U.S. Marine Corps APA Professionals Leadership Summit brings in top Marine Corps, Congressional, and civilian Industry professionals

6 May 2022 | 1stLt. Mallory S. VanderSchans Headquarters Marine Corps

Since its establishment in 2019, Marine Corps Asian Pacific American Professionals has remained committed to bringing together Marines and allies, of all backgrounds and cultures, to hear from Marine Corps and Congressional leadership and industry professionals for a leadership and education seminar.

The 2022 USMC APA Professionals Leadership Summit took place from April 27th – 28th within a Zoom virtual meeting and hosted over three dozen participants and key speakers. The fourth iteration’s theme was “Leverage” and presented the opportunity for participants to connect on the individual, community, and organization level through discussions on mentorship, inclusion, professionalism, and Marine Corps talent management initiatives.

To kick off the two day summit, the participants were welcomed with a video message from Congresswoman Young Kim, Representative of California’s 39th Congressional District, who offered her proud participation in the summit and continuous advocacy for USMC APA Professionals and the Asian American community.

General Eric M. Smith, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, next addressed the attendees and emphasized the importance of education and inclusion in the Marine Corps.

“I want a diversity of ideas,” said Smith when addressing the participants on fairness in reporting, mentorship, and how promotion and retention of Marines from all backgrounds is paramount in the success of the institution.

Gen. Smith took several questions from the participants and applauded the summit in being a platform to foster diversity and inclusion for the Marine Corps stating “Continue your leadership efforts…drive toward a central goal of winning the game, and the game is national security.”

Following Gen. Smith was Tyler Zagurski, a representative with Marine Corps Manpower & Reserve Affairs, who delivered a detailed and educational brief on Marine Corps Talent Management 2030 and the Talent Management Strategy Team assembled to aggressively address initiatives and enable the development of the new talent management system for the Marine Corps.

APA is actively engaged with Headquarters Marine Corps and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to directly support the CMC’s vision of Force Design 2030 and Talent Management 2030 and the significance of the Indo-Pacific area of operations. As the USMC APA Professionals website states, this area of operations is “…a location where Asian Pacific Americans understand and have a deep grasp of Language, Regional Expertise and Culture (LREC) continuum while possessing the capabilities of establishing rapport and building relationships among key partners and allies.”

Congresswomen Marilyn Strickland, Representative of Washington’s 10th Congressional District took the virtual stage next and offered advice to the participants using the summit’s theme of “Leverage” and the importance of using the 5Ps framework - purpose, power, presence, politics, and positioning – along with assets you have to fulfill one’s purpose and mission, whether that’s for the organization or for yourself.

“The military is stronger when everyone who serves has the opportunity to feel represented and has the opportunity to advance the way they choose to do so...be intentional about what you want to do. Be flexible and agile. And again, do not be reluctant to speak about what you want that journey to look like.” Congresswomen Marilyn Strickland, Representative of Washington’s 10th Congressional District

Representative Strickland was born in Seoul, South Korea, to a Korean mother and African American father who served in World War II and the Korean War. She is the first African-American to represent Washington State at the federal level and one of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress in its 230-year history.

A discussion panel led by four Marine Corps leaders closed-out the first day of the summit. Panel members included, Col. Joon H. Um, Chief of Staff for 3D Marine Logistics Group, Col. Ly T. Fecteau, Command Inspector General, Marine Corps Installations East, Col. Thomas D. Wood, Deputy Commander, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, and MGySgt Marie White (Ret.).

Each panelist had words of advice to offer the attendees with a common tone of leadership and relationships. Col. Um shared his thoughts on being a leader who walks around and gets outside with his and her Marines, while Col. Wood spoke on engaging early and often with Marines around you to build that trust and foster professional relationships. 

To kick off the second day of key note speakers, Mr. Clarence A. Johnson, Director of Diversity Management Operations Center, was pleased to be invited to speak to participants and offered his gratitude to the USMC APA Professionals for their continued efforts and commitments.

“I must say, your association’s efforts to connect, share, and to educate military and civilian employees is part of a larger plan - to develop a diverse force of leaders with government and with the Department of Defense, specifically promoting the national security interests of our great Nation,” Mr. Clarence A. Johnson, Director of Diversity Management Operations Center

Throughout the second day, attendees participated in the “Leverage” curriculum, learning how to harness and deploy the 5 professional “P”s framework in the workplace. The insightful curriculum was broken up in sessions through the summit and presented participants practical and effective tools to use toward their own professional and organization's success.

A civilian industry panel discussion brought in professionals; Bharat Amin, Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President of Huntington-Ingalls Industries, Roy Donelson, Chief Operating Officer and Vice president of Raytheon Missiles, and Gefferie Yee-Madera, Vice president of Northrop Grumman Space Systems. The industry leaders answered questions from the group and discussed the importance of collaboration between the DoD and civilian industries, pushing for the continued progression of diversity, equality, inclusion, and accessibility.

Maj. Gen William H. Seely III, Director of Marine Corps Intelligence, closed-out the summit as the last key note speaker and offered an interactive platform for the participants to have candid conversations about his experiences, insights, about success and leadership in the Marine Corps and military service. Maj. Gen. Seely III spoke adamantly on the human factor, not just the equipment we have– it’s the Marine that drives the success of the organization. He offered advice on “unlearning” – not focusing how things have been, but how things can be and our path forward as a Marine Corps.

Maj. Gen. Seely III is the first Vietnamese-American General in the Marine Corps and currently the Marine Corps’ highest ranking general officer in service who is of Asian or Pacific Islander decent.

Additionally, the summit allowed the participants to join break-out rooms in between educational briefs and speaker series. The rooms allowed the participants to speak openly in smaller groups and share their experiences, challenges, and offer more ways to connect.

The agenda throughout the summit was developed for Asian Pacific Americans as a partnership and collaboration between the Marine Corps and Elevate, a multi-university partnership, and Spectrum Knowledge, Inc. The Elevate Program uses interactive learning and research to increase organizational performance and strategic effectiveness.

Dr. Vu H. Pham, Chair of Elevate, was the instructor for the two day event and echoed the importance of diversity within organizations and the educational benefits this summit represents each year.

“APA is one of the key models that the whole DOD wants to do for every branch, not just for Asians, but for any ethnic gender, background...this is significant. This is small, but it’s mighty.” said Vu.


To learn more about USMC APA Professionals, visit: www.usmcapaprofessionals.com

For more on diversity and inclusion in the Marine Corps, visit: www.manpower.usmc.mil/webcenter/portal/MPE/

More on Talent Management 2030: www.marines.mil/News/Press-Releases/Press-Release-Display/Article/2831808/commandant-of-the-marine-corps-issues-talent-management-2030-plan/