On November 15, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced the 2022 Presidential Rank Awards. Six National Nuclear Security Administration executives were selected to receive one of the most prestigious awards in the federal career civil service.
Kasia Mendelsohn and Karen Henneberger were awarded the Distinguished Executive PRA. Ms. Mendelsohn, Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, joined NNSA in 1999 and previously served as the Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for DNN, Policy Director for DNN, and the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Nonproliferation and Arms Control. In her current position she overseas DNN’s work to bolster arms control and enhance treaty verification.
Ms. Henneberger, Senior Executive for New Ship Design in the Office of Naval Reactors, has served DOE for three decades. Since 2010, she has directed the efforts of over 3,000 engineers, scientists, and designers overseeing construction activities for the first four Ford-class aircraft carriers.
Four other NNSA executives were awarded the Meritorious Executive PRA, including:
- Stephen Fisher, who has served in the Office of Naval Reactors for over 18 years, starting in 2004 as an engineer. He is currently Director of the Instrumentation and Controls Division in the Office of Naval Reactors, leading the team responsible for the instrumentation, control, and power generation hardware and software on all U.S. submarine and aircraft carrier nuclear propulsion plants.
- Teresa M. Robbins, who has over 30 years of experience in nuclear facility operations, engineering, safety analysis, maintenance, and risk analysis within the DOE Complex. She currently serves as Manager for the NNSA Production Office, responsible for the direction of NNSA programs, projects, safety, security, quality, and administrative functions and activities at the Pantex Plant and the Y-12 National Security Complex.
- Edward F. Watkins, Ph.D., Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development. In this position, Dr. Watkins oversees efforts to advance U.S. technical capabilities to detect foreign nuclear weapons development activities, nuclear detonations globally, and the illicit movement of special nuclear material.
- Doug Fremont, who retired from the federal government in August after over four decades of service to his country, much of it associated with submarines and nuclear weapons. Among his numerous positions were Commanding Officer of the USS West Virginia, Chief of Staff of DNN, and Chief and Associate Administrator for NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Security. His final position was as NNSA’s Chief of Staff.
“Recipients of this award are leaders with demonstrated records of strength, integrity, industry, and relentless commitment to excellence in public service,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said, adding that all DOE and NNSA recipients “are highly deserving of this prestigious award and recognition.”
The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 established the Presidential Rank Awards Program to recognize a select group of career members of senior leaders for exceptional performance over an extended period of time. Chosen by President Joseph Biden, the 2022 PRAs recognize the hard work and vital contributions of dedicated civil servants in the U.S. federal workforce. The six NNSA awardees are among 233 winners selected from 33 federal agencies for their exceptional leadership, accomplishments, and service over an extended period of time.
OPM Director Kiran Ahuja stated that “This year’s Presidential Rank Awards reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for hardworking civil servants who exemplify strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to public service through their exceptional leadership, contributions, and accomplishments.”