Taking the Helm
By Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, USMC-Ret.
We weren't surprised, then, when his retirement plans included giving us a full eight months to find his successor. We were grateful for the time, since we accept the conventional wisdom that one of the most important tasks faced by the board of a nonprofit organization is the selection of its CEO.
I'll have more to say about Mike's service—which has been nothing short of superb—in a later column. This month, however, I'd like to introduce you to Navy Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., whom the board elected in February to succeed Mike. When he retires in September after more than 35 years in uniform, Norb Ryan will become TROA's ninth president.
A pilot by training, Norb gained extensive operational experience while commanding naval aviation units at the squadron, wing, and fleet levels. He holds a master's degree in personnel administration and completed the senior officials' national security program at Harvard University. A tour of duty as the Navy's chief of legislative affairs immediately preceded his current service as the chief of naval personnel. That's a very abbreviated version of an extremely impressive official biography. You'll perhaps be more interested, as we were, in the remarks we heard, before and after his election, from people who know Norb well:
"A passionate advocate for our men and women in uniform and a superb strategist in dealing with the various stakeholders in our legislative process."
"His major strength of character is his skill in dealing with people. … A leader, a team player, a creative thinker, and a gentleman of integrity, honesty, and action."
"A leader who knows Washington, knows Congress and how it works, knows the issues facing active and retired military personnel and how to solve them, [Norb] is a man of unchallenged character and integrity and is motivated for the job and its challenges."
"A great human being and a leader par excellence."
These comments, and many others like them, came from senior military leaders, members of Congress, congressional staffers, and—most important—men and women who have worked for and with Norb during his career. Finding the common thread is pretty easy: a terrific leader who cares about everyone who wears or has worn the uniform. Norb Ryan has the background, skills, energy, and passion that predict a successful term as our president. We're confident that our association will continue to enjoy first-rate leadership.
The SECNAV Retiree Council is made up of 22 retired personnel appointed by the SECNAV for a 3 year period. It consists of 11 officers, 11 enlisted; 8 of each are Navy and 3 are Marine Corps. The Council is chaired by a retired flag officer of either the Navy or Marine Corps (MGEN Cooper currently) and co-chaired by a retired E-9 of the opposite service (currently former MCPON.)
The Secretary appoints personnel who are nominated by their parent service in order to maximally represent: (a) geographic distribution; (b) gender distribution; and (c) representation of both under-65 retirees as well as over-65 specialty representation. Special efforts are made to find retirees with expertise in personnel management, fiscal and pay issues, and health care issues.
The council meets, at a minimum, once each year in Washington to discuss issues that effect retirees and to make recommendations to the Secretary of the Navy on policy development. Retirees are recalled to active duty for the period of service. This year, the meeting will be 8-12 April in Washington. Captain Joan Huber, USN (Ret) from our Board of Directors has been recalled to active duty by the Secretary of the Navy to serve on this Council. Congratulations Joan!
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