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Leadership Conference

2023 Speakers

Conference Keynote Speakers
Mr. Milledge A. Hart III, USNA Class of 1956 and Mrs. Linda Hart Keynote Address

LT Brad Snyder, USN, Ret.
  Brad Snyder began his professional career as an Ensign in the US Navy, having graduated
from the US Naval Academy with a degree in Naval Architecture. Through his distinction
as the swim team captain during his final year, he earned an assignment as an Explosive
Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer. Brad deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi
Freedom in 2008, and deployed again two years later to Afghanistan in support of
Operation Enduring Freedom. After six months of assault operations, Brad was severely
injured by the explosion of a nearby improvised explosive device (IED). Brad sustained
complete vision loss as a result of the explosion, but did not suffer any other lasting wounds.
As a part of his rehabilitation process Brad returned to the pool, and after a few months of
training earned a spot on the US Paralympic National Team for swimming. At the 2012
Paralympics he competed in seven events, earning two Gold medals and one Silver medal.
His victory in the 400 meter freestyle occurred on the 7th of September, 2012, which
marked exactly one year from the day he suffered his vision loss. Brad medically retired
from Naval service in 2013, and three years later returned to the Paralympic Games, this
time in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brad competed in five events, earning three Gold medals,
one Silver medal, and broke a World Record that had stood for over thirty years. After Rio,
Brad switched sports to triathlon for a new challenge, and won gold for Team USA at the
Tokyo Games. He currently owns six gold medals, two silver medals and one world record.

Forrestal Lecture
Moderator: Mr. Alvin Townley
  Best-selling New York Times-reviewed author and Emmy-winning storyteller Alvin Townley has traveled globally to discover inspiring stories of leadership, legacy, and purpose. He has authored five nationally-acclaimed books, including Fly Navy and Defiant, and also helped produce the PBS film Jeremiah, which one four Emmys, including Best Documentary. He has been featured on CNN, FOX, and NPR, and has shared his message at venues including the White House and the U.S. Capitol. An Eagle Scout and NCAA athlete, Townley graduated from Washington & Lee University and studied in Frankfurt Brussels, Paris, and London before working in Congress and in the private sector. He is a founder of The SkillPointe Foundation and a former Senior Fellow at the USNA Stockdale Center for Ethical
Leadership at USNA.

RADM Bob Shumaker, USN, Ret.
  Bob Shumaker spent his early years in western Pennsylvania before attending the Naval Academy from which he graduated in 1956. He then became a fighter pilot flying the F8 Crusader. In February 1965 his plane was hit by AAA, he ejected, and was taken prisoner by the Vietnamese. During eight years of captivity as a POW he was credited with being a strong resistor, helping to develop the TAP code, naming the Hanoi Hilton, external communications, and being a member of the Alcatraz Eleven. Upon his release he earned a PhD, became a major program manager for weapons, superintended the Postgraduate School, and coordinated research at the Pentagon. He lives now in Fairfax, VA, enjoys flying the airplane he built, and living in the house he designed while in solitary confinement.
CAPT Charlie Plumb, USN, Ret.
   A farm kid from Kansas, Capt. Charlie Plumb graduated from the Naval Academy and won his Navy Wings of Gold 16 months later. He reported to NAS Miramar where flew the first adversarial flights for what would become the TOP GUN school. Plumb then joined VF-114 flying the F-4 Phantom. Code name “Plumber” he flew 74 successful missions over Vietnam and on his 75th, with just 5 days before the end of his cruise, Plumb was shot down, taken prisoner, tortured and spent the next 2,103 days in POW camps. There he distinguished himself as a pro in underground communications and served as chaplain of his prison unit for two years. After repatriation he continued to fly in the Naval Reserve squadrons and retired with the rank of Capt. after 31 years of Naval service. He has told his story to over 5,000 audiences in this country and around the world. Plumb owns two airplanes. He flies antique WWII aircraft and a fully aerobatic experimental plane. He and his wife have four children and four grandchildren.
CDR Everett Alvarez Jr., USN, Ret.
  Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr., was the first American aviator taken captive in Vietnam after being shot down near Hanoi. He became the second longest-held U.S. prisoner of war (POW) in U.S. history. Alvarez was a 26-year old Navy pilot based on the USS Constellation aircraft carrier in the South China Sea on August 5, 1964, as tensions were heightening in the area. He was part of a bombing mission over North Vietnam sent in retaliation after a reported North Vietnamese attack a day earlier on two U.S. destroyers. Alvarez’s Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was shot down in the immediate aftermath of what is known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident that marked the start of a significant escalation of U.S. military action in Vietnam. He endured eight years and seven months of brutal captivity by the North Vietnamese at the H.a Lò Prison, known by fellow POWs as the “Hanoi Hilton” where he was repeatedly beaten and tortured. He was released from captivity on February 12, 1973.
Margaret Chase Smith Foundation Keynote Address
Dr. Celeste Raver
    Dr. Celeste Raver, Stockdale Center Director of Influencer Development
Dr. Raver joined the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership as the Timothy and Susanne
Sullivan Director of Influencer Development in January 2022. Prior, she served as the Class
of 1967 Leadership Research Fellow in the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law at
the United States Naval Academy. In that role, she was the curriculum advisor to one of the
core leadership courses and performed extensive research. Her research focused on leader
and leadership development; resilience and grit in individuals, teams, and organizations;
and the dynamic nature of organizations. Dr. Raver Luning has published numerous
articles and book chapters on her research, and presented at national and international
conferences. She has also served as a faculty member at the University of Maryland Eastern
Shore, teaching courses in organizational theory. Prior to her academic career, she was part
of a team that built and ran a successful multi-location service business in Southern
California, in which she served as the Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Raver Luning obtained
her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore,
holds a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship from
Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of
Maryland Baltimore County.
USNA Class of 1938 Keynote Address
Mr. John Crowley
Mr. Crowley's involvement with biotechnology stems from the diagnosis of two of his
children with Pompe disease - a severe and often fatal neuromuscular disorder. His family
has been profiled numerous times on the front page of The Wall Street Journal and are the
subjects of Geeta Anand's Pulitzer prize-winning book The Cure and the major motion
picture Extraordinary Measures. After attending the Naval Academy he graduated from
Georgetown University with a B.S. in Foreign Service, and earned a J.D. from Notre
Dame Law and an M.B.A from the Harvard Business School. He served as an intelligence
officer in the USNR from 2005-2016 and is a veteran of the global war on terrorism. The
Crowley family was the recipient of the 2011 Family Exemplar Award from the University
of Notre Dame. John is the former National Chairman of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of
America and is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. Currently, he serves as a
member of multiple boards of directors, including Intellia Therapeutics, Entrada
Therapeutics, Cytel Corporation, and the United States Naval Academy Foundation. Mr.
Crowley has spoken before Congress as a patient advocate on the topics of biotechnology
medicines and the protection of patient safety and the state of pediatric rare diseases
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