What I Do: NASA Manager Dennis Davidson ’82

Photo: Formal head and shoulders studio portrait of Norwich alum and NASA manager Dennis Davidson
WHAT I DO:

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Dennis Davidson ’82
Manager, Program Control and Integration Office

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NASA Commercial Crew Program
Johnson Space Center

Mention NASA and most people think of astronauts and engineers. But any space program “starts with the budget,” says Norwich alum Dennis Davidson. “Without money, nothing’s gonna happen.” During the Shuttle era, Davidson was the no. 2 in charge of business operations for the $4 billion-a-year program. Today he manages 35 staffers and an annual budget of $1.2 billion for NASA’s crewed space flight program. The program’s main thrust is vehicle development contracts with commercial aerospace companies Space X and Boeing to send astronauts to the International Space Station and on other low-Earth orbit missions. He started his de facto NASA career shortly after his NU graduation, working for five years at Johnson Space Center while wearing an Air Force uniform. Thirty years on, he helps navigate Congress’s stopgap continuing budget resolutions to keep agency missions aiming for the heavens.

What’s your job at NASA?
In government lingo, program control is all the business functions. It’s procurement and contracting. It’s the finances. It’s IT. It’s security. Public relations. Legislative affairs. Interfacing with the center legal offices. We have a lot of oversight committees, seven or eight, including an aerospace safety advisory panel. It’s also about keeping the money flowing from fiscal year to fiscal year, so that the astronauts and engineers can go do their jobs and the contracts can perform.

Are you the top guy?
I am.

What’s it like to work at NASA? Any highlights?
There was a point in my career where I had an office in the same building as Mission Control. So being there every day, walking past Mission Control Center, being aware of that history. “Houston, we’ve got a problem” from Apollo 13. Or “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” That all those words came to Houston first. Being a part of that going forward was just huge.

The second piece is just the quality of the workforce down here. I mean you come in every day and work with just awesome people, who are fun to be around, smart, [and] solving hard, hard problems every day. Being in a position to participate and at times just observe and see that take place has just been fascinating.

I’ve moved around to several different jobs. But I was in the Shuttle Program for the last few years that we were flying. Being a part of those last few missions, when you knew STS-133, STS-134, STS-135 were almost at the end. We finished assembling the Space Station. We were not going to fly these vehicles anymore. These were the last flights. Just knowing the importance of what was going on at that point in time and being a part of it.

What do you see when you look at the space exploration landscape today?
NASA on the whole is still doing in-house development for deep space exploration. Whether it’s the robotic spacecraft that are currently operating on Mars or the Orion crewed vehicle that’s being developed here that will be capable of going to the moon or to Mars. There’s also a new NASA rocket, called the SLS, the space launch system, that’s going to take the Orion into space.

What we’re starting to do commercially is operating in what we refer to as low-Earth orbit, so up to 250 to 300 miles. Primarily that’s the International Space Station. We’ve got three vehicles that they’re working on for cargo. Two of them are operational already. Then we’re working on the two vehicles with Boeing and Space X for crewed transportation, getting us away from reliance on the Russians. The big focus outside of NASA, a lot of it is what they call the tourist industry. Those folks would take passengers up to space, but not for long.

What’s driving advances in your field and what are the big hurdles?
The big hurdle is the cost of getting things launched. A couple of companies are working on reusable launch vehicles. It’s the single use vehicle—you got to build a new one every time—that drives the cost. With Shuttle, it was a multiuse vehicle. But because of the nature of it’s design, it was almost as expensive. So finding a reusable way [to launch]. Both Blue Origin and Space X have working concepts to land their first stage rocket. They do the launch. They bring it back. They can actually fly it back and land it on landing legs, where you then refuel it and use it again. That will be the biggest single thing that will open up the market.

Why does exploring space matter?
The simple answer is, what if Columbus never had a desire to set sail for India? What if Lewis and Clark had never set out to see all the country of the Louisiana Purchase? What if those people had never done that? What would we have missed out on? We’re taking the human race into that next unknown. Will we ever colonize another planet? Maybe. [We’re taking] that next step. Asking, is it possible? Could we colonize another body—the moon, Mars, or anywhere else—if we needed to?

Dennis Davidson serves on the Board of Fellows advisory panel for the Norwich University College of Science and Mathematics.

Norwich University Office of Communications

September 14, 2016

Norwich University Computer Security Program Supports Cybersecurity at Super Bowl 50

Five Norwich CSIA students and their professor stand outside Levi Stadium, site of Super Bowl 50
Norwich University Office of Communications

February 5, 2015

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University computer security and information assurance (CSIA) program, with students operating both onsite in California and on campus, will support Santa Clara Police Department, the lead law enforcement agency at Super Bowl 50, and the law enforcement and homeland security functions leading up to and during this international sporting event.

Norwich University is the only educational institution invited to participate in support of the public safety team tasked with safeguarding Super Bowl 50. With support from its campus based Global Threat Observatory, Norwich cybersecurity students will participate in the Super Bowl 50 Critical Infrastructure & Cyber Protection Sub Committee. This committee is led by Detective Sergeant Ray Carreira ’96 of the Santa Clara Police Department, the lead law enforcement agency for the event.

Three Norwich CSIA majors and NU cyberczar Phil Susmann '81 speak on campus about Super Bowl 50Throughout 2015 CSIA students worked with this team in preparation for this globally televised event and formed partnerships with leading software developers to support their work.

Levi’s Stadium, home of Super Bowl 50, is the most technologically capable stadium in the world. In preparation, CSIA students attended Wrestlemania and a major soccer match for fact-finding and familiarization with the security environment.

Super Bowl 50 will be broadcast in over 180 countries in 25 languages and is expected to reach over 115 million households in the USA, making it the most viewed event in history.

“I have been so impressed by these Norwich students and their professionalism, their ability to solve complex problems and the ease with which they have integrated into this intense law enforcement environment,” said Captain Phil Cooke, Santa Clara Police Department Super Bowl 50 Commander.

The Norwich University cybersecurity program began in 1999.

Ranked #2 by the Ponemon Institute for cyber security in the U.S., Norwich University programs are consistently ranked among the best in the nation for cyber security education.  Norwich University is recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has received designation as a Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3). Beginning in 2002, Norwich University became a member of what is now called National Science Foundation’s Cyber Corps: Scholarship for Service program. Norwich is partnered with the United States Army Reserves (USAR) to develop cyber-education curricula that align with federal standards and cybersecurity needs.

“When I read about all the impressive work Norwich is doing with cyber, I took the opportunity to connect that expertise to a function for law enforcement of this major event,” Carreira said.

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Norwich University will celebrate its bicentennial in 2019. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Transformation” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu.    

Media Contact:
Daphne Larkin
Assistant Director of Communications
Office Tel: (802) 485-2886
Mobile: (802) 595-3613
dlarkin@norwich.edu

Norwich in the News: AP Story on GenCyber Summer Camp

A feature on free summer cyber camps sponsored by the NSF and NSA spotlights the GenCyber camp for high school juniors and seniors at Norwich this summer and quotes Prof. Peter Stephenson.
Norwich University Office of Communications

May 4, 2015

Wilson Ring of the Associated Press wrote about Norwich University’s free, week-long GenCyber summer cybersecurity camp for high school juniors and seniors in a May 2, 2015 article, “Summer Camps With a Mission: To Create Cybersecurity Experts”:

    “At Vermont’s Norwich University, 20 high school students will build computers they’ll be able to take home … And none of the children or their parents will have to pay a cent.”

Picked up by national and international media outlets, the wire service feature takes a broad look at a variety of National Security Agency and National Science Foundation-sponsored cybersecurity camps for tweens and teens being held across the country this summer. The article explains that the free day or overnight summer programs are part of a larger effort by the federal government to nurture an interest in cybersecurity among young people to better meet the country’s growing—and largely, unmet—need for a well-trained cybersecurity workforce.

Among other sources, Ring interviewed Norwich University professor and cyber expert Peter Stephenson, PhD, who teaches classes in network attack and defense, digital forensics, and cyber investigation:

    “The 20 high school students who will attend the Norwich University camp in Northfield, which is national recognized for its cybersecurity programs, will build their own computers, learn about attacking and defending networks, and hear from speakers, said Peter Stephenson, the director of the school’s Center for Advanced Computing and Digital Forensics.
    ‘Obviously, the government is hoping, especially the NSA, is hoping that they’ll be able to take advantage of some of these students as they progress, but there’s no requirement here that these students move on to government,’ Stephenson said.”

The AP story has been picked up by ABCNews.com, the Houston Chronicle, and the South Florida Times, among other outlets.

NSF Awards Norwich Grant for Free Teen Summer Cyber Camp

Norwich University Office of Communications

April 17, 2015

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Norwich University has received a grant for $55,675 from the National Science Foundation, with support from the National Security Agency, to lead a weeklong summer camp on cybersecurity for rising high school juniors and seniors. Dubbed GenCyber@NU, the comprehensive program is free to all participants and will be taught by standout Norwich faculty and alumni.

Students will dive into the fields of cyber security and cyber defense while building their own computers, which are theirs to take home at the end of the week. The pre-college program will be held June 21-27 and is designed for students interested in information security, digital forensics, cyberattack defense, and personal online protection.

All expenses for the week-long program, including tuition, room and board, field trips, program fees, and round-trip airfare and transportation to and from the Norwich University campus (as applicable), are covered at no cost to GenCyber@NU participants.

Applications are due May 1. Interested students should submit a letter of interest, a letter of recommendation, and an unofficial high school transcript via email to gencyber@norwich.edu. For more information, please visit: http://profschools.norwich.edu/business/gen-cyber-camp/.

About Norwich University Cyber Security Education

Ranked #2 by the Ponemon Institute for cyber security in the U.S., Norwich University programs are consistently ranked among the best in the nation for cyber security education.

Norwich University is recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has received designation as a Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3).

Beginning in 2002, Norwich University became a member of what is now called National Science Foundation’s Cyber Corps: Scholarship for Service program.

Norwich recently announced it has officially partnered with the United States Army Reserves (USAR) to develop cyber-education curricula that align with federal standards and cybersecurity needs.

About Norwich University

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Service” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu    

Media Contact
Daphne Larkin
Assistant Director of Communications
(802) 485-2886, (m) 595-3613
dlarkin@norwich.edu

Norwich University Hosts 8th Annual CSI Symposium April 28-29

Norwich University Office of Communications

April 13, 2015

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Norwich University will host its eighth annual CSI Symposium on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 28-29.

Speakers will include Arlington, Texas, police Sergeant Brook Rollins on “Drone Technology and Surveillance,” New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Lieutenant Rob Appleton ’92 on “Internet Crimes Against Children,” Martin Davin and Mike Perez on “Computer Tracking and LoJac for Laptops,” and Dr. Gary Margolis on “Threats in a Social Media World.”

Hosted by the Norwich University College of Liberal Arts and Board of Fellows, all events are free and open to the public and take place in Dole Auditorium.

Schedule of Events

Tuesday, April 28

    5-7 p.m.
    Brook Rollins (Arlington, TX PD) on “Drone Technology and Surveillance”

Wednesday, April 29

    9-9:50 a.m.
    Rob Appleton (Computer Crimes Unit, State of New York) on “Internet Crimes Against Children”
    10-10:50 a.m.
    Martin Davin and Mike Perez (formerly with NYPD, now with Absolute Software) on “Computer Tracking and LoJac for Laptops”
    11-11:50 a.m.
    Gary Margolis (Margolis Healy/Social Sentinel) on “Threats in a Social Media World”

For more information, please contact the event coordinators: Isabel Weinger Nielsen, inielsen@norwich.edu, 802.485.2455 or Professor Penny Shtull, pshtull@norwich.edu>, 802.485.2373.

About Norwich University

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Service” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu

Media Contact:
Daphne Larkin
Assistant Director of Communications
(802) 485-2886, (m) 595-3613
dlarkin@norwich.edu

8th Annual Norwich CSI Symposium Convenes April 28-29, 2015

By Isabel Weinger Nielsen | College of Liberal Arts

 
Updated April 13, 2015

The 8th Annual CSI Symposium will be held in Dole Auditorium on Tuesday, April 28 and Wednesday, April 29. Speakers will include

  • Sergeant Brook Rollins (Arlington, TX, PD) on “Drone Technology and Surveillance”
  • Lieutenant Rob Appleton ’92 (Computer Crimes Unit, State of New York) on “Internet Crimes Against Children”
  • Martin Davin and Miguel Perez (formerly with NYPD, now with Absolute Software) on “Computer Tracking and LoJac for Laptops” and
  • Gary Margolis (Margolis Healy/Social Sentinel) on “Threats in a Social Media World.”

Norwich University has hosted the CSI Symposium each spring since 2008, presenting a cross-disciplinary approach to crime scene investigation, case resolution, and crime prevention. The symposium aims to boost student interest in forensics, crime investigation, criminal justice, and related fields. Presentations are given on a variety of topics and demonstrate that law enforcement is supported by many professions, including law, information technology, engineering, science, and medicine. The event is co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and the Norwich University Board of Fellows.

Begun as a means of promoting a new forensic science course, the CSI Symposium is designed to appeal to both science and criminal justice majors. Over the years, it has been expanded to attract students from all disciplines. Keynote speakers have included Dr. Henry Lee on “Crime Scene Reconstruction,” detective inspector Anne Lawrence on “Investigation of the July 2005 London Bombings,” Sgt. detective Daniel Duff and Lt. detective Robert Merner on “Craigslist Killer,” Dr. Richard Ovens on “Forensic Interview and Education,” and detective Biff Brady and former assistant chief of police Joseph Loughlin on “Technology Used in the Amy St. Laurent Homicide Case.” Other notable speakers have included pathologist Dr. Michael Baden and forensic odontologist Dr. Lowell Levine.

Rob Appleton ’92, COLA Board of Fellows member, has been the driving force behind the event since its inception. An 18-year veteran of the New York State Police, Rob has invited experts from New York, New England, Toronto, and even New Scotland Yard (UK) to speak at Norwich. Alumni have also given presentations at the symposium, including FBI special agent Gary Hoover ’92, senior intelligence analyst Ken Bell M’13, and Chuck Nettleship ’85, M’03 of Triquetra Technologies and COLA Board of Fellows member.

The event is free and open to the public. Updates and the CSI Symposium schedule can be found at libarts.norwich.edu/csi-symposium/.

For more information, contact event coordinators Professor Penny Shtull at pshtull@norwich.edu or Isabel Weinger Nielsen,inielsen@norwich.edu.

Norwich Partners With (ISC)² to Bridge Cybersecurity Workforce Gap

New initiative supports cybersecurity students and professionals through education and certification
By Daphne Larkin | Office of Communications

January 21, 2015

NORTHFIELD, Vt.–Norwich University officials announced an agreement with (ISC)²®, the largest not-for-profit membership body of certified information and software security professionals with nearly 100,000 members worldwide, to become a new member of the (ISC)2 Global Academic Program (GAP).

Through the agreement, (ISC)2 will provide Norwich students and professionals with the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills, and industry certification they need to enter the high-demand, high-paying cybersecurity workforce. This collaborative initiative is an important part of the GAP’s aim to establish a joint framework for industry-academic cooperation to bridge the workforce gap between the increasing demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals and the amount of skilled professionals entering the industry.

Cyber Leadership

Instituted in 1999, Norwich University’s undergraduate computer security and information assurance program was among the first in 2001 to be designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency. Norwich was also among the first schools to carry the designation as a pilot university of the Center of Digital Forensic Academic Excellence (CDFAE) in order to establish industry standards for digital forensic education, making it one of the top cyber forensics programs in the nation. Norwich offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Security and Information Assurance (BSCSIA) with concentrations in cyber forensics and advanced information assurance. In February 2014, this program was rated the number two cyber security academic program in the United States by the Ponemon Institute, who surveyed nearly 2,000 certified information security professionals rating 403 colleges and universities throughout the United States.

“Recognized as the global leader in gold standard information security certification and education, (ISC)2 has developed and continually refined the (ISC)2 common body of knowledge (CBK®) over the last 25 years to reflect the evolving threat landscape and accepted standards of practice for this burgeoning industry,” said Dr. Jo Portillo, manager, Global Academic Program, (ISC)². “This agreement with Norwich University will allow us to advance our vision to inspire a safe and secure cyber world by incorporating our CBK directly into the global academic community.”

“It makes sense that Norwich, as one of the premier institutions teaching cybersecurity and forensics in the Nation, would team up with (ISC)², the global leader in certification to deliver both training and education, especially in the area of cyber forensics,” said Dr. Peter Stephenson, CCFP, CISSP, director of the University’s Center for Advanced Computing and Digital Forensics.

About Norwich University

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Service” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu

About (ISC)²

Formed in 1989, (ISC)² is the largest not-for-profit membership body of certified information and software security professionals worldwide, with more than 100,000 members in more than 160 countries. Globally recognized as the Gold Standard, (ISC)² issues the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and related concentrations, as well as the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP), the Certified Cyber Forensics Professional (CCFPSM), Certified Authorization Professional (CAP), HealthCare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (HCISPPSM), and Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) credentials to qualifying candidates. (ISC)²’s certifications are among the first information technology credentials to meet the stringent requirements of ISO/IEC Standard 17024, a global benchmark for assessing and certifying personnel. (ISC)² also offers education programs and services based on its CBK®, a compendium of information and software security topics. More information is available at www.isc2.org.

Mentors Connect Undergraduates to “Dream Jobs”

By Isabel Weinger Nielsen | College of Liberal Arts

December 5, 2014

“What are your three dream jobs?” That was the question asked of all senior College of Liberal Arts students this fall, and with the assistance of Duane Martin ’67, students are being paired up with Norwich alumni to help them attain those jobs. During last year’s pilot program, Norwich seniors were mentored by alumni employed by such organizations as the US Border Patrol, Vermont State Police, Secret Service, FBI, and Lockheed.

Martin, a member of the COLA Visiting Committee of the Board of Fellows (BoF), was looking for a way to contribute to the future success of Norwich students. He conceived of the idea of starting a mentoring program and presented it to the COLA BoF Visiting Committee and Dean Andrea Talentino, with enthusiastic results. Martin believes that all students can benefit from an alumni mentor, and feels it is important to help students find the jobs they want. Since the University has upwards of 24,000 living alumni (between its undergraduate and graduate programs) who work or have worked in just about every job Norwich students aspire to, he decided to start matching them up.

High-Caliber Students

The mentoring program began as a pilot last year, with a dozen students invited to become mentees. Martin used a personal approach, contacting prospective mentors directly by telephone to explain the program and determine their interests. His tactic worked: The alums Martin approached were incredibly enthusiastic, and went above and beyond Martin’s expectations. Not only did they talk to their mentees, but in many cases they came to campus to meet with them, and even brought students to shadow them in their workplaces. Martin has also been extremely impressed with the quality and caliber of the students. “They are incredibly respectful, bright, and really appreciate the opportunity to have an alumni mentor,” Martin says.

This year, eighteen students have requested mentors, and alumni have responded in a big way. Baylee Annis ’14 is living in Wales and wants to be a writer. She is now in contact with Bob Porier ’66, the author of several history books and numerous published articles. Seth Cecchett ’15 is a history major who aspires to work with the Vermont State Police. He has been paired with Michelle Leblanc ’92, a Vermont State Trooper in the K-9 Unit. Emily Cahill ’15, a Political Science major who hopes to work for Homeland Security, has been introduced to Scott Shelton ’97, a Senior Fellow with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and one of our newest Board of Fellows’ members. Jacob Alderman ’15, an English major with a minor in business administration, will explore a variety of employment opportunities with Robert McElhinney ’04, who works for the US State Department.

A Lifetime of Mentoring From Colin Powel Comes Full Circle

School of Nursing Director Sharon Richie, PhD, describes her long-running professional relationship with retired four-star Army general Colin Powell
By Sharon Richie, PhD | School of Nursing Director
College of Professional Schools

December 18, 2014

I first met Gen. Colin Powell in1980 when he was a major general and I a newly minted Army Nurse Corps major. I was at my first “ROCKS” meeting in Washington, DC, a support organization for field grade officers “of color” that had about 200 male members. At the time, I was the third woman selected to the group. At a reception following the meeting, Gen. Powell introduced himself, saying that I now had 200 brothers to look after me during my career and to call upon him at any time. Later, at our monthly meetings, he always checked on how I was doing, asking “So what is your next step?”

[pullquote cite=”Sharon Richie, PhD” type=”right”]The lessons learned from my general stood the test of time and were still being passed on to our next generation of leaders. I thank Gen. Powel today as much as I did in 1980.[/pullquote]

Over the years, Gen. Powell kept asking the same question and was thrilled when I decided to apply for the White House Fellows (WHF) program in1982. The non-partisan program is open to all, regardless of party affiliation. Gen. Powell had been a White House Fellow himself in1972 and valued his time and experience. Years after that assignment, Gen. Powell served as chief of staff for Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger. When my WHF class visited that office, my “ROCKS” brother—Gen. Powell—gave me an encouraging wink, which spoke volumes: I was not alone. We also saw each other every year at the “ROCKS” scholarship ball at Andrews Air Force base. I still treasure the photo taken in1989 of him, myself and my former husband Paul Patrick Henri.

Leadership Lessons

In 2009 I was honored to be included in Charles Garcia’s book Leadership Lessons of the White House Fellows (WHF). Garcia had interviewed over 220 WHF’s, and I was quoted along side Gen. Powell in Chapter 6, which was entitled, “Leaders have a Laser-Like Focus on their People”. Gen. Powell’s section included a story that exemplified “the sort of transformative impact that leadership can have.” My section gave examples of how I used those lessons as the chief nurse of various Army Medical Centers. The irony is that I learned my leadership lessons from my WHF mentor and from a general who kept up with a junior officer her entire career and beyond. I also was fortunate to be able to see Gen. Powell at the annual WHF seminars, which updated all WHF’s on the current administration’s work.

When selected for promotion to colonel, I asked then US Secretary of State Powell to do the honors. He said yes immediately but stipulated that the ceremony had to be held in Washington, given his schedule. I explained that I was funding all of my brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins to attend the ceremony and that I could not afford to house them in DC. At the time, I was a student at the Army War College in Carlise Barracks, Penn., where I could afford to rent out a local motel for all my relatives. Given that this might be my last promotion, Secretary Powell suggested a mutual friend, a general officer who would thoughtfully review my entire career for my family at the ceremony. I thought, how sensitive of him to suggest this, and he was right. My family finally found out what I had been doing all of those years on active duty.

After 26 years of active duty, I served three years in the United Arab Emirates helping to upgrade their military healthcare system. Upon my return, I interviewed active duty Army nurses, who had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Those interviews later turned into a book entitled Angel Walk: Nurses at War in Iraq and Afghanistan. My dream was to have the book endorsed by Gen. Powell. Instead, he called me to say what a fine book it was, but he was prohibited from endorsing any books because of the avalanche of requests it generated in his office. I shared that his “stated” endorsement, written or not, meant the world to me. Still his question was the same, “What will you do next?” I answered that I did not know, but he would be the first to know it when it came to me.

Norwich Nursing

My unexpected invitation to apply for the position as the Director of the School of Nursing at Norwich University was a long-shot given the weather (I was in Florida at the time) and my prejudices about academia. However, once I visited the campus, met the students, faculty members and senior administrators, I fell in love. It was a dream job to be able to be with my soldiers and nurses again. I held my breath waiting for the decision, and once it came, my first action was to text my general. He answered immediately, congratulating me and saying that clearly I had one more assignment before I really retired. “I am so very proud of you,” he wrote.

The past one-and-a-half years has been a whirlwind of getting oriented to my new job and getting my arms around my students and faculty members. It has been pure joy. I continuously share with others Mark Nepo’s quote, “Joy in what we do is not an added feature; it is a sign of deep health.” That quote sustains me now and led me to contact my general to ask him to share with our Norwich University community what service to others has meant to him as a leader. He did not disappoint.

[pullquote cite=”Sharon Richie, PhD” type=”right”]These words from one of my nursing students showed me that the lessons learned from my general stood the test of time and were still being passed on to our next generation of leaders.[/pullquote]

Amy Bidell is a senior nursing student here at Norwich and the president of the Student Nurses Association. A member of the Navy ROTC program, Amy was chosen to listen to two thought leaders, Gen. Sullivan and Gen. Powell, during the latter’s visit to campus in November 2014 in a private session with nine other cadets. Amy shared her thoughts with me about the session:

“General Powel and General Sullivan, both of whom sat at the table with us to speak, did not speak of current political or national security issues as I had imagined. Both gentlemen spoke primarily of family and the importance of having a solid support system at home throughout one’s career, whether it be a military career or not. General Powell told one story in particular in which he came home in his new uniform the day after receiving a new rank. The moment he proudly walked into the door with his new insignia, his daughter yelled to Mrs. Powell, “Mom, the GI Joe is home!”

“From both General Powell and General Sullivan I realized the importance of still having a ‘human’ element to one’s life, even if only behind closed doors. General Powell and General Sullivan are obviously both high-ranking prestigious military leaders. Yet based on their stories, it was apparent they both have an aspect of their lives that can be found in many American homes of any social class: a loving family with whom they have fun. This aspect of their life, while maybe small in comparison with the time-consuming nature of their careers, seemed to be the glue that held all other aspects of their life together and gave it meaning.”

These words from one of my nursing students showed me that the lessons learned from my general stood the test of time and were still being passed on to our next generation of leaders. I thank Gen. Powel today as much as I did in 1980. He is the epitome of leadership, service to country and balance with a strong family life.

Editor’s note: Visit the Todd Lecture Series website to watch Gen. Powell’s 2014 Veterans Day talk at Norwich University.

Financial Services Internship Helps Chart Future

Working at National Life Group “helped introduce me to the industry and provided some insight into what I could possibly do after college,” Ranson Hudson reports.
By Ranson Hudson ’15, Accounting & Business Management Major
School of Business & Management

 
October 22, 2014

This summer I interned with Equity Services Incorporated (ESI) the in-house broker/dealer and one of four companies that make up the National Life Group, a diversified insurance and financial services corporation based in Montpelier, Vt. Interning at ESI, I was introduced to all aspects of the business while shadowing staff in the various sections of the broker/dealer: new business, trading, brokerage and licensing. As the summer went on, I worked more closely with the new business unit as it deployed new technologies that ESI was incorporating to keep them ahead in the field.

National Life Group has a very developed internship program. While working with ESI, I also learned and worked with all the other National Life Group interns, joining weekly seminars where we covered the ins and outs of the company. The highlights of my summer experience were the people I worked with and the project assigned to me at the beginning of the internship. During the first week, interns were split up into groups of five or six and given a project to work on for the entire summer. Projects were designed to benefit the company as a whole. We were charged to present our results at the end of the summer in a contest to determine which group produced the best outcome.

The summer was a great experience. It helped introduce me to the industry and provided some insight into what I could possibly do after college. With a dual major in accounting and business management, it has been a real struggle for me to decide what path I want to take after college. This internship helped me start making decisions. I would recommend the National Life Group internship program to any college student who is thinking about a possible career in finance, accounting or business management.