapter Young AFCEANs and the student chapter members. Sarah fundamentally represents the core of any leader: selfless service and integrity.


Evan R. Helmy


Los Angeles Chapter

Since receiving the DYA award in 2010, Mr. Helmy has excelled at hosting networking events for young professionals to promote AFCEA and has assisted the Regional Vice President (RVP) in creating two viable chapters in the Western Region. Evan joined the AFCEA Los Angeles Chapter in 2009 and immediately helped grow the Young AFCEAN program and backed up several of the other Board Officers in their activities. He was the Young AFCEAN, Regional Young AFCEAN, and now holds the position of VP of Operations. The latter is an extremely demanding job to plan and organize all the chapter's monthly luncheons. Evan dramatically increased the average luncheon attendance from 25 to 45, and a fall 2013 lunch had over 75 attendees. Evan continues involvement within the International Young AFCEAN community. Discussions with the RVP are taking place to host a meeting of Western Region Young AFCEANs on a bi-monthly call to share information, discuss mutual problems, and report back to the RVP and AFCEA International. Evan mentored Andrea Loper, the new Young AFCEAN, to continue to grow the Chapter. Networking events for the LA Chapter are being planned with significant interest among the junior officers/civilians at SMC.


Christopher Molis

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center

Lexington-Concord Chapter

Christopher Molis won the 2012 DYA Regional Award for his outstanding service to the Lexington-Concord Chapter, where he engaged as a key volunteer, event planner, and recruiter extraordinaire, bringing in 15 new members over a 12 month period. As a dynamic Young AFCEAN leader, Christopher hit the ground running, taking a critical role in charge of the most important Chapter initiatives. As Race Director of the 5K Fun Run/Walk, he ensured the unqualified success of this first, and hopefully annual, signature event, working with sponsors to bring in over $2,000. His mentorship contributions have been equally impressive, including his participation on several scholarship and STEM grant review panels for the Chapter. In addition, Chris is recognized within his community as an emerging leader, providing surfing lessons for Wounded Warriors and acting as both mentor and role model to the Little Warriors football and cheerleading teams in his local area. Drawing from the already-successful Rocket box Program, he led in the development of a Do It Yourself Robot kit that is programmable and targeted for 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. The Lexington-Concord Chapter has placed great emphasis on grooming Chris for even greater leadership responsibilities.


Lt Col Janel Nelson, USAFR

USSTRATCOM Joint Cyber Center

Greater Omaha Chapter

Lt Col Nelson won the Greater Omaha Chapter DYA award in 2010 because her efforts truly invigorated the Chapter's diversity program. Janel has served as a Young AFCEAN on the Greater Omaha Chapter Board for four years and was instrumental in partnering with a local University and a scholarship research center. She has also reviewed and approved dozens of scholarship applications as part of the education committee. Janel has provided assistance during the annual golf tournament and Technet event and she also procured information technology support for an alternate lunch location when the primary location was under construction. Janel developed a survey to address potential luncheon cost-share changes, enabling the chapter to predict the effect the cost of lunch will have on membership. Her partnership with a local university diversity group has enabled the chapter to stay informed on campus diversity events. As AFCEA Diversity Chair and a young AFCEAN, Janel has been mentored by senior board members and presidents. She developed a strong diversity program, won an AFCEA Meritorious Service award, led the chapter toward earning the Brenda M. Dougherty Diversity Program Award, and represented the chapter at WEST 2011.


Anne Wagner

Wavestrike LLC

Central Maryland Chapter

Mrs. Wagner has continued to be a beacon in the community since her Distinguished Young AFCEAN Award in 2008. Currently serving as the VP of Small Business, she coordinates small business speakers, collaboration efforts, and mentorship. Anne has served as the Chapter's VP of Individual Membership, VP of Membership, YAF representative to the AFCEA Intelligence Committee, Scholarship Committee Lead, VP of Events, and the Lead of the Women in Intelligence Group (WIIG). She has mentored interns at Northrop Grumman, involving them in YAF activities and the scholarship selection committee. Anne also mentors YAFs interested in business development and program management, and has supported the Fort Meade Alliance business mentoring program. A graduate of the AFCEA Leadership Forum, Anne interacted and offered fellow classmates the opportunity to speak as a small business representative at the Central Maryland luncheons. Anne developed new committee chairs and leads for the Scholarship Committee. She also mentored 10 women in a WIIG mentoring circle and continues to be an active WIIG participant.

2012 Emerging Leadership Award Winners

2011 Emerging Leadership Award Winners

2010 Emerging Leadership Award Winners

2009 Emerging Leadership Award Winners

2008 Emerging Leadership Award Winners

2007 Emerging Leadership Award Winners


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


Award Questions?

Please contact Susan Emert
(703) 631-6191


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