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United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: National Hispanic Heritage Month - 2013

National Hispanic Heritage Month - 2012

"Hispanics have served honorably in our Armed Forces, defending the values we hold dear. They have transformed industries with new, innovative ideas. And they have led and inspired movements that have made our Nation more equal and more just."
- President Barack Obama

Students Embrace Hispanic Engineer Conference

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students from middle school through college rolled up their sleeves and embraced with gusto all the 26th Annual Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation Conference had to offer. Story

Coast Guard Executive Celebrates Hispanic Heritage

Gladys Brignoni, deputy commander of the U.S. Coast Guard's Force Readiness Command, reflects on growing up in Puerto Rico. Story

Army's Hispanic Outreach Extends Beyond Observance

Now and throughout the entire year the Army is committed to communicating with and engaging with the Hispanic community, and recognizing their service and sacrifice, the Hispanic outreach liaison for the Army's Office of the Chief of Public Affairs said. Story

Soldier Reflects on Hispanic Heritage

Army Sgt. Maj. Jose Velazquez recalls what joining the Army means to him and how it changed his life. Story

Executive Discusses Hispanic Heritage Month

Education and the willingness to move are keys for anyone getting ahead in federal service, Rhonda Diaz, the deputy director of resources at U.S. Africa Command said in an interview. Story

Heritage Month Celebrates Cultural Diversity

Since 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office, America has observed National Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the contributions and culture of citizens of Latin American descent. Story

Obama Signs Gold Medal Bill for Puerto Rican Unit

President Barack Obama signed a bill awarding the members of Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment -- the Borinqueneers -- the Congressional Gold Medal. The medal recognizes the contributions and extraordinary heroism of the men of the regiment, who served during a time of segregated units. Story

Hagel, Army Leaders Induct 'Valor 24' Into Hall of Heroes

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel led a celebration correcting an injustice, as 24 Army veterans whose heroics spanned three wars were inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes. Story

Obama Presents Medals of Honor to 24 Soldiers

Twenty-four U.S. Army veterans from three wars -- World War II, Korea and Vietnam -- received upgrades to the highest military decoration for uncommon bravery and gallantry at a White House ceremony. Story

Colombian Woman Becomes Airman, Citizen

Colombia-born Air Force Airman 1st Class Andrea Spanjer plans to continue her military career, expand her education and look toward a bright future, while never forgetting where she came from. Story


Name: Retired Coast Guard Rear Adm. Ronald Rabago

Retired Coast Guard Rear Adm. Ronald Rabago

Rear Adm. Ronald Rabago is the 2014 HENAAC Executive Excellence award winner. Rabago retired from the Coast Guard this summer after 36 years of exceptional military service, leaving behind a legacy of contributions. Rabago became the first Hispanic Coast Guard officer to attain flag rank. Since his promotion to the executive ranks in 2006, Rabago served in numerous demanding positions. As the Coast Guard's assistant commandant for Acquisitions and Chief Acquisitions Officer he oversaw the largest acquisition and contracting operations in DHS with over 930 personnel and an annual budget in excess of 1.5 billion dollars. Rabago led the most successful acquisition modernization in Coast Guard history that resulted in Coast Guard success in delivering capable, mission-ready assets such as the National Security Cutter, Fast Response Cutter and Coastal Patrol Boat fleets, as well as the Response Boat-Medium and Rescue 21. Most recently, Rabago served as the Assistant Commandant for Engineering and Logistics, held the title of Chief Engineer, and oversaw activities of 5,000 engineering professionals with a budget exceeding one billion dollars. Rabago successfully directed the Coast Guard through highly complex and politically sensitive projects, including the 500 million dollar construction of the Coast Guard Headquarters campus, the single largest, most technologically advanced shore plant project in Coast Guard history. Rabago also gives back to the community through selfless service. Of particular note, he played a critical role in the Engineering and Science Extravaganzas program at the University of Texas El Paso, College of Engineering. The program exposed economically disadvantaged high school students from diverse backgrounds to science technology engineering and math disciplines. This program included the Robotics on the Water competition, in which students were able to plan, practice and test their skills in STEM.

Name: Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Luis Carmona

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Luis Carmona

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Luis Carmona is the 2014 HENAAC Luminary Honoree Award Winner. Carmona, a graduate of the Coast Guard's College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative program, leveraged his extensive engineering expertise with significant international impact while currently assigned to Sector New Orleans. As a marine inspector, Carmona worked in the world's most diverse port, where 20 billion dollars of various commodities move globally. During Hurricane Isaac, Carmona showcased his engineering knowledge and led the reopening of operations of the Mississippi River waterways after 39 large and small vessels were grounded, hampering vessel movement along the river. He played a critical and direct role in salvage operations oversight, facilitating waterway clearance in just three days after the hurricane. A few months later Carmona was handpicked by his command to travel with a team to a South American country to inspect a foreign vessel suspected of smuggling contraband. Upon arriving, Carmona immediately identified major safety conditions due to improper vessel loading. After locating and reviewing the ship's plans and using his bilingual skills, he devised an unloading strategy plan that he articulated to local government officials who were able to stabilize the vessel, unload shipped contents, and expose hidden illegal weapons and aircraft. Because of his exceptional performance, Carmona was recognized by the country's ambassador to the United States, and its president. He has also been recognized for his work in the community. The Coast Guard recognized Carmona as Diversity Champion of the Week for significant contributions in support of the Commandants Diversity Strategic Plan and OPTASK Diversity. As a Diversity Outreach Team member, he volunteered to coach three annual HENAAC GMIS College bowls, mentoring and leading college students. He has also been an annual guest speaker at several Hispanic Association of College and Universities events.

Name: Navy Chief Petty Officer Lisette Rivera

Navy Chief Petty Officer Lisette Rivera

Information Systems Technician Chief Petty Officer Lisette Rivera is a native of Long Island, NY. She graduated New Hyde Park Memorial High School and attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, NY. She enlisted in June 1999 and graduated Radioman “A” school in Great Lakes, IL.

Rivera reported to the USS CORMORANT (MHC 57) in Ingleside, Texas, where she received a spot NAM for her involvement in the Engineering Initial Assessment Demonstration, as well as the SURFLANT Spotlight Award. On board the USS CORMORANT, she served as a message clerk, EKMS Alternate and Communications Technician. Her next assignment was Commander, Mine Warfare Command Corpus Christi, Texas, where she served as a Communications Operator.

Her follow on assignment was Naval Operational Support Command Norfolk, V.A. As Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT), she served as the LPO and EKMS Liaison for all COMNAVSURFLANT ships. With Explosive Ordinance Disposal Operational Support Unit (EODOSU TEN), she served as the LPO, EKMS manager and Command Interpreter. She received a spot NAM during her deployment in PANAMAX 2009 for training Panamanian Divers and translating during 50 high risk training dives on ATFP countermeasures exercises. Chief Rivera was next detailed to Commander, Naval Reserve Forces Command, where she currently serves as the Leading Chief Petty Officer.

Chief Rivera is authorized to wear the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement (5 awards), Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and various service ribbons. She has earned Associates in Liberal Arts from Saint Leo University along with various internet technology certifications.

Name: Jessica Yvette Santana

Jessica Yvette Santana

Jessica Yvette Santana joined the Comptroller Group in May 2014 after serving four years in the Marine Corps where she completed tours in Bagram, Afghanistan and Al Udeid, Qatar. She has received the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal among others. She has also received several individual commendations.

Santana is currently in the Material Accounting Section, which is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of over 350,000 material transactions and correcting material billing discrepancies. Command leaders say Santana's willingness to readily accept new roles; her aptitude, attitude and performance to date exhibit the traits and work ethic of those that move into leadership roles.

Ms. Santana's spouse serves with the Marine Corps Aircraft Group 14.

Name: Lucille Mirra

Lucille Mirra

Lucille Mirra is a Marine Corp veteran who served from Jan. 1984 to Sept. 1997. Her commendations include the Good Conduct Medal with Silver Star, Commanding General Certificate of Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Accommodation Medal and a Presidential Certificate of Appreciation.

Mirra joined the Comptroller Group's Material Accounting Section in 2000 and was quickly promoted to the General Ledger accounting section. She is a Budget Analyst responsible for the funding for Customer Support. Mirra is not only recognized for her job performance, but her drive to share her experiences and mentor fellow employees. Leaders say Mirra represents the “backbone” of the Comptroller group and is willing to take on those tasks that keep the command operating.

Name: Ruben A. Filomeno

Ruben A. Filomeno

Ruben A. Filomeno is the director of the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Office of Equal Employment and Diversity. Filomeno also served in various leadership positions at the Defense Industrial Supply Center, Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and DLA Troop Support. He has provided guidance and direction to Flag Officers, Senior Managers, Mid-Level and First-Line Managers, Special Emphasis Program Groups, Affinity Organizations and employees on issues relative to equal employment, diversity recruitment, employee development, and other Equal Employment Opportunity and Human Resource Management matters.

Filomeno has received numerous awards for his leadership and development of recruitment models, student employment programs, community service, and for Co-Chairing National Conferences that increased cultural awareness and the benefits of recruiting a diverse workforce in the Federal Government and Private Industry. Filomeno's diversity recruitment model has resulted in DLA and DLA Troop Support increasing the representation of Hispanics, African-American, Asian-Americans, and other groups in the workforce. He has received awards from National Image Incorporated, Federally Employed Women, Blacks-in-Government, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, the Defense Supply Center Richmond, and the Federal Executive Board for outstanding support of Diversity Recruitment and Equal Opportunity goals and objectives. Filomeno has also provided training seminars to Federal Agencies in the Philadelphia Area on Leadership at the Partners in Equality Conference.

Filomeno received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Drexel University in June of 1983 and a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University in December of 2002. For 22 years he has served as president of the Consistory of Bethel United Church and has also coached boys and girls basketball teams in Horsham, PA.

Name: David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez is the director of the Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support providing enterprise-wide agency policy, program, and worldwide operational support in environmental management, safety and occupational health; property, plant and equipment; installations management; security and emergency services; family and morale, welfare and recreation; and graphics for DLA. DLA Installation Support directs administration of corporate policy for centralized management and support services functions of the agency.

Rodriguez is a native of Brooklyn, New York, with a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico, a Master of Business Administration from Tarleton State University, and a Master of Science in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University. During his 27-year career in the U.S. Army, Rodriguez served as a logistics officer performing a wide variety of disciplines, including general supply management and distribution, subsistence management, and conducting operational tests on combat service support systems and equipment. Rodriguez retired from the Army as a colonel in 2010.

Rodriguez has served in multiple leadership positions within DLA since July 1992. His first tour with DLA was at the former Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna, Pa., where he served as deputy chief of the Subsistence Division and chief of the Warehousing and Packing Division. He later served in Germany as commander of the Kaiserslautern Cold Storage Distribution Center and Support Operations Officer, in what was then the Defense Distribution Depot Europe. While in Germany, he also served as Chief, Logistics Operation Division, Warrior Preparation Center, a simulation center in support of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Army Europe. In July 1999, Rodriguez was assigned to the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, Fort Hood, Texas, where he served as chief of the Combat Service Support Test Division.

He departed Texas in 2001 to assume command of then DLA's Defense Distribution Depot Tobyhanna, Pa., until the summer of 2003. After command, he served on the Army staff (G-8), Force Development Directorate, as the force manager for quartermaster programs. He departed the Army staff to attend ICAF with a follow-on joint assignment with DLA Headquarters. While assigned to DLA Headquarters, he served as the interim Commander, Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (now DLA Disposition Services), in Battle Creek, Mich., and as chief of the Disposition Management and Regulated Programs Division. He then relocated to California where he served as Commander of DLA's Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin, Calif., now known as DLA Distribution San Joaquin.

Mr. Rodriguez's decorations include the Legion of Merit, DLA Exceptional Civilian Service Award, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (three oak leaf clusters), and Meritorious Service Medal (four OLC).

Name: Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Marisol Dumlao

Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Marisol Dumlao

Information Systems Technician Master Chief Petty Officer Marisol Dumlao was born in Waukegan, Ill. After graduating from Escuela Superior Jose Rojas Cortes in Orocovis, Puerto Rico, Dumlao enlisted in the U.S. Navy in July 1999. She reported to USS La Moure County in Little Creek, Va., after completing RM ‘A' School in Great Lakes, Ill. During her tour there, she completed a UNITAS deployment and later decommissioned the ship.

In March 2001, she reported to USS Inchon in Ingleside, Texas. While there, she advanced to Petty Officer Second Class and qualified Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist and Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist while also completing a Western Pacific deployment. She later decommissioned the ship.

In March 2002, Dumlao reported to Reserve Readiness Command Southeast in Jacksonville, FL. She was selected as the Sailor of the Year two years in a row and was advanced to Petty Officer First Class. She then transferred to Fleet Maritime Patrol Mobile Operations Communication Center, Golf in Whidbey Island, WA in 2006, where she completed a deployment in the Philippines and was selected to Chief Petty Officer.

In September 2010, she reported to Mobile Expeditionary Security Squadron NINE in Whidbey Island, Wash., serving as the Senior Enlisted Leader. She completed a Rim of the Pacific detachment and qualified Expeditionary Warfare Specialist. She was also selected to Senior Chief Petty Officer.

In September 2013, she transferred to Commander, Naval Reserve Forces Command, where she was selected to Master Chief and is currently serving as the Information Technology Department Senior Enlisted Leader.

Dumlao has earned a Master's Degree from Webster University. She is a graduate of the Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, RI (BC 52). Her personal awards include Navy Commendation Medal (Three Awards) and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Name: Marine Corps Maj. Miguel Moreno

Marine Corps Maj. Miguel Moreno

Marine Corps Maj. Miguel Moreno serves as a Manpower Analyst, at Headquarters Marine Corps, Manpower Plans & Policy Division, Quantico, VA.

Moreno was born in Redwood City, CA and graduated from Newark Memorial High School in 1994.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps immediately after high school. Moreno attended basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA. He served as a mortar man, 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division from December 1994 to August 1998 and completed two unit deployment program cycles to Okinawa, Japan. Moreno's next assignment was 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he served as platoon sergeant for the 81mm Mortar Training section from August 1998 to June 1999.

He was selected for the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training Program and for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program. He graduated from the University of Idaho, with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 2004.

Moreno attended the Basic School, Quantico VA from July 2014 to January 2015. His first duty station as a commissioned officer was in Okinawa, Japan. Moreno served as the assistant division adjutant, 3rd Marine Division, from February 2005 to September 2005. Moreno later served as the battalion adjutant, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division Okinawa, Japan from September 2005 to December 2007. While assigned to Okinawa, he participated in operational Exercises “ULCHI FOCUS LENS” and “COBRA GOLD”.

He was later assigned to the School of Infantry-East, Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he served as the school adjutant from January 2008 to May 2011. Following this assignment, Moreno attended the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey Calif., from June 2011 to March 2013. He graduated with a Master of Science in Management, Manpower Systems Analysis and currently serves as the Unrestricted Officer Promotion Planner, Headquarters Marine Corps, Quantico, VA.

Moreno's military awards and decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Maine Corps Achievement Medal (second award), the National Defense Service Medal (second award), the Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, and the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (third award).

Name: Navy Capt. Gisele M. Bonitz

Navy Capt. Gisele M. Bonitz

Navy Capt. Gisele M. Bonitz assumed her current position as the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific Executive Officer in July 2014.

Prior, she was the executive assistant and chief of staff at Space and Naval Warfare Command for two years. At SPAWAR, she also served as advisor to the chief engineer for a year.

Bonitz is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program. She attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and earned a Master of Science in Space Systems Operations. She also attended the Air War College in Montgomery Alabama, where she earned a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies.

During her early assignments, Bonitz served as watch officer at Naval Facility Bermuda, the intelligence officer and public affairs officer at Commander, Undersea Surveillance, Pacific in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and as assistant officer in charge at the Naval Air Technical Training Center, Detachment Lakehurst in Lakehurst, New Jersey. She also served as the enlisted programs officer at Navy Recruiting District San Francisco in Oakland, California. She led 250 recruiters with 56 recruiting stations across two states.

In 2002, Bonitz reported to Commander, Third Fleet in San Diego. In October 2003, she was selected as the chief of information assurance for the entire country at the Combined Joint Task Force Seven in Baghdad, Iraq. She supported a multinational coalition of 120 thousand users of multiple networks. Upon her return in June 2004, Bonitz assumed the duties of deputy of the innovations and experimentation directorate at Third Fleet. She interfaced with technical community representatives and brought the latest technology to the Fleet.

In December 2004, Bonitz reported to Expeditionary Strike Group One as assistant chief of staff for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence. During the deployment, she set up a communications infrastructure that supported the strike group's operations in three simultaneous theaters. She was also responsible for maritime communications for the multinational coalition exercise Bright Star 2005 and developed the Concepts of Operations for the UAV, SCAN EAGLE.

Following her sea tour, Bonitz assumed the duties of East Coast Aircraft Carriers C4I Installation assistant program manager at the Program Executive Office for C4I in San Diego, California.

At the end of July 2008, Bonitz reported to the United States Strategic Command as its new information operations joint munitions effectiveness manual program manager and the Computer Network Defense and Information Assurance branch chief. Following that assignment, she was selected as deputy, Cyberspace and C2 Requirements Division. In December 2009, she was selected as the internet technology program manager for the new billion dollar headquarters building and the division chief for the IT Enterprise System and Plans Division.

Bonitz is a member of the Navy's Information Dominance Corps, Information Professional Community, the Space Cadre and the Defense Department Acquisition Corps. Her personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Medal, four Commendation Medals, and two Navy Achievement Medals.

Name: Navy Reservist Chief Petty Officer Virginia Sanchez

Navy Reservist Chief Petty Officer Virginia Sanchez

Navy Reservist Chief Petty Officer Virginia Sanchez is a navy librarian and a public librarian. Her experience includes employment as a contractor in support of the Department of Homeland Security; Immigration Customs and Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations as a Reports Officer/Editor, an Intelligence Analyst and Targeting Analyst.

She is an advisor for the “Coming Home Long Beach” project of the Long Beach Public Library, geared toward assisting returning service members locate relevant resources, and a mentor for graduate library school students from her alma mater, the University of Arizona, School of Information Resources and Library Science. She is a member of the China Lake Chief Petty Officer's Association; participates in the Expanding Your Horizon science, technology, engineering and mathematics program for sixth through eighth grade girls; is a member of the Hispanic Engagement Action Team, the Individuals with Disabilities Advisory Team and participates in the NAVAIR Women's Action Group Book Discussion Group. She is part of a certified therapy dog team, along with her Great Pyrenees dog, Captain Jack.

In addition to federal service, Sanchez was a library consultant for the National Asian and Pacific Islander Families Against Substance Abuse; and a branch manager for both Long Beach Public Library and the County of Los Angeles Public Library. She has worked in the Law Enforcement Library at the California Department of Justice, the Resource Center Library at the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, and in the Law Library at the California Legislative Counsel Bureau.

In 2008 she served in Afghanistan as an individual augmentee Analyst/Embedded Team Trainer. While in Afghanistan she volunteered as the Forward Operating Base librarian, in addition to her assigned duties, and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and the Department of Defense National Organization for Mexican American Rights award for significant contribution to the Global War on Terrorism.

Sanchez is the immediate past president of the Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Round Table, is a 2010 Library Journal “Mover and Shaker”, and was inducted as a Chief Petty Officer in 2010. She has a Bachelor of Arts in literature with a minor in communications from California State University Dominguez Hills, and a Master of Arts in information resources and library from the University of Arizona as a Knowledge River Scholar. She holds a black belt in the traditional martial art, Soo Bahk Do, and currently rides a 2009 Harley Davidson 1200 Custom Sportster.

Name: Sarah Torres-Ferrick

Sarah Torres-Ferrick

Sarah Torres-Ferrick is a labor and employee relations specialist at the U.S. Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs Office. In this role, Torres-Ferrick provides expert guidance to subordinate Marine Corps commands on all aspects of labor and employee relations, and effectively represents the U.S. Marine Corps in proceedings before the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Torres-Ferrick is also the Worker's Compensation and Unemployment Compensation program manager for the U.S. Marine Corps. In this capacity Torres-Ferrick has streamlined the way services are provided which has resulted in better customer service for employees, more effective coordination with safety personnel in order to reduce workplace injuries, and improved the connection between the Corps and the Department of Labor to ensure cases are properly and timely sent for processing.

Before her employment with the U.S. Marine Corps, Torres-Ferrick was the labor and employee relations program manager for Naval Facilities Engineering Command. In this capacity she helped design and implement a new system of NAVFAC owned human resources offices under the service delivery initiative. This required standing up new labor and employee relations departments across the country, securing appropriate space for offices, training labor and employee relations specialists, and drafting new policy. At NAVFAC, Torres-Ferrick also served as acting deputy director of civilian human resources. In this role she successfully implemented the new Pathways Program and numerous necessary workplace-shaping initiatives due to funding constraints.

Prior to NAVFAC, Torres-Ferrick was a labor and employee relations specialist at Naval District Washington, where she provided labor and employee relations services to numerous Navy and Defense Department organizations in the National Capital Region. Torres-Ferrick successfully represented the Navy before the Merit Systems Protection Board and Arbitrators. She also implemented E.O. 13522 which requires partnership and pre-decision involvement with unions, as well as the Navy Interim Performance Management System for customers.

Torres-Ferrick is a graduate of the Navy Human Resources Intern Program, and has a Bachelor's degree in philosophy from Christopher Newport University. She is currently working on a Master's in Public Administration from Pennsylvania State University.

Name: Brenda Molina

Brenda Molina

Brenda Molina is an experienced and seasoned staffing and classification human resources specialist at Manpower and Reserve Affairs Department, MPC 10, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. She has held the position since 2013, and leaders say she has been an exemplary employee who goes out of her way to assist others.

Molina began her civilian career with the Army in 1994 and transferred to the Marine Corps with Human Resources and Organizational Management, Quantico, Va., in 2004. In 2011 she temporarily resided in Tampa, Florida, working at MacDill Air Force Base, later returning to Quantico.

Molina has worked in all facets of human resources for more than 20 years, including compensation, classification and staffing within the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Defense Logistics Agency. She has served in positions of increasing authority and responsibility including organization restructuring, strategic planning, policy analysis and program evaluation. She has served on numerous internal and external working groups involving Marine Corps Personnel Civilian matters. Molina has received numerous awards, including an Exemplary Civilian Service Award, Commendation Award, and Certificate of Appreciation from, Unites States Special Operation Command, Unites States Central Command and The Joint Communication Support Element, as well as numerous Ambassador of Quality awards from the Marine Corps.

Molina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from the University of Puerto Rico, and her interest and passion lies in working with people and assisting them in their search for career satisfaction. Molina is married to army veteran Nelson Molina. Her son, Nelson, is on active duty in the Army, and Omar, is on active duty in the Air Force.

Name: Theresa Velazquez

Theresa Velazquez

Theresa Velazquez, an Arizona native, graduated from the University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., in 1991, and was subsequently commissioned a Marine Corps officer through an NROTC scholarship.

After completing The Basic School and the Adjutant's course, she was assigned to the staff of Amphibious Warfare School, Quantico Va. Subsequent tours include serving as a series commander and company executive officer, 4th Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment; Adjutant, 1st Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment; and Commanding Officer, Service Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Parris Island, S.C. until 1998.

Upon returning to federal service in 2004, Velazquez worked as a contracted project analyst for the Navy. In 2005, she joined the Marine Corps civilian workforce as a program analyst at Headquarters Marine Corps, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Manpower Plans and Policy, Civilian Workforce Management Branch.

Velazquez is currently the Diversity Program manager for Headquarters Marine Corps, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Manpower Plans and Policy, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management Branch.

Velazquez volunteers as a 7th grade catechism teacher for the Roman Catholic Faith Community of Saint Michael the Archangel on Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va. She is married to Retired Marine Corps Major Luis Velazquez.

Name: Luis E. Velazquez

Luis E. Velazquez

Luis E. Velazquez is the Marine Corps deputy director for Modeling and Simulations Division, Marine Corps Systems Command, Systems Engineering, Interoperability, Architecture and Technology. Consummate professional leader and information technology engineer with over 28 years of professional experience between the Navy, Marine Corps, industry and federal services providing technical solutions utilizing a vast array of networking and information data systems. Subject matter expert with extensive engineering experience in employing network engineering, software engineering, and systems integration performing general, advance and special purpose services to include Live, Virtual, and Constructive simulation systems integration and interoperability with tactical C4i devices. Velazquez served as chief information officer for two corporate entities supporting distributed learning and analytical support services. With extensive information technology and data communications engineering experience, he has assessed, developed and implemented plans for improvement of modernization of Pre-Deployment Training databases, and identified unit and individual training standard in order to meet the needs of current and expected operation environments. Military Joint Training and U.S. Marine Corps service modeling and simulations project officer, project manager, capabilities and requirements analyst. Lead technical systems analyst, network and software engineer for multiple LVC integration projects. Naval Academy computer science instructor to include assembly language, C# programming, SQL Server and ASP.NET integration for course offerings. Director of Computer and Telecommunications division, responsible for the network administration of critical enterprise switches and servers as well as the voice and data communications networks for the Parris Island, S.C., Marine Corps Depot. Developed quality assurance standard operating procedures, trained personnel on mitigation of conflicting requirements and introduced advance repair technique procedures, expedited and tracked high priority requisitions which allowed a readiness rating above 90 percent. Developed new trouble shooting procedures, recommended modification of existing procedures, interpreted technical data and schematics, maintained maintenance records, identified adequate substitute of standards, and prepared effectiveness reports.

Velazquez has a Master's of Science in Computer Science from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif., a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Fla., and completed Data Systems Officers Course at U.S. marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va.

Name: Jamaries Benitez-Negron

Jamaries Benitez-Negron

Jamaries Benitez-Negron was born and raised in Corozal, Puerto Rico, and was always interested in engineering because her grandfather, a World War II veteran, was an engineer in the Army.

In 1998, Benitez set her goal as an eighth grader to study chemical engineering at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez. She completed high school in two years, taking a full curriculum during the day, and enrolling in a home school program at night and during summers. At 16, Benitez became one of 125 students accepted to study chemical engineering at the University of Puerto Rico. In 2003, she started her bachelor degree program with a full time curriculum and enrolled in federal program of work-study to pay for expenses. She also trained for the track and field athletic team.

During her sophomore year, Benitez was encouraged by doctors to drop out of college because of health concerns, but she refused, choosing to continue and battle through the health challenges, work, and studies. She also spent one year doing research on air quality with an environmental laboratory.

In 2008, Benitez accepted a cooperative education agreement with Eli Lilly Pharmaceutics in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The opportunity gave her the tools necessary to practice in her field of study as a Quality Assurance Engineer, and allowed her time to hone her English language skills. In 2010 Benitez was cleared of health concerns and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico.

Her professional career began with the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., in October 2010, where she was selected for the Engineering Scientist Development Program assigned to the Manufacturing and Quality Division. Benitez considers her move alone to the United States among her highest achievements. It meant being away from family and friends and adapting to a new way of life.

In 2011, Benitez was assigned to support two programs as a manufacturing and quality industrial engineer, which required a great amount of travel. One of the programs was the Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, where she audited 447 aircraft items, created a Memorandum of Agreement between the government and their contractors, and reviewed Critical Safety Items, creating a document with the requirements and briefing the Program Management. The other program was the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, where Benitez created quality instructions to assure the integrity of the procured products and services, developed a detail plan for the production readiness review, and completed a schedule risk assessment. Her responsibilities include reviewing and assessing product quality, manufacturing processes, compliance with requirements, and the overall quality of the program management. Benitez was recognized with a letter of appreciation for volunteering to draft and deliver the quality instructions within a short 15-day window. This award had never been given before, because it exceeded NAVAIR's expectations. The instructions were essential for maintaining the schedule of an Engineering Development Model for one of the programs.

In 2012, Benitez began ESDP rotations every six months, first in the Fuels and Fuel Systems Branch, and later in the Polymers and Composites Branch. In her first rotation, she worked as a fuels engineer on alternative and petroleum-based fuels, providing direct support to In-Service Engineering and Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation. Responsibilities included: evaluation of alternative fuel properties, fleet fuel quality issues, data analysis and charting. For her second rotation, Ms. Benitez provided direct support to V-22, H-1, H-60, and H-53K aircraft by performing laboratory testing to characterize and quantify composite materials and repairs.

Also in 2012, Benitez volunteered as a mentor in the Defense Department's STARBASE Atlantis and STARBASE 2.0 programs which provide science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-oriented education and hands-on activities for over 850 students every year. Volunteer efforts include assisting students to learn to use Computer-Aided Design software to design their own components for the International Space Station, and designing and launching their own rockets. Her STARBASE 2.0 team won first place in the local and national competition for designing, building and racing 1/32 scale slot cars, earning them attendance to a congressional reception to share their successes with U.S. senators.

In 2013, Benitez began supporting four different programs as a Quality and Manufacturing Industrial Engineer. The programs include the Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, the Tactical Combat and Training Systems and the Joint Precision Approach and Landing Systems ship-based and aircraft platforms. In addition, she volunteered to be part of the recruitment and retention sub-team of the NAVAIR's Women's Advisory Group. The WAG provides an open forum to discuss topics of concern and interest to women in the workplace, such as family friendly work policies, identifying and removing barriers for women to advance in their positions, increasing participation by females in science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives, and enlarging the applicant pool to include more women for occupations where they currently have been identified as having low participation rates. She also volunteered for the Homework Help Program at Great Mills High School, an after school program to assist students with learning disabilities, low-attendance and behavior issues.

After participating in “Wow! That's Engineering!,” a Society of Women Engineers program to demonstrate hands-on engineering activities to middle school girls, Benitez became the volunteer coordinator and part of the registration and evaluation team for Expanding Your Horizons of Southern Maryland. It is a one-day outreach effort to show middle school girls how interesting, exciting and fun STEM activities and careers can be through various activities. Benitez also volunteered to be one of the founding members, and current secretary, for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers of Southern Maryland chapter, established in 2013. She was the only Hispanic woman showcased as a featured employee by NAVAIR's Hispanic Engagement Action Team in the SHPE Magazine Conference Edition.

Benitez participated in the Noche de Ciencias (Night of Science) where she created and delivered a presentation explaining how glow sticks (chemiluminescense) work, including the history, chemical reaction process, and military and civilian uses. This presentation is a part of a larger project she is creating, which is being funded by SHPE of Southern Maryland, and will be a tool for teachers to use to demonstrate more advanced concepts through hands-on activities.

Some of her other volunteer experiences include: “Lunch with an Engineer” at a local area high school, where she is interviewed by a high school girl for a class project on applying to college and the challenges and rewards of a STEM education and career; and volunteering with Give Camp, an annual weekend-long event during which software developers, designers, and data base administrators donate their time to create custom software and websites for non-profit organizations.

In 2014, Benitez began support of five different programs as a Quality and Manufacturing Industrial Engineer. The programs include the Joint and Allied Thread Awareness System, the AN/APR-39 Radar Warning Receiver, the Tactical Combat and Training Systems, the AN/SPN-43C Air Surveillance Radar replacement and the Joint Precision Approach and Landing Systems ship-based and aircraft platforms. Benitez is pursuing a Masters in System Engineering with the Naval Postgraduate School. She is part of the Second District Volunteering Fire Department and Rescue Squad Auxiliary where she participates in fund raising events and community activities. Benitez volunteered for STEM Day event that featured STEM related demonstrations followed by a STEM Carnival for students. In addition, she volunteered in STEM ING, an event that focuses on inspiring middle school girls. As a workshop lead for Delicious DNA, Benitez created and led a variation of the Delicious DNA workshop for the Mattapany Day Camp for students.

Name: Jesus' O. Godinez

Jesus' O. Godinez

A native of Lima, Peru, Jesus' O. Godinez is currently serving as a civilian Contract Specialist at NAVAIR Patuxent River, Maryland. Jesus serves as member of PMA-262 Trident Program. Godinez is a graduate of NAVAIR Acquisition Intern Program.

Godinez holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Old Dominion University, a Master of Business Administration from Strayer University, a Master of Science in Acquisition and Contract Management, and a Master Certificate in Government Contracting from George Washington University.

Throughout his career, Godinez has remained a role model to others, always leading by example and representing the Hispanic community with and distinction. Using skills he is developing through NAVAIR Junior Leadership Development Program (JLDP), Godinez is active both in NAVAIR and within the community. As a member of NAVAIR's Hispanic Engagement Action Team (HEAT), established to identify potential hiring barriers and increase awareness and morale through mentoring and knowledge sharing, Godinez serves on the HEAT's Development and Retention sub team. Godinez has been an active member of Southern Maryland community for many years. Currently, Godinez serves as the Paralympic Sports Club Southern Maryland Advisory Board, Director of Scholarships and Grants, National Contract Management Association, Chesapeake Chapter, and member of Optimist Club Lexington Park, and a volunteer at “The Mission.” Godinez is a member of Dominion Apostolic Ministries and currently serves on Pastoral council.

Name: Hannah Lugo-Ascorbe

Hannah Lugo-Ascorbe

Hannah Lugo-Ascorbe is a staffing and classification human resources specialist at Manpower and Reserve Affairs Department, MPC 10, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Quantico, Va. Leaders say she is passionate about her job and will do anything possible to assist others. She has been in her position since 2012.

In June 2001, Lugo-Ascorbe moved to Washington, D.C., two weeks after graduating the Inter-American University, Puerto Rico with a bachelor's degree in Human Resources and Management. She immediately began an internship with the Defense Logistics Agency and upon completion, accepted a contract position with the NAVY Military Sealift Command. In October 2001, she began her federal career with the Department of Agriculture as a human resources assistant. In October 2003, she transferred to Washington Headquarters Services where she became a human resources specialist. In September 2009 she joined U.S. Marine Corps, Quantico, Va., as a human resources advisor. Lugo-Ascorbe says she has enjoyed working in the field for more than a decade and is looking forward to advancing. She has been requested to serve as a translator for customers that need assistance in interpreting documents, and has been awarded for her excellent customer service, going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction, spreading goodwill toward the military and the community.

Name: F. Michael Sena

Michael Sena

F. Michael Sena is the deputy director of the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness). Prior to his current assignment he served as the director of external and internal relations for the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy.

Sena has more than 28 years of experience in human resources (with emphasis on labor relations, employee relations and classification), equal employment opportunity, and most recently in diversity and inclusion. He is a certified mediator and specializes in Congressional and legislative affairs. Sena has previously served as the chief of staff for the former DoD Civilian Personnel Management Service (now Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service); was a member of the Air Staff Civilian Personnel Directorate, United States Department of the Air Force; served as an EEO complaint investigator and mediator for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Air Force Appellate and Review Agency; and served as a human resources specialist on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Sena was awarded a master’s degree from the National Defense University, Industrial College of the Armed Forces and graduated cum laude from Eastern New Mexico University with a bachelor of business administration degree. Additionally, Sena has completed various leadership courses, including the Air Force Squadron Officer School, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Federal Executive Institute, and the DoD Leadership and Management Program. Sena completed additional graduate courses at American University and Georgetown University – both in Washington, D.C.

Sena is a member of various DoD and inter-agency government human resources committees, has received numerous merit awards, and is a past member of the International Personnel Management Association.

Name: James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez is the deputy assistant secretary of defense, Office of Warrior Care Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense. In this role, he serves as the principal advisor on the coordination of recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration for wounded, ill, and injured service members across the military departments.

Rodriguez previously served as the director for veteran and wounded warrior programs at BAE Systems. In that capacity, he acted as the corporate liaison for the White House Joining Forces initiative, interacting with senior military leaders, government officials, and nonprofit organizations to increase the footprint of our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured across all spectrums.

Rodriguez served 21 years in the U.S. Marine Corps in numerous leadership and management positions. He deployed to more than 11 countries and served in Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Eastern Exit-Somalia, and Operation Enduring Freedom. During his final duty assignment at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, he was the senior enlisted advisor to the officer in charge of the Wounded Warrior Battalion, where he was responsible for the transition, development, and education of service members with service-connected disabilities.

Rodriguez holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland, University College and a Master of Arts degree in international commerce and policy from the George Mason University School of Public Policy. He and his wife, Vanessa, have two college-age daughters, Courtney and Casey.

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