BREMERTON, Wash. —
Two Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility employees were selected as recipients of Leadership Kitsap’s 20 Under 40 awards for their noteworthy contributions at work and in the community.
Insulator Supervisor Michelle Berger, Shop 57, Insulation Repair, Removal and Installation, and Nuclear Engineer Titus Woodson, Code 2300, Nuclear Engineering and Planning, along with 18 other exceptional Kitsap-area leaders under the age of 40 were honored at a ceremony Jan. 30 at Kitsap Conference Center in Bremerton in front of more than 200 family, friends, supporters and community leaders.
Berger is co-lead of the shipyard’s Women in Trades Employee Resource Group. In addition, she volunteers outside the fenceline with Harmony Hill in Mason County, a retreat for cancer patients and their families.
“Frankly, I love to volunteer because it feels good,” said Berger. “When a mission is important to you, it’s easy to give what you can to it. For me, that means my time. Volunteering is a gift I give myself.”
Woodson is co-lead of the shipyard’s African-American Employee Resource Group and is a musician in the shipyard's volunteer orchestra. He also participates in school outreach activities from elementary to college level and children’s programs at his church.
“Growing up, I was a part of activities that were only possible because of volunteers,” Woodson said. “I cannot repay all of those people so I volunteer as a way to pay it forward.”
In addition to having a spirit of volunteerism in common, the pair also have entrepreneurial streaks.
“My older brothers used to pay me to clean their rooms for them,” Berger said of her four siblings. “This started at a young age so I made out pretty good for an eight-year-old.”
Woodson, on the other hand, looked around his neighborhood for business opportunities.
“I made my first dollar in elementary school cutting lawns,” he said, eventually graduating to a regular paycheck. “My first job was lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons at age 15.”
Both Berger and Woodson understand the importance of the contributions they and their colleagues make at PSNS & IMF.
“I love the work we do,” Berger said. “I believe each individual and the work they do here is important.”
She added, “The shipyard promotes professional and personal growth among our diverse workforce and provides a platform for individuals to have heart and still maintain our mission. That’s pretty cool.”
Woodson is proud to work for the Navy, stating, “The work I do is necessary for our country to be strong and it is gratifying to part a part of it.”
The 20 Under 40 program is coordinated by Leadership Kitsap, a leadership development initiative launched in 1995. Two to three shipyard employees graduate from the Leadership Kitsap program every year and applications are now available for Leadership Kitsap Class of 2021.