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NEWS | May 2, 2022

Asian American & Pacific Islanders Heritage Month Employee Spotlight: NSWC Philadelphia Honors Contracting Officer’s Representative Supervisor, Kim Yee

By Gary Ell

“Ultimately, we are a Nation of diverse cultures and ethnic groups, striving to embrace the values of each other under a set of standards and belief of ‘inclusion and understanding,’”
– Kim Yee

Kim Yee, a proud Chinese American, serves as a Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) Supervisor, at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division, supporting the Machinery Programs & Platforms Department.

When asked about what Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month means to him Yee stated, “This month celebrates the contributions of millions of Asian and Pacific Islanders to the ‘American Story’ and reminds us of the unique and emerging challenges facing Asians as they continue to embrace the American dream.”

Yee emphasized that AAPI Heritage Month is important because it recognizes significant contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders in America, with that designation encompassing more than 50 ethnic or language groups, including Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.

“Challenges such as (the) current uptick of unprovoked violence against AAPI communities, encourage us to seek out, leverage, and embrace (the) diversity of ideas, experiences, talents, languages, and cultural backgrounds to strengthen and unite us,” Yee added.

Having joined the Warfare Centers in 1987, Yee is an authoritative expert and program leader in planning, formulating, organizing, and directing extensive technical activities to meet requirements in machinery technologies of advanced systems for new acquisition and in-service engineering programs. He also possesses extensive contracting experience.

Throughout his 34-year career, Yee has held a number of significant positions including NSWCPD Deputy Chief Engineer and Acquisition Manager. He has managed a number of high-profile programs including serving as the USS Arleigh Burke Destroyer (DDG 51) Class Acquisition Platform Manager, the CGX Hull, Mechanical & Electrical (HM&E) System Engineering Manager for Naval Sea Systems Command Surface Ship Design and Systems Engineering, Future Surface Combatant (FSC) Flight III Study Machinery Engineering Manager, and USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) Machinery Controls System and Damage Control Automation Lead.

When asked about singling out any one individual who motivated him to learn and succeed, Yee said, “The person who most inspired me the most in my career was Mr. Paul Socoloski. He was my branch head in 2000 and recognized my talents early in my career and was instrumental in encouraging me to take on challenging tasks within management and leadership roles. After many years in-between, I had the great opportunity to serve as his Deputy Chief Engineer in the NSWCPD CHENG (Chief Engineer’s) office.”

“The important life lesson I gained is, to be honest, work hard, be a problem solver, create value added, look for what others are missing, and be a mentor,” he added.

Yee, a proactive advocate for the advancement of NSWCPD’s AAPI employees, continuously promotes diversity and inclusion in the federal government workforce. As the Naval Asian Society Employee Resource Group (NASERG) advisor, Yee was instrumental in the inception and establishment of NSWCPD’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to promote cultural awareness and inclusion to improve the representation of under-represented groups and minorities at all levels of the organization. As advisor, he leads a core NASERG team to develop programs that help to develop Asian and Pacific Islander roles within the government. He has also represented NSWCPD at several White House Initiative Asian American and Pacific Islander (WHIAPPI) events in previous years.

Yee provides leadership seeking to continuously foster a diverse, inclusive workforce, and workplace by building NASERG leadership capability and organizational capacity. He strives to create a culture and work environment of inclusivity that fosters creativity and innovation. Yee promotes AAPI engagement through awareness and inclusive leadership skills training, promoting work-life balance, flexibility, and supporting recruiting and hiring, STEM outreach, onboarding, mentoring, continuous learning, and development-retention, as well as other key talent management strategies.

Under his leadership, NASERG has hosted NSWCPD annual AAPI Month celebrations, featuring guest speakers from both academia and government senior leadership. The NASERG has also spearheaded employee networking events and flex-lunch activities to encourage peer-to-peer networking/mentoring that in turn foster learning opportunities.

In addition, Yee has been actively involved with NSWCPD recruitment efforts promoting, establishing, and maintaining an effective and equitable participation of AAPIs in the workforce. He represented NSWCPD at the NAVSEA National Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) conference and as the lead recruiter at the SASE regional conference hosted by the University of Maryland. Yee has also supported NSWCPD local recruiting events on-site at Princeton University and City College of New York.

He has furthered the division’s diversity goals by leading and actively participating on the command’s Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee (EEOAC) as a member since 2010. During his tenure, he has served as the EEOAC Chairperson, leading the team’s review of Management Directive 715 (MD-715) and the development of NSWC’s Annual EEOAC Organization Assessment. He also led the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) Organizational Climate Survey (DEOCS) Command Survey Assessment Team in the review/assessment of survey data, written comments, and focus groups.

As a supervisor, Yee has managed diverse groups of employees from various backgrounds, leveraged diversity, and advocated compliance to EEO goals and objectives to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and has equal access to opportunities. As a result, employees have reached out to Yee seeking counseling relating to career opportunities and mentoring.
Yee has also promoted outreach and diversity as a member of the NSWCPD Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Outreach Team. He has served as a NSWCPD Navy SeaPerch mentor, culminating in winning the "against all odds" award for a first year team during the annual Greater Philadelphia SeaPerch Challenge underwater robotics competition. He was also the NSWCPD mentor, under DODSTEM (formerly National Defense Education Program), from 2015-2017, spending months preparing a high school robotics team for competition, and helping his team take home the Gracious Professionalism Award.

“See a need, fill a need” is a motto that Yee lives by. His advice to the generation born tomorrow? “No matter what you do, learn to love it and it'll never be just a job!”

Yee himself received the 2014 Magnificent 8 – Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely Award for Achievement in Equity & Diversity Award, which recognizes an individual for significant contribution to the promotion of understanding of cultural differences and to furthering equal employment opportunity for all persons at all levels in the workplace - all of which are endeavors that Yee has bolstered within the division.

Yee earned a Bachelor’s of Engineering from City College of New York in 1986 and Master’s of Science in Engineering Science from Penn State University in 1994. He also achieved the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) Level III Certification for Systems Planning, Research, Development & Engineering - Science and Technology.