What is your cultural background? Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. My home was on the city limit boundaries of Pascagoula and Moss Point. I had the best of both worlds: growing up in the quiet deep south and enjoying beach living with access to a wide variety of outdoor activities. I started school in a segregated all-Black Catholic elementary school that only integrated during my sixth-grade year. I have so many stories, good and bad, growing up in a state forced to come to grips with life in a very turbulent climate of social change.
How do you support NNSA?
As the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Secure Transportation, I lead NNSA’s largest office responsible for the safe and secure transport of government-owned special nuclear materials in the contiguous United States.
How did you become interested in the field you are in? How did you end up on this career path?
My desire to serve in the military was shaped by watching my family members who had served in all branches of the Armed Forces. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s, I grew up watching TV westerns and police shows that shaped my dream of being in law enforcement and helping people. During college at Grambling State University, I studied criminal justice and joined the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. After college, I joined the Air Force as a Security Police Officer in 1991. The rest is history. I served for 24 years in various roles and missions finally retiring in 2016 and joining the Office of Secure Transportation (OST).
What’s one of your favorite things about working at NNSA?
Being part of the mission to ensure the safety of our nation and working with people who are committed to carrying out this important national security task.
What are the characteristics of the best teams you have been part of?
Having led teams from small to large, I would say that the best teams consist of diverse individuals committed to a common cause, who value honor, integrity and excellence.
What advice would you give members of the Black community who want to do what you do for NNSA?
My faith is important to me, so prayer has guided me throughout my career. Striving for excellence and integrity has served me well. I would recommend learning from every experience and pursuing every available opportunity. Build relationships and respect people you encounter along the way. Develop your area of expertise by being a lifelong learner. Educate yourself by reading, watching, listening, and doing. Always remember that you are an integral and equal part of the history and experience of America
How will you celebrate Black History Month?
I live Black history every day of my life. I celebrate by remembering the contributions and struggles of my ancestors, as I work hard to be my best self. This year, my family attended the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship breakfast, we attended the Gospel Extravaganza at the Albuquerque African American Performing Arts Center where my daughter spoke on celebrating Black history. My wife volunteered on the New Mexico MLK Commission that organized the state’s celebration of MLK’s life and legacy.
What leader or cultural figure would you like to recognize this month?
There are so many famous and not-so-famous leaders/cultural figures to single out just one. But there’s one man in particular that shaped my life – his name was Ben Wiley. Mr. Wiley was the most powerful leader and cultural figure in my community. In the 1940’s, he served as a cook, only one of the few jobs allowed for Black sailors. After his service, he returned to Alabama to pay for his family sharecropper debts and he bought the land his family worked on, which was almost impossible in Alabama at that time. A devoted community servant, he fed the poor and kept the neighborhood clean. His community service was featured in our local newspaper. A devoted father and my grandfather, he taught me life’s most valuable lessons of love, integrity, excellence, and service. He’s one of the reasons I’m literally here today as OST’s Assistant Deputy Administrator.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My faith and family come first…. but it’s really in my name. I love to fish! Growing up on the Gulf Coast and serving in the military around the world, I’ve had the great opportunity to enjoy fishing in some very interesting places.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest personal accomplishment is being happily married to my wife, Lesia, and helping to raise our three amazing children: Vincent II, Erica, and Morgan. Professionally, my greatest accomplishment was serving honorably for 24 years in the United States Air Force and retiring in 2016 with fond memories of the men and women I served with around the world!