Commentary | Aug. 3, 2021

Nominate your colleague for the 2021 Charles E. Swaringen, Jr., Award for Outstanding Mentorship in Human Performance Technology 

By Janki Patel, MyCG Writer

Nominations for the 2021 Charles E. Swaringen, Jr. Award are being accepted now. Do you have a trusted mentor within the Human Performance Technology field who positively impacted you? Nominees can be active duty military, reserve, or civilian. 

The field of performance technology is characterized as looking for on-the-job performance deficiencies attributed to factors other than just a lack of skill and knowledge. The award was established in honor of the late Charles E. Swaringen, Jr., advisor to the commanding officer, Aviation Technical Training Center Elizabeth City, North Carollina, and is hosted by the Coast Guard Virtual Readiness Center. 

The Swaringen Award is given to the nominee who best exhibits the following traits:  

  • Selfless devotion to helping and encouraging others to grow professionally;  
  • The ability to teach and coach others in the application of performance technology tools; 
  • Promoter of innovative HPT and training interventions who encourages others to produce outstanding instructional products or performance interventions.  

“One goal for all leaders is ensuring their employees have the right tools and information to successfully accomplish their jobs,” said Chief Learning Officer of the Coast Guard, Dr. Gladys Brignoni. “The field of Human Performance Technology is dedicated to identifying the best tools, methods and new technologies to help our Coast Guard men and women remain mission ready. It’s always a pleasure to recognize someone who clearly excels at helping others to improve their performance.”  

In 2020, Martha G. Stewart from Training Center Yorktown was the recipient of the Swaringen Award. d“Stewart’s discipline in her craft, commitment to the growth of others, and total dedication to HPT across the training enterprise is truly inspirational,” said Deputy Chief Jay R. White, training officer at Training Center Yorktown and Stewart’s supervisor. “Stewart characterizes the spirit of this award through her personal commitment to the professional development and success of others, and as an unrivaled emissary for the tenets of HPT’s principles, practices, and methodologies.”  

Stewart found time to talk with MyCG, so we could share in her achievement and inspiration. 

Why do you enjoy your job? What makes you so passionate about training? 

The most enjoyable aspect of my job is the “forensic studies” my supervisor assigns me to apply HPT to performance issues that pop-up across the training division and TRACEN Yorktown. White gives me the current state, desired future state, and research questions, and then releases me to investigate and analyze the problems until I can propose solutions. I learn so much from these projects, largely because I get to interact with so many passionate fellow HPTers. 

Is there a specific role model who you looked up to or felt inspired by?  

I look up to and am inspired by Jay – my supervisor, teacher, advisor, counselor, mentor, coach, promoter, supporter, and confidant. Not surprisingly, he was the 2008 recipient of the Swaringen Award! He told me several times that the Swaringen Award was the Coast Guard award most worth winning, which makes this event so much more meaningful. 

How has your career in government contribute to your understanding of the world, and vice versa – to do good selflessly?  

I’ve had the pleasure of serving in DOD [Department of Defense] and DHS [Department of Homeland Security] for over 30 years as an active duty Army officer, Army contractor, and now Coast Guard civilian. I’ve been particularly impressed by the Coast Guard’s focus on HPT – which I had never heard of until I applied for this job – but I also love their mantras of “helping people” and “saving lives.” Jay told me once that the best way to elicit support in my new job would be to first state, “I need your help”… and it works every time. 

Can you tell us about an early experience that you feel shaped and influenced your career?  

An event that shaped my early Coast Guard civilian career – though painful at the time – was when I was a project officer and failed to gain consent on an initiative from two key stakeholders. I had learned from 20 years in the Army that “silence equals consent,” so although I didn’t hear back from them on my requests, I moved forward. After the initiative failed, Jay taught me that I had to work through silence to negotiate consent, not assume it. That was a valuable lesson that has served me well ever since. 

Guidelines on how to nominate: 

  • Nominees must be employed full-time by the U.S. Coast Guard and may be active-duty military, reserve, or civilian. 
  • The nominating individual must submit documentation of the nominee’s accomplishments and award-related testimonials from at least two other individuals. 
  • Personal testimonials are also a key piece of the Swaringen Award submission. 
  • Nominees must have made a significant impact on the professional growth in the area of HPT of more than one individual during the three calendar years preceding the award. 
  • Nomination packages must include a command cover memo, nominee name, nominee’s email address, nominating individual’s name, nominating individual’s email address, supporting documents, and whether the nominee is active-duty military, reserve, or civilian. 
  • Nomination deadline is by October 2021, noon EDT and packages must be forwarded as email attachments to Douglas Craft    

The specific award criteria, the award scoring checklist, and a list of previous award recipients are available at here.

The selection panel for this award will be representatives from each of the eight major training centers.