Senior Leadership Academy 2019

We are pleased to ANNOUNCE THE 30 cadets who have been selected to attend the USNSCC’s inaugural Senior Leadership Academy (SLA) to be held from April 14 - 20 in Arlington, Virginia.

We’ll provide an update on their activities throughout the week - keep an eye on this page!


Day 1:

On Sunday, 30 of our most exceptional chief petty officers from around the country reported to Arlington, Virginia for our inaugural Senior Leadership Academy.

While Spring Break is usually synonymous with vacation or video games, these cadets will experience a week of exceptional educational experiences, world-class guest speakers, and incredible instruction.

They focused on meeting one another, discovering their strengths, and discussing the roles of grit and resilience in leadership. The cadets also received media training, learning how to write an opinion piece and how to safely and effectively use social media to tell their story. 

Day 2:

On Monday, the SLA chiefs took off for the Air and Space Museum, but it was no ordinary visit. Spending the day with them was retired NASA astronaut and Air Force Colonel Eileen Collins. A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. The cadets received instruction on ethical leadership from retired Navy Captains Chuck Farrell (Southwest Area Rep) and William Malloy (Northeast Area Rep). A film crew accompanied the chiefs, filming content for a series of upcoming promotional videos – keep an eye out for those!

Day 3:

Tuesday was a big day for the chiefs of SLA. The day began with a pride run from their hotel to the Iwo Jima Memorial where they watched the sun rise and listened to an impassioned speech about the meaning of the memorial from a chief who wants to be a Marine. The cadets wrote letters to their local representatives before spending time with Fleet Master Chief for U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Paul Kingsbury. The chiefs then headed to Capitol Hill where they went on a tour, met with an alum, and attracted quite a bit of attention on the sidewalk while reading the December issue of Sea Cadet Quarterly.

Day 4:

Chief Ethan Spell and Chief Jessica Chacko started the day on everyone’s favorite D.C. morning show, WJLA. The cadets, accompanied by our National Director of Education Dr. Richard Quest, represented the program brilliantly. In addition to the day’s classroom instruction, the cadets traveled to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to visit the White House. They also toured the World War II Memorial where they met several WWII and Korean War veterans. Later they toured the Korean War Memorial, the Seabee Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial. They paid their respects at Arlington National Cemetery where they watched the Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visited the Eternal Flame, the final resting place of President John F Kennedy. Their evening was spent cheering on the local team at the Washington Nationals baseball game.

Day 5:

The cadets accompanied Sea Cadet alum and attorney Matthew Landry to the Supreme Court, where they asked questions and learned about the court, the constitution, and the rule of law. Back in Arlington, the cadets met with several other notable figures. Former MCPON Mike Stevens held a special chief's mess, discussing several topical issues and shared his three keys for success: work hard, stay out of trouble, be a good and decent person. The chiefs also spent time with CDR Mike Abrashoff, author of the book “It’s Your Ship." Abrashoff was the most-junior officer in the Pacific Fleet when he took command of the near-worst performing ship. Twelve months later, the USS Benfold was the best ship in the entire Navy - using the same crew. The chiefs also met with Col. Chris Costa, former career intelligence officer, a former member of the National Security Council at the White House, and the current Executive Director of the International Spy Museum.

Day 6:

The chiefs spent most of the day at the U.S. Naval Academy where they spent time with Sea Cadet alum and current midshipmen, met with an Arctic explorer and tried on his gear, participated in a STEM experiment about climate change, met with a model ship curator, and were challenged in the simulator. The chiefs graduate on Saturday morning, and we are certain that regardless of whether their paths take them to the Naval Academy or elsewhere, they will continue representing their program, their nation, and themselves with the same levels of professionalism and pride they’ve demonstrated this week.

“The thirty Sea Cadets selected to attend SLA 2019 are the most elite cadet group in the country. Between them, they have attended 177 advanced trainings and served as staff cadets at 70 trainings. Now, it’s time for them to join their distinguished peers from around the country to spend a week sharpening their leadership skills and expanding their perspectives. We are excited to welcome these esteemed Sea Cadets at National Headquarters in April.”
— CAPT Paul Zambernardi, USN (Ret), Executive Director
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This is an exciting new era for chief petty officers in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. For the history of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, working to attain the rate of chief petty officer was the ultimate pinnacle in a cadet’s career. Happily, there is now more to strive for and achieve.”
— CPO Matthew Lewis, SLA 2019

About SLA 2019

the Application Process

The rigorous application process required a 750-word essay regarding leadership, exceptional academic credentials, substantial community service, two letters of recommendation, and demonstrated leadership abilities. Applications were scored based on a rubric used by the North Carolina State University’s Shelton Leadership School.

This week-long immersion in Leadership and Ethics will be an exciting journey of self- discovery, discussion, and debate with U.S. Naval Officers and Senior Enlisted personnel. Cadets will visit hallowed ground, walk historic sites, tour The Yard at the U.S. Naval Academy, be privy to behind-the-scenes politics and engage with historians, authors, and explorers. Cadets will experience the tradition of the Chief’s Mess and land the Space Shuttle Discovery with the shuttle’s former pilot and commander in the simulator with them. They will practice their leadership skills, learn new skills, and expand their networks. They will consider other perspectives throughout history, question what we know - and how we know it. Cadets will meet with those shadowy figures who discreetly stand watch guarding our national security. They will enjoy the camaraderie of their shipmates, attend a Major League Baseball game, and match their wits and skills in an escape room. Cadets will maintain their physical fitness with pride runs to pay their respects to those who have given their last full measure of devotion to keep us all safe and free. Finally, they will graduate with a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. in front of family, friends, and dignitaries.