At Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington (RLSO NDW), we recently recognized two outstanding members of our JAG community – Lt. Becky Cohen and Legalman 1st Class Victoria Thompson – for their outstanding contributions to our professional development program. It may surprise you, though, that neither of them are a Professional Development Officer (PDO) or even assigned to the RLSO. They’re part of the legal team at the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and, for two years running now, they have helped coordinate and execute Information Warfare Community (IWC) Day.
IWC Day is a day-long offsite event at ONI designed to expose First Tour Judge Advocates (FTJAs) and others to the IWC and JAG community assignments supporting the IWC. A lot goes into making IWC Day happen, and it has been a huge success thanks to Cohen and Thompson’s tremendous efforts. For that, my commanding officer – Capt. Rock DeTolve – and I were elated to recognize them with an award and a Commander, Naval Legal Service Command flag letter of commendation. Professional development is an all-hands, collaborative effort. I am continually amazed (but not surprised) by contributions that folks outside of the RLSOs make to this line of effort.
Cohen and Thompson are just two of many examples. Capt. DeTolve recently said: “The professional development opportunities in our region are just remarkable. We have worked closely with other PDOs, and many outside that community, to avoid stove-piping and take a more collaborative approach to professional development.” Below are just a few other examples from the NDW area. Lt. Elizabeth Kiessling, Military Personnel (Code 61), spearheads a world-class professional development program for the Office of the Judge Advocate General (the variety and value of the events she coordinates are second-to-none!).
Each year, the various legal offices in the Pentagon host a “Round-Robin Day” where our junior officers, legalmen and civilians learn about those Pentagon offices, their work and constituents, and the diverse career paths of the judge advocates serving in them. The legal teams for the Chief of Naval Personnel and Vice Chief of Naval Operations allow us to rotate FTJAs in their offices as a part of their Command Services rotation, where they gain invaluable skills and mentorship. Also, our RLSO NDW and Defense Service Office-North commanding officers recently hosted a joint, offsite leadership luncheon. And, countless junior and senior judge advocates in the NDW area take time out of their busy schedules to attend quarterly meetup (and mentoring) breakfasts. We are extremely proud of Cohen and Thompson – and all of our partners in professional development – for their contributions, which are promoting a culture of learning and ensuring our practice remains relevant in an ever-changing field.