New Mentoring Group Launched for Asian-American OfficersLt. Cmdr. Elizabeth Zimmerma | Thursday July 31, 2008
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Four officers established the Naval Officer Mentorship Association (NOMA) for officers with Asian or Filipino ancestry.
The organization's roots started about six years ago when four Filipino mid-grade officers discussed the few Filipino mentors they had. This helped prompt them to form NOMA.
At that time, the Association of Naval Services Officers for Hispanics and the National Naval Officers Association -- an organization with a significant African-American membership -- existed, but naval officers of Asian ancestry did not have a similar affinity group within the Navy.
"As with other affinity groups, a key element to the Asian community is the family and the community," said NOMA co-founder Cmdr. Joseph de Leon. "We hope to provide another avenue to help junior officers feel more like they are part of a family or community within the service."
"We hope to serve as visible and accessible role models and mentors as individuals look towards furthering careers in the service or are weighing the options while deciding on whether to remain on active duty."
Senior Navy leaders who serve as NOMA's advisors -- including several admirals -- believe NOMA will also serve as a valuable resource in community outreach and engagement.
"The diverse nature of today's America requires the Navy to reflect that diversity ? at all ranks," said Capt. Ken Barrett, chief of the Navy's Diversity Directorate. "NOMA is critical to building the mentoring link within our Asian and Pacific Islander community that will help attract, access, develop and retain the diverse talent needed for our 21st century Navy.
"The NOMA founders are truly visionaries, looking to make our Navy better."
Another NOMA co-founder Capt. Myles Esmele, explained that a leader's responsibility is to train themselves on the need for diversity in the Navy. It's equally important for them to train others.
"It's a war for talent," Esmele said. "We need to attract that talent."
NOMA also hopes to help the Navy retain its young officers. Affinity groups help engage the support of influencers, non-Navy family and friends of the officer by putting a face to the Navy that they can visually identify with, de Leon explained.
"With a growing Asian officer population, we have become the senior Asian officers that we were seeking during our early naval careers, and it's our turn to focus on the future of the Navy," said de Leon.
In addition to creating links for fellow Filipinos and others of Asian ancestry, NOMA's leadership wants the new organization to be a resource for all officers and officer candidates seeking a willing mentor to help guide their professional, personal and leadership development. They hope to enrich diversity throughout the officer ranks, in part by encouraging participation as a mentor or protege.
"Mentorship enables people to tap into the experiences of individuals," said de Leon. "NOMA will foster engagement with other officers, regardless of ethnic background."
For more information, contact the Naval Officer Mentorship Association at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more news from the Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.