National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA Defense Programs lets the dogs out in charity race

June 7, 2017

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The team from the Office of Decision Support was all smiles before the start of the race. From left: Claudia Miranda, Dr. Walter Cole, Dr. Dale Conwell, U.S. Navy Commander Edward Byers, and Perry Johnson.

NNSA team members work to solve some of the most challenging national security problems in the world at their day jobs – but their commitment to public service doesn’t end at close of business.

Five members of Defense Programs’ decision support team, which conducts 25-year planning, budgeting, and cost estimating for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, participated in the American Council of Life Insurers’ 36th Annual Capital Challenge May 17 at Anacostia Park in southeast Washington, D.C.

The three-mile race invites all branches of the U.S. government to participate in a lively team-building activity for a good cause. All entry fees were donated to the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation.

“The foundation gives the visually impaired a level of freedom and independence that most of us take for a granted,” said Dr. Walter Cole, the decision support team’s director of strategic planning and programming.

The leader of the decision support team, Dr. Dale Conwell, added, “I have personally seen the benefits that guide dogs provide to those who need them, including several of my friends,” said

The NNSA race team drew motivation to get active for charity from their own furry family members.

“As a dog lover, I know firsthand how valuable and lasting the companionship between an owner and their dog can be,” said Perry Johnson, a strategic communications program analyst.

U.S. Navy Commander Edwards Byers, a cat owner, cited the importance of giving back to others and team-building as his reasons for charity-racing.

“This kind of event, especially when supported by great leaders like Dale, brings our team closer together and demonstrates our commitment, as an organization, to building relationships with the communities in which we work,” said Byers.

Program analyst Claudia Miranda, who serves as a graphic designer for Defense Programs, appreciated the outdoor setting of the event and its inclusion of fitness.

“Participating as a team with people that are as competitive as my colleagues is just great!” said Miranda.

The team members share not just their vital national security mission work but also a love for running as a way to stay fit, enjoy the outdoors, and relieve stress.

“The important nature of public service is what makes it rewarding, but it can be stressful,” Conwell said. “Fitness is a great way to handle stress.”

The team placed 13th out of participating Federal organizations in the executive branch.