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NEWS | July 13, 2023

Norfolk Naval Shipyard Highlights Employees Chosen for the NAVSEA NEXTGEN Leadership Program: David Leon II and Brittany Tavassoli

By Kristi Britt, Public Affairs Specialist Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) and its tenant locations recently saw the selection of seven individuals for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Next Generation of Leadership (NEXTGEN) Program, which offers participants the chance to learn about leadership throughout several different initiatives for the next year.

This enterprise-wide initiative takes civilian employees at a GS 7-11 level through a self-paced blended course approach through classroom and online studies to build up their skills through assessment, experimental learning, and individual development opportunities. At the completion of the program, the participants will have the skills to prepare them for future management roles throughout NAVSEA.

Congratulations to Inventory Management Specialist Colt Brinkman, Contract Specialist Brittany Tavassoli, Nuclear Engineering Technician Venita Scott, Quality Assurance Specialist David Leon II, Reactor Services Supervisory Operations Project Zone Manager LaShonda Dunston, Naval Architect Technician Stacia Spath from NNSY, and  Radioactive Material Controller Doug Mandell from Nuclear Regional Maintenance Department (NRMD) Kings Bay. For the next few months, we will be highlighting these individuals in a NEXTGEN series, celebrating their achievements as they work through the program.

Interested in becoming a future participant of the NEXTGEN program? Applications will be accepted until June 26 at 12 p.m. for all interested civilian employees (GS 7-11). For more information and to download an application, visit

Shipbuilding Quality Assurance Specialist David Leon II first heard about the NEXTGEN in 2020 after reading an article in Service to the Fleet highlighting selectees participating in the program. Inspired to take that next step in his career, he went to the Command University tab on WebCentral to learn more and apply.

“The idea of doing something new, something different and something outside of my daily job interested me in applying for NEXTGEN,” said Leon. “I liked the idea of traveling to a different command and working with fellow NAVSEA employees who may not work at a shipyard.  I also wanted to challenge myself and start building my foundation of leadership skills.”

When asked about what he hopes to accomplish within the program, Leon noted that he didn’t have an exact end goal in mind.  Instead, he wanted to diversify his portfolio and gain whatever experience he could from the program.  “I hope to accomplish learning more about the inner workings of NAVSEA, build personal relationships, and add to my professional network,” he said. “I hope to bring back a positive experience to share and possibly influence the next person to apply for NEXTGEN. And as I continue my journey, I would like to pursue other leadership programs and continue diversifying my professional portfolio.  See where it leads me.”

When asked what advice he could provide his fellow shipyarders, he said, “I would advise my fellow shipyarders to take advantage of every opportunity the shipyard offers.  The shipyard is going to utilize you to complete their mission, so utilize the shipyard to develop yourself to complete the mission, whatever internal mission you have.  Even if you have no interest in being a supervisor, the development programs offered by tNNSY have helped me with my daily interactions, whether it be my personal relationships, professional relationships, or communicating better with my teenage son.”

Leon closed with a familiar quote from Theodore Roosevelt, encapsulating his journey and his efforts to expand his knowledge. “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.”

Contract Specialist Brittany Tavassoli first learned about the NEXTGEN program in an all hands to the workforce, which shared details on leadership opportunities offered by NAVSEA.

“While the subject line sparked my interests, I researched the program a bit further and attended the informational sessions,” said Tavassoli. “I discovered that the NEXTGEN program aligns directly with the NAVSEA mission I support in my day-to-day operations at NNSY. Instilling the morals and ethics of the NAVSEA organization is important while empowering employees to support the mission. This program captured my attention through its initiative to retain entry-level employees through leadership development to include mentoring, training, and influencing individuals across the organization.”

Since orientation in October 2022, Tavassoli noted she has already gained an extended network of like-minded people across the enterprise, each individual empowering one another in their personal and professional journeys. “I look forward to suggesting and implementing additional avenues to support developing employees as subject matter experts in their current and future roles,” she said. “Once the program is complete, I look forward to mentoring my peers and empowering them to step forward and lead from their current position while striving to impact change and reach their goals.”

Tavassoli hopes that others are inspired to join this and other leadership programs as she was. “My advice is to step out of your comfort zone and apply! This is a wonderful opportunity to advocate for your personal development and future,” Tavassoli said. “If you’re on the fence about applying for these programs, interested individuals are welcome to contact me and I can share my experiences with them. We’re part of ONE TEAM and I’m happy to help others wherever I can, just as others have done for me and my career.”