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Margaret Chase Smith
Leadership Excellence Award

Lieutenant Colonel
Margaret Chase Smith
US Air Force Reserve

Phoebe Kotlikoff

Cadet Rachel Miller

Midshipman First Class
Kara Yingling

Cadet Heather Purkey

Captain Molly Ann Stanley

Captain Courtney O'Brien

With funding provided by the Margaret Chase Smith Foundation, the United States Naval Academy presents the Margaret Chase Smith Leadership Excellence Award annually to a female First Class Midshipman who has demonstrated conscience-driven leadership, dedicated service to the greater good, and personal independence and integrity, while displaying the highest standards of professionalism and personal conduct as an exemplary role model. Nominees must have no significant conduct or academic difficulties, and should demonstrate potential for an outstanding career of service upon graduation.

Established in 2010, the Margaret Chase Smith Leadership Excellence Award at the United States Military Academy recognizes the accomplishments of women in the field of leadership and ethics. Each regiment and brigade headquarters nominates an outstanding woman from its respective organization. A selection committee chooses the winner from a field of finalists.


2013-Midshipman Phoebe Kotlikoff

Midshipman Kotlikoff is a dedicated student as well as a leader. She is a Trident Scholar and did her research with the Quantitative Economics Department. She is a 2012 Truman Scholar winner from New York State, receiving a scholarship to Harvard. Phoebe is an early selection for the Navy Nuclear Submarine Program and is in the top one percent of her class. A member of the Academy’s top ranked, Division I women’s varsity rugby team, Kotlikoff is the 16th Company’s Commander and the founder of Sister to Sister Women’s Advocacy Group, a mentoring program for young girls in local public schools, as well as a participant in the Mids for Kids program where she assists elementary school teachers with lesson plans and mentors young students in the classroom. She is a dedicated individual who maintains high standards for herself as well as those under her leadership.

2013-Cadet Rachel Miller

Cadet Miller has demonstrated conscience-driven leadership, dedicated service to the greater good, personal independence and integrity, and a commitment to diversity and advancing women’s leadership. Miller serves as a Brigade Executive Officer, the third highest ranking cadet in the chain of command. She is the rowing captain of the Army women’s crew team and a scholar of the highest caliber. She has been on the Dean’s list every semester and has won three distinguished awards and two Superintendent’s awards. She organized cadet relief assistance to the Red Cross following Hurricane Sandy and was instrumental in founding a cadet-led program to prevent sexual assault and harassment within the Corps.

2012-Midshipman First Class Kara Yingling

Midshipman Yingling has served as captain of the Women’s Marathon Team and President of the Midshipman Action Group. She is a member of the Catholic Daughters of America, the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, the Joy Bright Hancock Group, and the Surface Navy Association. Within the 21st Company, she is a squad leader and provides counseling on academic, professional, and personal issues. Her squad did not have one single, moral, mental, or physical deficiency under her leadership. She is an inspiration to her peers, a credit to her country, and a most worthy recipient of an award named in honor of Margaret Chase Smith.

2012-Cadet Heather Purkey

Cadet Purkey is a top-tier student. She currently serves as a company commander. She is a leader on the Army judo team and placed in the top three of the Collegiate National Championships the last three years, winning the championship in 2011. She recently won the Women’s Wrestling Brigade Open for 2012. Her leadership skills are phenomenal. Purkey initiated and designed the Fallen Heroes Project to remind cadets of why they serve, to provide a forum to honor our fallen soldiers, and to give back to the families who have lost loved ones in the service of our nation. She will be graduating in May and going into the Military Intelligence Branch.

2009-1ST LT Kelly M. (Zahalka) Storrs

1st Lt Storrs served as a Regional Affairs Officer for the Peoples’ Republic of China, Marine Corps Information Operations Center. Lt Storrs was born on 11 August 1987 in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. She grew up in Richmond, Virginia and graduated from The Governor’s School for Government and International Studies in 2005. She reported to the United States Naval Academy following high school. While there, she spent half of her senior year studying in Beijing, traveling throughout China and Southeast Asia. She was named a Truman Scholar and a Marshall Scholar. A Naval Academy Athletic Association Hall of Fame swimmer, Storrs graduated in 2009 with a Bachelors of Science in History and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. She worked briefly at Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, on multinational engagements following graduation. In September 2009, Lt. Storrs moved to London, England, where she attended the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) on her Marshall Scholarship. She earned a Master of Arts in International Studies and Diplomacy from SOAS and a Master of Laws in Public International Law from the LSE. She is married to LT AJ Storrs, USN who currently resides in Stuttgart, Germany. They are expecting their first child in July 2012.

2008-LTJG Amanda (Burney) Ross

After graduation in May, 2008, Amanda worked a “temporary assigned duty” with the operations department at the Naval Academy until that fall. She was married in August 2008. In September 2008, she reported to Pensacola, Florida, for Aviation Preflight Indoctrination. Amanda completed API in the spring of 2009 and then was stationed at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, with the VT-28 Rangers for Primary Flight Training in the T-34C Turbo Mentor. In the spring of 2010, she started Advanced Flight Training for tailhook aircraft at NAS Kingsville, Texas, with the VT-22 Golden Eagles, where she was flying the T-45A and T-45C Goshawk trainer jet. She completed the “strike” syllabus there along with initial carrier qualifications and received her aviator’s wings in April 2011. Amanda was stationed at NAS Lemoore, California, with the VFA-122 Flying Eagles, where she’s learning to fly the F/A-18C Hornet. She should complete the “fleet replacement squadron” syllabus sometime this summer, at which point she will join a fleet squadron.

2006-CAPT. Molly A. (Mahoney) Stanley

Captain Molly Ann Stanley is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies (AFROTC) at California State University, Sacramento, Detachment 088. She currently instructs over 70 freshman and junior AFROTC cadets in addition to fulfilling the role of the Operations Flight Commander. As the Operations Flight Commander, she is responsible for training and carrying out the AFROTC mission of producing quality leaders for the Air Force. Detachment 088 is one of California’s largest AFROTC units with over 150 cadets. Captain Stanley’s effort in her role as Recruiting Flight Commander, prior to her role as Operations Flight Commander, has allowed the detachment to reach its highest cadet numbers in the unit’s 27-year history. Captain Stanley graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2006. Upon graduation, she was chosen for the inter-service commissioning program and selected a transfer to the United States Air Force. Some of her assignments include Management Analyst for the Manpower and Organization Flight, 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida. While serving in this role she was responsible for all manpower resource issues for the 1st Special Operations Wing Staff Agencies, the 1st Special Operations Mission Support Squadron, and the 1st Special Operations Comptroller Squadron, encompassing over 270 authorizations valued at over 10 million dollars. She also went on to serve as the Officer in Charge of Customer Support for the Military Personnel Section. Her duties included oversight to Identification Card production, Casualty Services, Retirement Benefits Briefings, and government passport applications. Additionally, Captain Stanley served as the Wing’s Alternate Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, where she was directly responsible for ensuring proper procedures and coordination among base agencies was complete for sexual assault cases. More recently, Captain Stanley served as the J1 Deputy Director for the Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component at Balad, Iraq, in support of operation ENDURING FREEDOM and operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

2004-CAPT. Courtney (Davidson) O’Brien, USMCR

Captain Courtney O’Brien is now married to classmate Capt. Michael O’Brien. USMC. Being a star Patriot League basketball player, Courtney has been able to use the skills she gained on and off the court at the Academy to be a leader as a Marine Aviator. After graduating in 2004, Courtney spent three years going through The Basic School and flight school, learning to be a KC-130J pilot. Last January, it had been three years since she was assigned to VMGR-352 at MCAS Miramar. She has spent time in Al Asad, Iraq, as well as Afghanistan.

2000-LCDR Erin (O’Marr) Acosta

Midshipman Erin O’Marr is now Lieutenant Commander Erin Acosta and married to David Acosta. Erin attended the Naval Postgraduate School where she majored in meteorology and minored in oceanography, graduating in 2008. Upon graduating from the Naval Academy in 2000, Erin became a Division Officer on the USS Decatur (DDG73). In 2007 Erin joined as both a Naval Officer and Associate Fellow of the CNO’s Strategic Studies Group where she currently remains as a leader to her colleagues.

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This page last modified: June 2013