Model of Excellence Awards Dinner

By Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin (as prepared)
Model of Excellence Awards Dinner
Newport News Shipbuilding
Model of Excellence Awards
Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin speaks at the 2018 Model of Excellence awards dinner, held Oct. 11, 2018. Photo by Matt Hildreth/HII

Good evening! I’m Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding…And it’s my great honor to welcome you to the President’s Model of Excellence Awards celebration!

Tonight, we celebrate the best of the best in shipbuilding. And that’s no small feat. Because I truly believe that every day, the finest shipbuilders in the world enter our shipyard gates.

We pour our hearts and our souls into the aircraft carriers and submarines that we build and repair to ensure that our sailors and our freedom are protected.

We demonstrate patriotism and commitment at its finest. And I continue to be awestruck by the dedication and strong work ethic I see.

But I am a baseball fan and it’s October, so tonight we talk about the standouts. And those are the shipbuilders we are here to celebrate tonight.

Shipbuilders like those in the Columbia-class submarine program who took a risk to propose a design change that is expected to result in greater cost efficiency…

And shipbuilders like Craig Holley, whose commitment to employee engagement inspired him to take action that has not only impacted his division, but other divisions around him.

So I’d like to kick things off by asking all of our Models of Excellence to stand and be recognized.


I mentioned that I am a baseball fan, and some of you have heard me compare shipbuilding to baseball. Like shipbuilding, baseball tends to be very methodical and strategic and it involves incredible skill and intuition.

The great baseball legend Yogi Berra, from my own home town of St. Louis, once said…

“Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.”

While I’d like to think my math is a little more precise than Yogi’s, his point is well-taken, and I believe the same is true of shipbuilding.

Shipbuilding is strenuous work, but it’s also a calling. It gets in your blood.

As a shipbuilder, you work when others don’t.  In 100-degree heat.  In snow.  And in rain.

You climb up steep ladders and maneuver into tight spaces.  You work under tremendous budget and schedule pressures.  And yet you always do your best work.

You aren’t simply checking a box with the work that you do. Your head and your heart are in the game, all the time… Because you know that the ships we build will protect and strengthen our Navy for generations to come.

And like everything else in the world today, our Navy and our products are changing.

Baseball was coined America’s favorite pastime at the turn of the last century, before television or video games came into our lives. That is, before today’s technology.

And technology is no longer a rookie, it’s transforming our industry in every way.

To maintain our relevance and lead our company and our industry forward, we are working hard to modernize how we build ships and run our business.

Your skills and your critical  thinking will only grow in importance as shipbuilding becomes less like baseball and more fast-paced like basketball.

You’ve already demonstrated that you are up for the challenge – and you are already tackling it head on.

That is why you are a shipbuilding standout – a Model of Excellence.

We will hear more about your specific achievements after dinner… But I think I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize another similarity between shipbuilding, baseball and basketball.

Shipbuilding is a team sport. We rely on each other as shipbuilders—we are ONE team.

We have to lean heavily on other teammates – our family members and our friends – to do what we do best, and to truly win.

Having that support is integral to the success of all of our honorees tonight, and we thank you.

At this time I would like to give all of our family members and friends who have joined us a well-deserved round of applause.

And now… I’d like to ask everyone to raise a glass…

Thank you to our 2018 Model of Excellence winners for all that you do to make us the best that we can be, and congratulations on your well-deserved achievement!


It is now my pleasure to introduce one of tonight’s honorees to deliver the invocation. He is a safety analyst and 12-year veteran shipbuilder…

Please welcome Jonathan Pitts.


Thank you, Jonathan. Now, please enjoy your dinner.


Good evening again.  I hope you enjoyed your dinner.

It is now my pleasure to share a special video with you that illustrates the pride and spirit of tonight’s Models of Excellence.

Let’s roll the video.


While this video only shows some of you, I think it’s safe to say that it represents all of you. Your leadership, your service and your commitment to always do your best is commendable, and I thank you for all that you do.


To learn more about your individual and team achievements, we’re going to begin the special recognition portion of tonight’s celebration.

I’d like to ask Jennifer Dunn, vice president of Communications, to join me on stage to recognize tonight’s first honorees.

I would like to thank each of our presenters tonight… And give one final well-deserved round of applause to all of our Models of Excellence.

Each winner will take home:

  • A framed certificate that includes a president’s coin and an MOE coin
  • A 100 dollar gift card to the NNS Spear and Gear Company Store
  • And an MOE hard hat sticker and lanyard

Additionally, and very importantly, you will receive an extra 2,000 dollars in your next paycheck.

Before we go, I’d like to thank our nominators – it takes a lot of time and effort to write up the nominations and present them to the MOE Board.

Please stand as I call your name:

Larry Deaver,  Wayne Evans Kevin Fallon, Jean Hunt Jr. , Kenton Meland, Jim O’Brien, Pam Rowe, Dean Royal, Jared Smiddy, Jeffrey Tatum, Jerry Tice, Mark Weaver, Brian Welch, Todd West, Brian Wolfe, Kimberly Zayakosky, and Bharat Amin.

I’d also like to recognize the MOE Board, comprised of my senior staff, for the time and effort they put into reviewing each of the nominations and selecting this year’s winners.

Thank you all for your hard work in support of this program, and for your help tonight.

And finally, I’d like to recognize Yasmine Robinson for her leadership of the MOE program for the past several years.  She’s moving on to a new position in the company and tonight marks her final MOE event.

Yasmine – thank you for your leadership, creativity and professionalism.

Ladies and gentlemen – that concludes tonight’s celebration…

But before we go, please look on the back of your MOE program —

If your program has a colored dot on the back cover, that means you get to take home the flower arrangement on your table.

Have a great evening and safe travels home, and as you leave, please grab your special MOE gift box out front.

Thank you.

About Huntington Ingalls

HII is a global engineering and defense technologies provider, and recognized worldwide as America’s largest shipbuilder. With a 135-year history of trusted partnerships in advancing U.S. national security, HII delivers critical capabilities ranging from the most powerful and survivable naval ships ever built, to unmanned systems, ISR and AI/ML analytics. HII leads the industry in mission-driven solutions that support and enable an all-domain force. For more information, visit: