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    Virtual ceremonies allow NUWC Division Newport community to celebrate employee achievements safely

    Virtual ceremonies allow NUWC Division Newport community to celebrate employee achievements safely

    Photo By David Stoehr | Kelly J. Ross (second from left), who retired on Dec. 31, 2020, as head of the Naval...... read more read more

    NEWPORT, RI, UNITED STATES

    02.11.2021

    Story by Public Affairs Office 

    Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport

    NEWPORT, R.I. — When Kelly Ross first arrived at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport in 1987 as a nascent college graduate, she had committed to working as a combat systems engineer for a year. She never anticipated staying more than three decades, leading five different organizations across the command, and retiring during a global pandemic.

    Though her individual experience is unique, Ross is among quite a few Division Newport employees who retired in 2020 and were unable to celebrate their accomplishments in person. Instead, the end of her 33-year career was celebrated virtually through a Microsoft Teams call projected from a conference room to Ross’ house and shared with almost 80 people across the country.

    “I would have liked to have been able to do an in-person ceremony. I had five work families, having worked in five departments. So the great thing about the virtual ceremony is that I could have all those people participate,” Ross said. “I was able to invite people from across the Division. Then they did exactly what they would have done in person, just virtually.”

    A conference room screen allowed everyone to see what was happening, with Technical Director Ron Vien, Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings and others offering accolades and well wishes. Hennings read a brief bio of Ross’ career accomplishments and presented her with a retirement certificate that was later sent to her in the mail. Ross shared her thanks to the command as she was surrounded by her family gathered in her living room.

    Ross’ supervisor, Stephen Lamb, head, Contracts Department, presented her with the John T. Hamilton Award for her profound impact on the successful trajectory of the entire Contracts Department during her six years as technical acquisition lead.

    “I think it’s great that we gave her the opportunity to have a retirement ceremony,” Lamb said. “It was the first virtual one, so the command had to figure out how to shape it to suit her. It was a good opportunity to be able to read her the award citation, with Mr. Vien and her family present. I have been to in-person retirement ceremonies prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but the virtual ceremony has the potential to allow employees to share the moment with more people than they typically would.”

    Fewer in-person ceremonies were held in 2020 because of social distancing requirements said Jeff Prater, director of Corporate Communications, who assists in facilitating the ceremonies with leadership. While ceremonies were recorded since 2019, adding phone lines and video services allowed more people to participate and gave those retiring more choices to be recognized.

    “If anyone retiring would like in-person recognition with the commanding officer and technical director, we can do that. If they would like to remain in the comfort of their home and conduct the ceremony virtually, we can do that too,” Prater said. “While we have many in the workforce at home teleworking, we need to figure out how to stay connected. I think it is crucial we continue to offer virtual ceremonies while under maximum telework status and share these experiences with each other.”

    The Public Affairs Office is also posting pictures of the virtual ceremonies and honoring retirees on both the Command Facebook page and LinkedIn page.

    “Our retirements and award ceremonies are extremely important events and we need to make them as good as they can be. If one of our employees commits their life’s work to the service of our nation, the Navy and Division Newport, sometimes 30, 40 or more than 50 years, then we need to honor such a significant achievement and celebrate it,” Prater said. “That celebration can come in any form the recipient wishes. So in that respect, the virtual ceremonies are not much different from the in-person ceremonies.”

    Ross’ co-worker, John de Ciutiis, a Contracts Department program certification manager, participated in her ceremony and talked about her strong influence and professional impact on him during their four years of working together.

    “For the vast majority of people who retire, it’s very important for their colleagues and friends to wish them well. It’s also important for people like me to tell the person how much impact they have had,” de Ciutiis said. “Not everyone is comfortable telling someone that during the course of their career, and allowing that process is important for both sides, for people retiring as well as the person who is continuing in their career.”

    Such important milestones deserve to be recognized, and Ross was grateful for the opportunity to do so in a virtual environment, and to reflect on her 33 years of service with friends and family by her side.

    “It was a very lonely solitary exercise to retire during the pandemic, with no one stopping by and sharing coffee and stories, and no one helping with boxes,” Ross said. “So it was nice to at least have something where there was recognition and other people involved. I know my family appreciated it. The best part was that my sons heard a variety of people recognize me not only for my work abilities but more importantly for my kindness and desire to help others.”

    Retirees wishing to have a virtual ceremony should make such a request when submitting paperwork to the Human Resources Office.

    NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

    NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.11.2021
    Date Posted: 02.11.2021 14:41
    Story ID: 388904
    Location: NEWPORT, RI, US 
    Hometown: PORTSMOUTH, RI, US

    Web Views: 26
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN