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Guard Takes Center Stage at Black Engineer of the Year Award Dinner

02-21-24 WR Award WEBSITE
02-21-24 WR Award WEBSITE
Washington Report

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics will be the foundations for solving both today’s and tomorrow’s problems, the National Guard’s top officer told an audience of students, cadets, corporate executives and military leaders on Feb. 16 in Baltimore.

Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the 29th chief of the National Guard Bureau, added the world is full of complicated problems, and the military needs smart, capable people who are driven to solve them.

"And, if you want to be part of solving the hardest problems — because, let’s face it, those are the only ones left — I wholeheartedly invite you to be part of our team," he said.

The Guard was the featured military organization of the 2024 Black Engineer of the Year Award STEM Stars and Stripes Dinner.

The annual BEYA conference — which celebrates the achievements of African American engineers — draws thousands of professionals, students and attendees interested in STEM during the three-day event.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told the group the military relies on and needs the best leaders and technical experts in the world, regardless of race.

"The international environment is now shaped by great power competition, a challenge we haven’t faced in decades," he said. "Our competition is motivated, well-resourced, strategic and committed to using technology to enhance their interests and their authoritarian values."

Kendall said the competition will not end any time soon.

"This year’s focus on the National Guard reminds us that these leaders may serve in the Guard, Reserve or active duty," he said. "The expertise and relationships our Guard and Reserve members bring from the private sector stimulate innovation and strengthen our nation."

Two such Guard leaders were among the service members recognized with the BEYA Stars and Stripes award: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Regina Carrell, a senior strategic intelligence analyst at NGB, and Sgt. Maj. Alan Thomas, an operations sergeant major in the Indiana Guard.

Hokanson introduced both Guardsmen, noting each is a pillar of influence in their communities.

"A champion of STEM education, Thomas helped establish the Department of Defense STARBASE at his armory and oversaw the training of more than 5,000 students during the pandemic while achieving a record-breaking graduation rate for warrant officers," Hokanson said.

STARBASE is a Defense Department educational program for students to participate in challenging STEM activities.

The Guard operates 58 of the 81 STARBASE locations worldwide. In 2022 alone, the STARBASE program educated almost 100,000 students at varied grade levels.

"This recognition goes beyond mere accolades," Thomas said. "It’s about affirming the value of inclusivity, equality and the strength that comes from a diverse service composition."

Carrell is a trailblazer in her own right. She is the first warrant officer selected to serve as intelligence briefer to the Army Guard director and the first warrant officer hired by the NGB J-2 Directorate.

She has volunteered for more than 50 youth programs as a keynote speaker, panelist, organizer and planner.

Hokanson noted Carrell's tireless work volunteering with the Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully program for high school girls and the Creative and Striving Hard to Succeed program with the National Association of Black Engineers.

Carrell also co-chartered Minority Achievements in Intelligence and National Security and serves on the alumni board at the National Intelligence University.

— By Sgt. 1st Class Zach Sheely, National Guard Bureau