My Coast Guard
Commentary | June 8, 2022

The 2021 Wanda Allen-Yearout Ombudsman of the Year announced, district winners recognized 

By Keisha Reynolds, MyCG Writer

Ivonne Ontiveros-Lopez, a Coast Guard spouse, was presented with the 2021 Wanda Allen-Yearout Ombudsman of the Year award by Adm. Linda Fagan June 2 at the Senior Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. She was officially named the awardee in the 2021 Wanda Allen-Yearout Ombudsman of the Year Award Recipient alongside district winners who were also acknowledged. 

Ontiveros-Lopez has been the ombudsman for Coast Guard Cutter Midgett for four years. She and her spouse, Petty Officer 1st Class Donovan Butts, a damage controlman are stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii where her spouse is assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Midgett.  

“I am truly shocked and yet honored to have been selected for this award,” said Ontiveros-Lopez who is also a petty officer first class in the Coast Guard reserve. “It means so much to me and I never thought that I would be receiving this because I never did this work for the recognition. I truly hope that I can use this honor to promote and share the importance of our Coast Guard ombudsmen and this amazing program.” 

Among her list of achievements, Ontiveros-Lopez served as the primary communicator between the Coast Guard and their families when the Navy’s main potable water source near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was contaminated. The incident displaced 22 Coast Guard Cutter Midgett families from their homes just prior to the holidays. Ontiveros-Lopez also facilitated the flow of crucial information that enabled the command to focus on a patrol, which allowed the ship to sail on time to meet the demands of their mission in the 17th District.  

“Being a part of something greater than ourselves, and being able to pass our families the correct information and constant updates was so important!” said Ontiveros-Lopez. “Serving as a liaison and ensuring our spouse’s voices and concerns were being vocalized and addressed was such an honor—and our spouses were extremely resilient during this crisis,” she added. Ontiveros-Lopez was equally instrumental when Coast Guard Cutter Midgett faced a COVID-19 Omicron outbreak that put the entire crew into isolation in Kodiak, Alaska.  

Capt. Willie Carmichael, Coast Guard Cutter Midgett commanding officer , shared his appreciation of Ontiveros-Lopez. “Her unwavering support and communication of all major command decisions enabled prompt and decisive action that kept families informed, cared for the crew, and expedited the cutter’s return to operations.” 

The district-level recipients are:  

  • Alexandra Rockwell - Sector Field Office in Southwest Harbor, Maine 1st District 
  • Carmen Pulotu - Coast Guard Cutter Seneca, Portsmouth, Va., 5th District  
  • Carla Banducci - Coast Guard Air Station, Borinquen, Puerto Rico 7th District  
  • Patricia Lapointe and Kristen Bolsenga, Sector New Orleans, 8th District 
  • Amanda Hoover, Sector Sault Sainte Marie,Mich., 9th District 
  • Savannah Lee and Jaime Saladis, Coast Guard Cutter Munro, Alameda, Calif, 11th District 
  • Claire Thomas, Coast Guard Air Station Sitka, Alaska,17th District 

“I applaud all of the nominees for their accomplishments and their commanding officers for taking the time to submit well-deserved nominations,” said Rear Adm. Dana L. Thomas, director, Health, Safety and Work-Life. “The 2021 awardees demonstrated outstanding professionalism in carrying out their duties. Bravo Zulu for a job well done and I encourage all leaders to recognize their ombudsmen by submitting nominations next year for the 2022 Wanda Allen-Yearout Ombudsman of the Year Award.” 

You may review the criteria and submit nominations for next year through the Office of Health, Safety and Work-Life’s website.