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2008 Distinguished Young AFCEANs and Emerging Leadership Award Winners


Distinguished Young AFCEANs


Distinguished Young AFCEAN (DYA) Regional Honorees

2d Lt Barrett Darnell, USAF

1st Special Operations Communications Squadron

Western Florida Region

2d Lt Barrett Darnell is an exemplary AFCEAN. He is Chief of Network Operations in the 1st Special Operations Communications Squadron, managing a $25M network supporting 13,000 users. He served as Emerald Coast Chapter Vice President for Awards and Publicity in 2008. He published articles in both Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field papers, and spotlighting the chapter in SIGNAL Magazine’s Chapter News. He played a pivotal role in resurrecting the chapter Young AFCEAN program.


1st Lt Kurtis Engelson, USAF

Space and Missile Systems Center

Western Region

Lt Engelson played a critical role in making the recent Global Positioning System (GPS) Partnership Council 2008 meeting a resounding success. As the Logistics Lead he was responsible for ensuring successful operations in parking, transportation, badging, vendor displays set up/tear down, audio/visual, and wireless internet installation. The meeting, with 300 plus attendance, was jointly sponsored by the Los Angeles Chapter and the GPS Systems Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center. 


Veronica Golden

554th ELSG

Midsouth Region

Ms. Veronica Golden was selected as a Regional Distinguished Young AFCEA (DYA) of the Year (2008) for the Mid South Region; and, the Montgomery Chapter’s Young AFCEAN of the Year for 2008. Veronica is as an outstanding Air Force civil servant, currently serving as the program manager for a multi-million information technology program. Ms. Golden was involved in every aspect of the Montgomery Chapter’s activities this past year, and has been for a number of years. Her major contribution this past year was as a key leader in planning and executing the plan for the Montgomery Information Technology Summit that led to a record setting $125,000 in contributions to support the Chapter’s Educational Foundation.


AJ Guenther

Connelly Works

National Capital Region

“Sure, I can do that.” That is the response AFCEA DC receives to each and every request made of AJ Guenther. While AJ’s work as Director, Public Relations at Connelly Works made him the ideal person to coordinate AFCEA DC’s press corps interactions, his “can-do” attitude and willingness to pitch in to get the job done soon made AJ a “go-to” AFCEA DC member for any and all tasks.


Capt Darrell Gull, USAF

78th Communications Group

Georgia Region

As the most outstanding contributor to the thriving success of his chapter, this outstanding young AFCEAN led 2008-2009 chapter programs. He culminated 2008 with a four-star General speaker -- partnering with another association, he increased luncheon participation 175%, attracting over 220 attendees. He recruited young AFCEANs to serve as chapter board members. He maintained steady contact with his Regional Vice President. The Georgia Region and Middle Georgia Chapter proudly award Capt Darrell Gull the Distinguished Young AFCEAN award.


Ryan Harris

Merrill Lynch

Great Plains – Rocky Mountain Region

Ryan Harris serves as the Vice President for Special Activities for the Rocky Mountain AFCEA Chapter. Ryan is the AFCEA lead for an Air Force Space Command A6 directed study to gather lessons learned from returning war fighters. Ryan selected and organized a group of 20 volunteers to craft surveys and interview airmen returning from deployment. This study will provide government and industry insight into capability shortfalls and gaps and a forum to work together to develop solutions. As the AFCEA SpaceComm Symposium sponsorship committee chair, Ryan obtained 24 corporate sponsorships, raising $200,000 for the event that will further chapter activities including scholarship and grant programs.


Victor Holinko


New York – New Jersey Region
Victor Holinko (USACERDEC) is an outstanding choice for a Regional Distinguished Young AFCEAN having been a member of the Young AFCEAN Advisory Council, and a Co-Vice President of the chapter’s young AFCEAN group with over 5 years service as an officer meeting the goals/objectives of AFCEA. Victor has been involved in the planning/execution of the overall young AFCEAN program where he led a series of events to educate AFCEANs on advanced C2 technologies and their applications. He has served AFCEA as a liaison officer to several government organizations. He is active in virtually all Fort Monmouth Chapter activities. Mr. Holinko is also a SCRA officer where he has been awarded the Bronze Order of Mercury. He has Dept. of the Army Achievement Medals for Civilian Service and a Masters Degree from SIT.


2d Lt Mica McCratic, USAF

83rd Network Operations Squadron

Virginia Region

2d Lt Mica McCratic serves the Tidewater Chapter as an exemplary volunteer supporting chapter events including the Joint Warfighting Conference 2008, which helped the chapter raise over $15,000 for scholarships awarded to local community students and Air Force enlisted members. In addition to her outstanding AFCEA contributions, Mica serves her country as Crew Commander for the Integrated Network Operations and Security Center - East. Her leadership supports 24/7 operations in support of Cyber security and the Global War on Terror.


John Nilsen


Southwestern Region

John Nilsen is an excellent leader. He developed a successful fall networking event, and has established numerous strategic partnerships with local San Diego non-profit organizations like YNPN, NDIA, AIAA, and IEEE. John has also been active in advocating science and technology education to students through forums and development education programs. The AFCEA San Diego Chapter is fortunate to have Mr. John Nilsen as a member of the Chapter and community for his dedication, innovation, and commitment.


1st Lt Christopher Quinlan, USAF

375th Communications Group

Heartland Region

Captain Christopher Quinlan serves and the 375th Communications Group Executive Officer, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. He has previously been recognized as the 375th Communications Support Squadron and 375th Communications Group CGO of the Quarter and as Scott-St. Louis AFCEAN of the Month. Over the past 12 months, Chris single-handedly breathed new life into this chapter’s almost non-existent Young AFCEAN program. Always leading from the front, he stepped forward to serve as our chapter as the Young AFCEAN President.


Anne Smith

Pyxis Engineering

Maryland Region

Anne Smith is a wonderful role model for Young AFCEANs everywhere and has been serving the Central Maryland Chapter in a series of high impact roles since 2004, including Board Member, VP of Membership, Committee Chair of the 2008 NSA Acquisition and Industry Symposium, Central Maryland Chapter Women In Intelligence Group, Valentine's Gala, and Young AFCEAN Bull and Oyster Roast. Anne also serves beyond Central Maryland as the Young AFCEAN representative to the 2008 Intelligence Committee. Wow! Congratulations, Anne!


SrA Simon Stewart, USAF

435th Communications Squadron

Central Europe – U.S. Forces Region

His love for what he is doing in the chapter and in his organziation know no bounds. He is enthusiastic, motivated, smart and he is always seeking new challenges. He has a tremendous career ahead of him in AFCEA and in the US Air Force.


Capt Katherine Stowe, USAF

751 Electronic Systems Group

New England/Upstate New York Region

Captain Kate Stowe makes things happen. She is fully engaged in the chapter as volunteer, spokesperson and organizer. She manages a $10K yearly YA budget. Her leadership resulted in awarding $6K in YA scholarships and the recruitment of 25 new members to the Chapter. She helped raise more than $305,000 for the annual Combined Federal Campaign, and was key in organizing YA mentorship events. In sum, she is the embodiment of a Distinguished Young AFCEAN.



Distinguished Young AFCEANs


2d Lt Melanie Alvarez, USAF

34th Combat Communications Squadron

Oklahoma City Chapter

2d Lt Melanie Alvarez is at the forefront as an active member and leader of the Oklahoma City (OKC) Chapter of AFCEA. Upon introduction to AFCEA after commissioning, she stepped up to serve as chapter secretary during the incumbent’s 6-month deployment. Her professionalism and ability to get things done led to her landslide victory during the subsequent chapter election. Melanie was instrumental in leading the annual OKC Chapter AFCEA golf tournament which raised $10,600 for the scholarship fund - more than double the amount made during any golf tournament in chapter history.  She is an outstanding Young AFCEAN who has increased awareness of AFCEA within the military and the OKC community.


Brian Baker

The Ambit Group

Bethesda Chapter

Brian is currently Chair of the Bethesda Young AFCEANs. Brian led the 2006 Bethesda AFCEA Golf Tournament to raise over $25,000 in sponsorships and led a number of Bethesda AFCEA activities including the chapter's inaugural Fiscal New Year Party and the 2007 Bethesda AFCEA Golf Tournament. Under his leadership, Bethesda YAFCEA is expanding its activities to complement the activities of the parent chapter in a number of ways, including driving the chapter's Web 2.0 strategy.


1st Lt Justin Barrett, USAF

Electronic Systems Center

Lexington Concord Chapter

1st Lt Justin Barrett is an absolutely essential member of the AFCEA leadership team. He is personally involved in all major Lexington-Concord Chapter AFCEA events. He has been Chapter liaison for eight mentorship events, three major conferences, and two industry tours. His personal support to membership racked up a total of 22 new AFCEANs. As a mentor, he connected more than 80 YA members with six industry and military leaders. He leads by example.


Capt Jason Fields, USAF

Air Mobility Command

Scott St. Louis Chapter

Captain Jason N. Fields is an Action Officer serving the Operations Directorate of the Director of Communications and Information, Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. He was previously recognized as the Air Force Communications Agency’s CGO of the Quarter, and as number 1 of 436 CGOs as base CGO of the Quarter. Jason is the Scott-St. Louis Chapter Scholarship Vice President. During the past year, he increased applications by over 300 percent, managed $32,000, and awarded 15 students scholarships.


SSgt Curtis Knappenberger, USAF

435th Communications Squadron

Kaiserslautern Chapter

Through his example he attaches other young AFCEANS to the chapter. He has gotten numerous young airmen involved in the chapter. He is always available to help in planning and participating in chapter events.  He is a standout Young AFCEAN.


Lisa Lill

Accenture National Security Services

San Diego Chapter

Lisa Lill’s service as Vice President for Publicity in the AFCEA San Diego Chapter exemplifies the highest standards of professionalism and dedication to AFCEA’s core tenets. Lisa works tirelessly to design, layout and distribute the monthly chapter newsletter, which reaches a readership circulation of over 1400 professionals. Lisa’s efforts have significantly improved AFCEA San Diego brand-recognition among chapter members and distinguished local and regional partners alike.


Tatiaunna Maldonado

DISA - Europe

Stuttgart Chapter

Since getting involved in the chapter Tatiaunna’s contributions have stood out. Her involvement in everything that the chapter does plays a major role in them being successful. She has becaome a valued member of the chapter team in planning and executing chapter events and is always there.


James Marks


Huntsville Chapter

Jim Marks is the Deputy Team Lead for the Huntsville Chapter’s TechNet Technical Program; responsible for the call for papers, reviewing abstracts, and arranging the final technical track program. An energetic engineer he supports the Chapter luncheons and facilitates the Chapter Board of Directors and TechNet Planning Committee meetings. He developed a robotic system at the Soldier level that helps prevent loss of life in Hostile Urban environments. He used this technical expertise to enrich the technical understanding of robotics, controls, software, and engineering for high school students. He was a judge for the FIRST Lego League Championship in Alabama, an ongoing program of 50 elementary and Middle school teams.


Lisa Pandolf

Chenega Technology Services Corp

Fort Monmouth Chapter

Lisa Pandolf [Chenega Technologies] is the Co-Vice President of the Young AFCEAN Advisory Council. Lisa leads the Young AFCEAN adventure series which involves tours and military training activities. Lisa also chairs the Young AFCEAN grant program that provides grants to Young AFCEANs to improve their careers. Lisa has co-chaired the AFCEA Appreciation Dinner/Installation of Officers where she handled all the logistics. Lisa plays an integral part at the Monmouth University Science Symposium where she has made it popular with teenage participants. Lisa is a vital member of the organizational committee that raised over $130,000 for Fisher House during the last 2 years. Lisa designs and maintains the chapter website and has made contributions to numerous committees. Lisa Pandolf is very deserving of this award.

2d Lt Jessica Perez, USAF

375th Communications Support Squadron

Scott-St. Louis Chapter

Second Lieutenant Jessica L. Perez serves as Executive Officer to the Vice Commander, 375th Airlift Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. She has previously been recognized as the 375th Communications Group CGO of the Quarter and as Scott-St. Louis AFCEAN of the Month. Jessica serves as Young AFCEAN Vice President. Most noteworthy among her accomplishments was her ability to enable maximum participation of both our Young AFCEANs and AFCEANs, helping the chapter win Model Chapter of the Year.


Jennifer Phillips


Central Maryland Chapter

Jennifer Phillips is a tireless leader in Central Maryland’s Young AFCEAN program. Most recently, Jennifer served as Committee Chair for the chapter’s annual Awards Night gala, which recognizes scholarship and teaching toolkit award recipients. Jennifer and her team coordinated the award recipients, venue, reservations, food, tickets and keynote speaker Deputy Director NSA, all with a professionalism and personal touch that made the night a standout. For this and all your many other contributions, Jennifer we thank you – congratulations!


Anna Richardson

Department of Homeland Security

Southern Arizona Chapter

Ms. Anna Richardson is a GS-14, IT Specialist Webmaster for the Department of Homeland Security, working high profile web portals and an Intranet Site for special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement / Office of Investigations.  She was elected to the Southern Arizona Board of Directors in 2004, becoming the chapter’s Web Developer. She immediately made a huge impact on improving the chapter’s image by completely rebuilding the website and maintaining its presence on the Internet.


Alyx Schmidt

Epsilon Systems Solutions Inc.

San Diego Chapter

Alyx Schmidt brings dedication, intelligence, and enthusiasm to numerous organizations that support the local military and defense community within AFCEA San Diego’s chapter. Alyx is a strong advocate for small business, women in defense, and numerous other volunteer organizations that focus on strengthening the relationship between government, military and industry. She is a very bright and rising star in the greater-San Diego community and AFCEA San Diego Chapter is proud to have her as a member.



2008 Emerging Leadership Award Winners

Alison Eyre

Strategic Resource Group

Central Maryland Chapter

Alison Eyre’s great service earned her selection as a Distinguished Young AFCEAN in 2005, and since then, she has been even more active. As just one example, Alison spearheaded Central Maryland’s Adopt a School program at Meade High School, leading a team which even wrote a curriculum for the program, now available on Central Maryland’s website for all participants. This program mentors students in interviewing, career development, communications and goal setting, and is a great example of AFCEA impact in the local community. Congratulations, Alison!


Katie Gladhill

Nortel Government Solutions

Northern Virginia Chapter

As NOVA Chapter YAFCEAN Chairperson, Katie provides invaluable leadership to YAFCEAN events. Additionally she volunteers for MILCOM, Golf Committee, Small Business Committee, Valentines Ball Committee, and Service IT Days. She supports the monthly luncheons as Floor Manager, coordinates the Toys for Tots drive and Girl Scout Science and Technology Day, and lends her strong leadership skills to the Mentor Protégé night. She is a key player in the Chapter’s support of the Wounded Warrior Project.


Matthew Heideman


Lexington-Concord Chapter

Matthew Heideman has hit the ground running, and paused only to pick up speed! From spearheading STARBASE (a DOD-run math and science program for 5th Graders), to leading 25 YA’s in supporting Hanscom AFB’s first Air Force Cyber Summit (where he personally interfaced with the Air Force Secretary and Air Force Chief of Staff), to directly helping recruit 30 new members, he truly sets the standard for Young AFCEANs in the Lexington-Concord Chapter.


1st Lt Neftali Herrada, USAF

603rd Air and Space Communications Squadron

Kaiserslautern Chapter

The enthusiasm and work ethic that he displays in everything that he does for the chapter has contributed to the chapter reaching newer heights each year and made him a standout. He is also a top performer in his unit and makes major contributions, helping it surpassing its organizational goals. Whatever he does he always gives his best. He will be an outstanding leader in the US Air Force.


Andrea Kunk

Peerless Technologies Corporation

Dayton-Wright Chapter

Andrea Kunk IS the future of the Dayton-Wright Chapter. Her selection as an Emerging Leader is a fitting tribute to her professionalism, dedication and leadership skills which are constantly on display. If it's a tough task that needs to be accomplished, the Dayton-Wright Chapter turns to Andrea. Her selection as InfoTech 2009 Vice Chair, which will lead to her Chairmanship in 2010, is the culmination of her dedicated service to the Chapter. GO, ANDREA.


Angela Norris

Oracle Federal

Bethesda Chapter

Angela Norris has become a driving force bringing younger IT professionals from both Government and industry into the mainstream of the Federal IT community. In 2007-2008, serving both as Chair of the Bethesda Young AFCEANs and Industry Chair for the Results Committee at the Industry Advisory Council (IAC) Management of Change (MOC) Conference, she worked tirelessly in ensuring that young IT professionals not only had a "seat at the table" but that delivered meaningful results.


Cristina Page

DISA - Europe

Stuttgart Chapter

Christina puts a lot of enthusiasm into everything that she does for the chapter and it shows. Since she has been an officer the chapter membership has increased substantially and the amount of funds available for scholarships is significantly higher. Her efforts played a major role in these chapter accomplishments. She is always personally involved in all chapter events doing whatever is needed to make the event a success.



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