McDonald earns Navy’s top civilian award for ONRG detail

McDonald earns Navy’s top civilian award for ONRG detailPictured: Harlan Kooima presents Kelly McDonald with a Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award. — U.S. Navy photo by Paul Kakert



NAWCWD Public Affairs

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Employee Kelly McDonald was recently honored with a Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the Office of Naval Research Global for her work accomplishments while on a one-year detail as an international program officer at ONRG in Arlington, Va.

McDonald, who currently works as the deputy for security assistance and interagency liaison for the Digital Precision Strike Suite team, has more than 30 years of government service and has been working in NAWCWD international programs since 2000. She was assigned to ONRG’s Naval Science and Technology Cooperation Program, whose overall mission is to develop and advance critical Navy military-to-military international science and technology partnerships. This job required extensive engagement with foreign defense organizations to help identify and develop projects and collaboration opportunities that would help solve naval capability gaps.

“One of the unique aspects of ONRG’s model is that only a third of their positions are permanent core billets, while the others are new details that are rotated for one- to three-year assignments,” McDonald said. “This is the reason they focus heavily on recruiting journey-level employees who adapt quickly and learn in a fast-paced environment.”

During her rotation, McDonald worked with counterparts from Israel, Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom, planning and running numerous technical workshops, meetings and demonstrations. She was instrumental in facilitating one of the first Navy informational meetings with Brazil and helped initiate the first Navy science and technology engagement with Israel.

“The goal with ONRG is to have a cognitively diverse group, meaning people who think differently to find ways to quickly push technology out to the warfighter,” said McDonald.

Howard McCauley, deputy technical director for the NAWCWD Research and Engineering Department, helped organize McDonald’s detail assignment. McCauley is the ONR engagement facilitator and the coordinator for NAWCWD’s Naval Scientist Technical Exchange Program.

“Although every detail assignment is a little different, the overall benefit to the command is two-fold,” said McCauley.

“We use it as a leadership development tool for the journey-level employees who have self-identified as future leaders in the organization, and providing those embedded employees further strengthens our relationships with the various stakeholders.”

Through the immersion experience, employees become familiar with the organizational culture, drumbeat and structure.

“Upon returning from rotation, our employees understand the purpose behind certain requests and the urgency from some of our stakeholders. This allows them to educate our command and provide transparency so we can be more proactive, which is critical.”

McDonald recommends that employees seek out these types of opportunities to see the inner workings of Washington, D.C., and get the broader perspective of the government and the Department of Defense.

“I received valuable insight into other Navy domains and the larger global picture,” she said.

ONR headquarters, located in Arlington, controls the majority of Navy investments in basic research, applied research and advanced technical development.

ONRG is the international portion of the command and dates back to 1946.

Story First Published: 2017-12-22