News: Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific employee receives award from American Indian Science and Engineering Society
Story by Ashley Nekoui
SAN DIEGO - Linda Benson Kusumoto, business portfolio manager (BPM) for Business and Force Support at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific), received the Executive Excellence Award from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) at its National Conference held Nov. 3 in Anchorage, Alaska.
“I was truly honored to receive this award from AISES, especially in the great state of Alaska, where my tribe, the Tsimshian Nation, is located on Annette Island off the coast of Ketchikan in a town called Metlakatla, Alaska,” said Kusumoto. “I am proud to represent my tribe and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, and the information dominance, engineering, and scientific research experts of the United States Navy.”
Awardees must have made significant contributions to the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines to receive this award.
As the Business and Force Support BMP, Kusumoto manages a $60 million portfolio that supports human resources, strategic planning, medical, financial, force protection, logistics, supply management, and Homeland Security systems at SSC Pacific.
As part of her BMP duties, Kusumoto provides high-level strategic business development in support of traditional entrepreneurial efforts by identifying capabilities and integrated solutions from individual products, working with sub-portfolios and integrated product teams to identify areas for re-use to sponsors, and introduces innovations from products that can be developed for other purposes.
Kusumoto began her career in federal service at the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, working for the Division of Forestry and Natural Resources. The bureau sent Kusumoto to Portland State University where she studied computer programming.
Kusumoto notes that the computer programming courses swayed her from her initial interest in the arts as she was able to see how they attributed to real-world choices. In particular, they enabled her to assist with the calculation for timber allowable cuts and reforestation on recognized Indian tribal lands.
“I felt a close spiritual bond when working with the various Indian Tribes and the natural resources of the forest and timber across the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Northern California.”
She continued her studies in technology, focusing first on computer programming, then on mainframes, networks, and personal computers, eventually leaving federal service to work in private industry.
Kusumoto joined SSC Pacific in 2009, working within the Information Technology Management Competency before transitioning into the BPM role.
“I’ve worked in the field of information technology for the past 33 years. Having this wealth of experience, I really wanted the opportunity to take that and expand on it as a BPM," says Kusumoto. “I’m able to incorporate industry best practice history and views to help advance the related areas of enterprise information systems, Navy Enterprise Data Center management, global business application management, knowledge management, data warehousing, and business intelligence analysis capabilities.”
While at SSC Pacific, Kusumoto became involved in the SSC Pacific’s diversity initiative, sharing her heritage with personnel and working to expand opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native employees at the command while also making the external community aware of opportunities with the Department of Defense.
“There are many intelligent, driven, creative, American Indian and Alaska Native students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). STEM students are our way ahead; they are the bright minds of the future and we can only begin to guess what new and exciting inventions they will create.”
When Kusumoto was growing up and going into STEM there wasn’t a lot of encouragement, especially for Native American women and girls. A lot has changed since then and she says she wants make things even better for today’s students.
“I look forward to working with the AISES team over the next year, representing Executive Excellence and supporting the organizations mentoring efforts. AISES is a large organization with over 55,000 students, 177 chartered college and university chapters, 13 professional chapters, 3,000 members, and more than 200 represented tribes across the United States,” says Kusumoto. “These smart students can help us, they will bring new ideas and perspectives to ensure that we continue to provide a high-level of service and products to our warfighters, the dedicated men and women who serve our great nation, and sacrifice for us each and every day.”
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