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Leadership Conference

2021 Speakers

Keynote Speakers

CAPT Charlie Plumb, USN (Ret.)
LT Jonny Kim, USN
LtCol Jannell MacAulay, USAF (Ret.)
Mr. Dave Castro


Panel One: Embracing Cultural Diversity

MIDN 2/C Andie Martinez, USN - Moderator
Ms. Ryan Manion
Mr. Mike Smith
Coach Yancy McKnight


Panel Two: Culture in High-Performing Environments

LtCol Jannell MacAulay, USAF (Ret.) - Moderator
CDR Jon Macaskill, USN (Ret.)
Ms. Courtney Thompson
Ms. Tanji Johnson


Panel Three: Who Own and Leads the Culture of a Unit?

MIDN 1/C Dino Zaharakis, USN - Moderator
SgtMaj Juan "Carlos" Alvarado, USMC (Ret.)
FORCM Steven Bosco, USN
HTCS Bill Sisk, USN


 Forrestal Lecture

ADM Michael G. Mullen, USN (Ret.) 


Closing Speaker

Mr. Dave Castro



plumb.JPG Keynote Speaker 1:  Mr. Milledge A. Hart III, USNA Class of 1956 and Mrs. Linda Hart Keynote Address 

CAPT Charlie Plumb, USN (Ret.)  [0935-1025] 

A native of Indiana, CAPT Charlie Plumb always dreamed of flying planes.  The Navy offered him an opportunity to see the world and to fulfill his dream of flying.  He graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis and went on to graduate from Top Gun, one of the Navy’s most prestigious accomplishments for a fighter pilot. CAPT Plumb flew the F-4 Phantom jet on 74 successful combat missions over Vietnam. On his 75th mission, with only five days before he was to return home, CAPT Plumb was shot down over Hanoi, Vietnam and was captured. CAPT Plumb spent the next 2,103 days in an 8-by-8 cell as a Prisoner of War where he was tortured and starved. During his nearly 6 years of captivity, CAPT Plumb distinguished himself among his fellow prisoners as a professional in underground communications and served for 2 of those years as the chaplain in his camp, providing comfort and hope to fellow prisoners. After being rescued and returning home, CAPT Plumb continued his Naval Service before retiring after 31 years of flying. After retirement, CAPT Plumb brought his own personal experiences from being a Prisoner of War and an officer in the Navy to everyday life. He has since worked as a business consultant and is most well known for being a motivational speaker. Since his return home, more than 5,000 audiences in nearly every industry have been spellbound as CAPT Charlie Plumb shares his story and the lessons he learned from it, while teaching people how to apply these lessons to any leadership role.


LT Jonny Kim, USN Keynote Speaker 2 :

LT Jonny Kim, USN; Astronaut, National Aeronautics and Space Agency  [1045-1135] 

LT Jonny Kim was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. He reported for duty in August 2017 and having completed the initial astronaut candidate training is now eligible for a mission assignment. A U.S. Navy SEAL, Kim completed more than 100 combat operations and is the recipient of the Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat “V”. Kim was commissioned as a naval officer through an enlisted-to-officer program and earned his degree in mathematics at the University of San Diego and a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Due to NASA’s COVID policy, this Keynote will be livestreamed in Mahan Hall with midshipmen in person, similar to the Secretary Mattis Forrestal lecture.


Panel 1: Organizational Culture: Constantly Adapting [1300-1400] 

Ms. Ryan Manion Ms. Ryan Manion; President, Travis Manion Foundation

Ms. Ryan Manion is the president of The Travis Manion Foundation - one of the nation’s leading veteran service organizations named in honor of her brother: 1st Lieutenant Travis Manion, USNA Class of 2004. She works to empower veterans and families of fallen heroes to inspire future generations to embrace the foundation’s “If not me, then who?” mantra. Using military families as a guide, Ms. Manion provides ways to create a coherent, service driven team culture. In addition to her work with the foundation, Ms. Manion co-authored The Knock at the Door and hosts The Resilient Life Podcast to support and empower others to “ Honor the fallen by challenging the living.”  She has garnered a number of awards and honors for her work, including being named a member of the 2018 Bush Institute Inaugural Stand to Class, a 2017 honorary graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and winner of the 2015 President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service. She has also been honored with the 2014 Joseph D. Helton, Jr. Award for Leadership; the 2013 Hillier (Ignite) Warrior for Warriors Award; and the 2011 Commodore John Barry Distinguished Citizen Award.

Mr. Mike Smith Mr. Mike Smith; Founder, The Bay and Skate for Change; Co-Founder, Rabble Mill and Find Your Grind

Mr. Mike Smith serves as the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of the non-profit cohort, Rabble Mill, and the Founder of its program divisions, The Bay and Skate for Change. He is also the creator and host of The Harbor by Jostens, a character development video series viewed by over 10 million students and educators around the globe, and a Co-Founder of the revolutionary career education platform, Find Your Grind. The Bay, based in Lincoln, Nebraska, is known as “a home for misfits,” and focuses on providing economically and culturally disadvantaged youth with a safe place to go, surrounded by those who care, and a place to dream big. Mr. Smith and the programs he has built provide others with the opportunities, tools, and skills they need to be successful in life and give back to their own communities. As he reminds us based on his tenets from Skate for Change: everyone has value and leadership is action. Mr. Smith and the culture he creates with his programs are changing lives daily.

Coach Yancy McKnight Coach Yancy McKnight; Former Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, University of Texas

Coach Yancy McKnight has been a director of football sports performance for 17 years and specialized in the field of strength and conditioning for 25 years. He is currently a consultant for Performance Course, a sports performance training center in Allen, TX. As the former head strength and conditioning coach for the University of Texas Football Team, he mentored and trained numerous athletes to go on to play in the NFL. In the first offseason under Coach McKnight, the Longhorns lost 525 pounds of body fat while gaining 385 pounds of lean muscle mass. Before his time at UT, he worked at the University of Houston after serving the previous 6 seasons as Director of strength and conditioning at Iowa State. Coach McKnight is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), a certified strength and conditioning coach (SCCC), and a USA Weightlifting Level I certified coach.


mullen.jpgForrestal Lecture Series :

ADM Michael G. Mullen, USN (Ret.); 17th Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, 28th Chief of Naval Operations & USNA Distinguished Graduate [1900-2000]

Admiral Mullen was sworn in as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1, 2007. Until his retirement, he served as the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council. A native of Los Angeles, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968. He commanded three ships: the gasoline tanker USS Noxubee (AOG 56), the guided missile destroyer USS Goldsborough (DDG 20), and the guided missile cruiser USS Yorktown (CG 48). As a Flag Officer, Admiral Mullen commanded Cruiser-Destroyer Group 2, the George Washington Battle Group, and the U.S. 2nd Fleet/NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic. Ashore he has served in leadership positions at the Naval Academy, in the Navy's Bureau of Personnel, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Navy Staff. He was the 32nd Vice Chief of Naval Operations from August 2003 to October 2004. His last operational assignment was as Commander, NATO Joint Force Command Naples/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe. Admiral Mullen is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School and earned a Master of Science degree in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School. Prior to becoming Chairman, Admiral Mullen served as the 28th Chief of Naval Operations.



macauley.JPG Keynote Speaker 3 : Margaret Chase Smith Foundation Keynote Address

LtCol Jannell MacAulay, USAF (Ret.); Co-Founder, Warrior’s Edge  [0920-1010]

Lt Col Jannell MacAulay is a combat veteran, TEDx speaker, and mother of two on a mission to help individuals excel in high stress environments. She served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot, commander, special operations consultant, international diplomat, and professionalism instructor. She currently serves as a Leadership and Human Performance consultant within both  government and corporate sectors. Drawing on more than 3,000 hours of flying experience in the C-21, C-130 and KC-10 as well decades spent leading teams and implementing complex organizational change, she teaches people how to optimize the human weapon system. Lt Col MacAulay was the first leader to introduce mindfulness as a proactive performance strategy for the U.S. military. She also developed and co-founded Warrior’s Edge, a high-performance mindset training program, with Seattle Seahawks coach, Pete Carroll, and high-performance sports psychologist, Dr. Michael Gervais. Lt Col MacAulay is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, earned a Masters Degree in Kinesiology from Pennsylvania State University, and holds a Ph.D. in philosophy with an emphasis on strategic health and human performance from Air University. Dr. MacAulay is also a certified wellness educator, yoga instructor, and plant-based nutritionist.


Panel 2: Culture in High-Performing Environments [1015-1115]

CDR Macaskill, USN CDR Jon Macaskill, USN (Ret.); Owner, Macaskill Consulting

CDR Jon Macaskill, MMT, is a mindfulness and meditation teacher who uses what he learned in his 24 years as a Navy SEAL to teach and mentor others. After serving as an enlisted sailor, CDR Macaskill received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy and commissioned as an U.S. Navy SEAL. CDR Macaskill has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, off the coast of Somalia, and Panama. He currently runs his own consulting business that brings mindfulness and meditation to high performing teams in order to aid in dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.  This helps groups increase focus, creativity, and productivity. CDR Macaskill also served as the Deputy Executive Director for Veteran’s PATH, a non-profit organization that works to introduce meditation and mindfulness to veterans to bring them a sense of peace, acceptance, transformation, and honor.

Ms. Courtney Thompson Ms. Courtney Thompson; Olympian, Team USA

Ms. Courtney Thompson is a remarkable setter with Olympic and World Championship medals including a 2016 Olympic games bronze medal and a 2012 Olympic games silver medal.  She played Division 1 volleyball at University of Washington and led the team to a D1 volleyball championship as a captain. She was the first female player at University of Washington to have her collegiate jersey retired and set the Pac-10 record for career assists with 6,552, which was third-best in NCAA history. Ms. Thompson went on to help the U.S. Women’s team capture the 2012 FIVB World Grand Prix gold medal and even has her own documentary called "Court & Spark: A Volleyball Documentary". Ms. Thompson worked with Dr. Michael Gervais, a Mindset Coach, during her time as a competitive athlete. She currently works for Compete to Create, a coaching and training firm co-founded by Dr. Gervais, as a Mindset Coach who relates critical experiences from her olympic career to professionals all over the country.

Ms. Tanji Johnson Ms. Tanji Johnson; Champion, International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness

Ms. Tanji Johnson graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1997. After she was commissioned, she served as a minority enrollment officer to the Academy and later became an aircraft maintenance officer for the KC 135s at Fairchild Air Force Base. Upon leaving the Air Force, she earned her professional status as a top fitness competitor, earning 11 professional titles as an IFBB Fitness professional. Ms. Johnson competed professionally for 18 years in 54 competitions and became the Pacific Northwest’s most decorated IFBB Pro including winning four Arnold Classic titles. Additionally, Ms. Johnson starred as “Stealth” on NBC’s American Gladiators in 2009.  In addition to competing,  she promotes the NPC Tanji Johnson Classic and serves as an NPC and IFBB Pro Judge. Today, she continues to coach athletes and works with her husband at Bridgman Health Solutions which is a functional medicine and chiropractic clinic.


Panel 3: Who Owns and Leads the Culture of a Unit?   [1310-1410]

alvarado.jpgSgtMaj Juan "Carlos" Alvarado, USMC (Ret.); Program Manager, Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR)

Sergeant Major Alvarado enlisted in the Marine Corps in May of 1989 and completed recruit training at MCRD San Diego, CA. Upon completion of recruit training, he attended the Motor Transport Operators course in Camp Johnson, NC as the initial training at the Marine Corps Motor Transport School. Upon graduation he received orders to 3rd Tank Battalion in 29 Palms, CA. While in this duty assignment, he deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. His next assignment was with 1st Tank Battalion, during this assignment he deployed to Somalia, Africa in support of Operation Restore Hope with Task Force Mogadishu. In May 1993, upon completion of his first enlistment, he was transferred to 8th & I Marine Barracks, Washington D.C. and served as a Motor Transport Section Chief. In May 1995, while stationed at 8th & I, he was selected as a member of the security detail in support of the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps. In July 1999, he received orders to attend the Marine Security Guard (MSG) School as a Detachment Commander. Upon graduation, his first assignment was to serve at the MSG Detachment Brasilia, Brazil. After successfully completing his first assignment, he was meritoriously promoted to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant and received orders to MSG Detachment Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In September 2002, after completing his three-year tour in MSG duty, he was transferred to the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) in Camp Lejeune, NC. During this assignment, he deployed to Djibouti, Africa- Horn of Africa and the Middle East as the Staff Noncommissioned Officer (SNCO) in charge of the Protective Security Detail for the Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force (HOA). Upon his return, he was briefly assigned to the Special Operations Training Group (SOTG) II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) and was deployed to Colombia, South America. In Feb 2005, upon his selection to First Sergeant, he received orders and reported for duty to the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, Region 6, Pretoria, South Africa. In this capacity he served as a Regional Senior Enlisted Advisor (SEA) in support of Marine Security Detachments whose mission is to protect U.S. Embassies in 14 countries within the Sub-Saharan, southern Africa region. In May 2008, he received orders to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Company G, Camp Lejeune, NC. In Dec 2008, he was selected to the rank of Sergeant Major and assumed his post as the Battalion SgtMaj for the 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment. In this capacity, he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). In October 2011, SgtMaj Alvarado received orders to the School of Infantry (SOI), Infantry Training Battalion East. In March 2013, he was selected to serve as the Regimental Sergeant Major, 6th Marine Regiment. In Aug 2014, he assumed his post as the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MCESG formerly MSG BN) Sergeant Major. Following a successful tour with MCESG, he retired in September 2017. His personal awards include: The Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with (2) gold stars, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon. Mr. Alvarado currently serves as a Program Manager in support of the Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR), Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, Diplomatic Security. Mr. Alvarado holds a B.S. in Liberal Arts/Administrative and Management Studies from Excelsior College.

FORCM Bosco, USN FORCM Steven Bosco, USN; Force Master Chief, Submarine Force Atlantic

A native of Bayshore, New York, Force Master Chief Steven Bosco served as Chief of the Boat on the USS Alabama (SSBN-731) (BLUE). During his tour, the USS Alabama completed three nuclear deterrent patrols and earned two consecutive COMSUBRON 17 Strategic “S” and three consecutive Retention Excellence awards. He served on the staff of Commander, Submarine Squadron 15 as the Command Master Chief and most recently served on the staff of Commander, Submarine Group Seven as the Command Master Chief. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (5 awards) and various unit and campaign awards.

HTCS Sisk HTCS Bill Sisk, USN; 20th Company SEL, United States Naval Academy

Senior Chief Sisk hails from Homewood, Illinois and enlisted in the Navy in March 1998. He began his career on board USS George Washington (CVN 73) as a high pressure non-nuclear welder. His follow-on sea tours include the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), pre-commissioning unit USS New York (LPD 21), and USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). Ashore, Senior Chief Sisk served as a High Risk Instructor at Naval Station Great Lakes Hull Maintenance Technician school and Damage Control school. He also served as LCPO of Ship Superintendents at Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center. Currently, he is serving as the 20th Company Senior Enlisted Leader at the United States Naval Academy. His personal awards include four Navy Commendation Medals, five Navy Achievement Medals, Meritorious Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and various campaign and service awards.



Mr. Dave CastroKeynote 4 [Closing Speaker] :

Mr. Dave Castro; Director, CrossFit Games and CrossFit Training  [1115-1205]

Mr. Dave Castro is the Director of the CrossFit Games and CrossFit Training. Mr. Castro served as a Navy SEAL from 1998-2010 and first caught wind of CrossFit in 2005 when he started following to support his training. By 2006 he had begun training at the original CrossFit HQ affiliate. The following year, he hosted the first ever CrossFit Games competition at his family’s Ranch in Aromas, California. Since that time, the CrossFit Games have grown exponentially into a professional sport. Mr. Castro became Director of CrossFit in 2020 and is working to build a community of trust, respect and inclusivity.




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