Dr. Judy Conley, Platform Integrity Science and Technology Director (acting), and Jessica McElman, Division Head for Underwater Electromagnetic Signatures and Technology, were interviewed by Federal News Radio Executive Editor Jason Miller, Feb. 21, after being named leaders in the technology sector and finalists for the Women in Technology (WIT) leadership awards, Government and Defense category. Both Conley and McElman work at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division in West Bethesda, Maryland.
WIT is a professional association dedicated to the advancement of women in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia technology community. The annual awards program identifies, recognizes and celebrates female professionals who are leaders in the technology field and bring a unique vision and talent to the industry. For the Government and Defense category, nominees were considered for their efforts to lead or empower others to be architects of change in the technology sector; to achieve success in a technology field or organization; to mentor and advance women from the classroom to the boardroom; and to engage with the community through outreach and civic involvement.
Conley was recognized for her role as an engineer, her expertise in submarine arctic structures and flight-deck heating, and her role as first line supervisor. She has led projects worth millions of dollars and has planned tests for Navy assets worth billions of dollars and continues to pave a path for women to work and garner respect in their fields. Nearly 25% of Conley’s team are women. Conley also serves on Carderock’s Innovation Advisor Council to facilitate a culture of innovation throughout the command.
“I appreciate the consideration from my leadership to nominate me for this recognition,” said Conley. “I have been truly fortunate to spend my career in this arena surrounded by very intelligent and talented colleagues.
Department Head for the Platform Integrity Department Gerard Mercier praised Conley for her accomplishment.
“During her 30-plus years of service, Dr. Conley has constantly provided unique solutions and approaches to the technical challenges. She has also influenced dozens of employees to share information and knowledge openly using modern tools,” Mercier said. “Her leadership has taught others the value of collaboration and knowledge sharing.”
McElman was recognized for steadily rising from an entry-level electrical engineer to Head of the Underwater Electromagnetic (UEM) Signatures and Technology Division. Today, she oversees $45 million of UEM signatures and technology research, development, test and evaluation being performed by 85 government and 60 contractor employees. She directs a formal mentoring program that ensures that all junior engineers and scientists are matched with a mentor. The mentors help their mentees with the difficult transition from college student to full-time professional.
“I really appreciate being considered for this award both by Carderock and within WIT leadership. I could not have accomplished what I have without the support and encouragement of my colleagues, and I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to contribute to the safety of our fleet and service members,” McElman said.
Department Head for the Ship Signatures Department Dr. Paul Shang applauded McElman’s hard work and nomination.
“Jessica has displayed exemplary leadership and sustained extraordinary service to the Department of Defense, while providing exceptional mentorship and contributions to the community,” Shang said. “Her vision for the division is to be a world-class innovator for the UEM signature reduction technologies that keep the fleet at sea, while maintaining a culture of affordability. She established a new division organizational architecture to carry out this vision, providing a renewed clarity of purpose. She has demonstrated an exceptional ability to recognize and act upon changing direction from above and feedback from employees.”
Following the announcement of this year’s finalists, Miller sat down to talk with the pair for an upcoming special edition of Federal News Radio podcast, “Ask the CIO,” which runs at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Thursdays. Conley’s and McElman’s segment will air in April.
WIT will announce the award recipients during the Leadership Awards banquet, May 21, at the Sheraton Tysons Hotel in Tysons Corner, Virginia. For more information on the event or other WIT award finalists, visit www.womenintechnology.org/2020-leadership-awards-finalists.