Letter from the Director

For over 20 years, the Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership has grown to meet the expanding needs of the Naval Academy, Navy, Marine Corps and nation. Thanks to the contributions of our donors, the Stockdale Center continues to develop some of the country’s finest leaders. The impact of your generosity is felt by midshipmen, faculty, staff and coaches, as they engage with complex ethical issues. With your support, the Stockdale Center can advance the mission to produce leaders of uncompromising character and develop innovative products to strengthen the learning process on and off the Yard.

It was an honor to be selected as the 4th Director of the Center and to continue this important mission. We also welcomed new staff such as Dr. Jeff Macris in the role of the Robert and Mary M. Looker Stockdale Center Deputy Director and LtGen. John E. Wissler, USMC (Ret.) as the Distinguished Chair of Leadership. Mr. Michael Sears joined us as the Director of the Boeing Leadership Innovation Laboratory, Ms. Sarah White became the Center’s first Financial Management Analyst and Ms. Karin Ornberg assumed the position of Senior Staff Associate. We are thrilled with their accomplishments this past year and we look forward to the incredible work the Center will achieve in the future.

This report features the many accomplishments and research opportunities that are supported by philanthropic giving. Highlights include the inaugural Associate Fellows Program, the Ethics Debate Team competitions, attendance at national and international conferences and the technological enhancements of the Center’s teaching materials. We also outline the Center’s most pressing needs to reach our goal of preparing the next generation of leaders.

Fortunately, the best is yet to come as the Center stands poised to launch into 2020 with even more ambitious programs—none of which would be possible without the dedicated support of Stockdale Center stakeholders. Thank you for your commitment to the mission of the Naval Academy and to the Brigade of Midshipmen.

Dr. Joseph J. Thomas
The Roger and Linda Tetrault Director of the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership

Programs and Projects


The Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership’s Influence the Influencer initiative strengthens the capabilities and confidence of USNA faculty, coaches and staff as they teach and develop the Brigade of Midshipmen. Influence the Influencer offers a variety of leadership opportunities to those who value the role of mentors in advancing the mission of the Naval Academy.

STOCKDALE CENTER ASSOCIATE FELLOWS – The Stockdale Center recently launched the Associate Fellows program. This is an internal leader development program tailored for twelve of our faculty, coaches and staff per cohort. The curriculum is a combination of online content, guest speakers, experiential opportunities and special projects.

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT COURSES – More than 25 key influencers attended open enrollment programs at some of the finest graduate schools and institutes, including Northwestern - Kellogg, Harvard - Kennedy, Stanford, Georgetown, University of Michigan – Ross, MIT - Sloan and the Center for Creative Leadership. This opportunity broadened leadership competencies for key influencers by providing external educational opportunities at nationally-ranked educational institutions.

NAVAL ACADEMY KEY INFLUENCER OUTDOOR EXPEDITION COURSE – Custom education leadership expeditions are available for USNA coaches, faculty and staff. There are four Naval Academy Influencer Expeditions in 2019, including sending 48 Key Influencers to the renowned National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). This program is one of the most impactful experiential leadership opportunities available because it is invested in specific cohorts including Company Officers, Junior Permanent Military Professors and Stockdale Associate Fellows.

“The Naval Academy Influencers NOLS trip to Wyoming went well beyond any expectations I could conjure up. The connections made and perspective gained I doubt can ever be recreated. That opportunity has changed the way I communicate and the way I coach the midshipmen.” - USNA Athletics Coach

STOCKDALE CENTER ASSOCIATE FELLOWS – The Stockdale Center recently launched the Associate Fellows program. This is an internal leader development program tailored for twelve of our faculty, coaches and staff per cohort. The curriculum is a combination of online content, guest speakers, experiential opportunities and special projects.

VOLGENAU HONOR, COURAGE & COMMITMENT SEMINAR SERIES – Over 150 faculty, coaches, staff and midshipmen attended the Fall and Spring leadership luncheons featuring nationally recognized speakers Mr. Bill Kraus, founder of Mission BBQ (Fall 2018) and Jake Harriman ’98, USNA graduate and founder of Nuru International (Spring 2018).

“The best speeches I have ever heard on leadership. Mr. Harriman and Mr. Kraus proved to be excellent examples of people to look up to in order to make smart, ethical decisions. As a new employee of the Naval Academy, this opportunity provided me with not only principles on servant leadership, but also an opportunity for networking with various individuals Yard-wide.”

DISCIPLINE-SPECIFIC PROFESSIONAL CONFERENCES – Seven USNA faculty members, identified as national or global leaders in their respective academic domains, attended discipline-specific professional conferences. They serve the wider academic community in their leadership capacity, further raising the profile and prestige of the Naval Academy.

LEADERSHIP CONSULTATION, COACHING & ASSOCIATIONS – Eighteen USNA key influencers attended coaching workshops hosted by the Center for Creative Leadership and Georgetown University’s Coaching Skills for Leaders in Higher Education. These influencers provide a valued return on investment by enriching the Naval Academy honor remediation program as well as the Stockdale Associate Fellows Program. Further, the Stockdale Center funded a Naval Academy Professional Development Day, impacting over ninety key influencers.

EXPERIENTIAL LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT – The Stockdale Center impacted nearly two hundred key influencers through nine different experiential leadership events throughout this year. Coaches, faculty and staff received opportunities to be helmsmen aboard a Yard Patrol Craft, serve as mainsheet trimmer while sailing a NAVY 44, jump off the 10-meter board, scale the USNA climbing wall, witness the challenge of navigation at night in the planetarium, conn a DDG in the bridge simulator, participate in Sea Trials and view the SEAL Screener. Key influencers quickly learned leadership lessons through one-of-a-kind experiences that only the Naval Academy can provide.

GALLUP CLIFTON STRENGTHS LEADERSHIP INVENTORY & WORKSHOP – In response to Stockdale Center initiatives, USNA now has five Gallup-certified CliftonStrengths coaches. The CliftonStrengths is a web- based assessment identifying key influencer signature leadership strengths. The Stockdale Center offers the assessment both individually and for leadership teams.

“The value of the Influence-the-Influencer initiative cannot be overstated. The Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership is made unique through the ethical component interjected into the leadership opportunities it provides. Knowing that the Stockdale Center is willing to invest in my leadership development has given me the confidence to seek out opportunities for growth and continued learning.”


The Stockdale Center contracted with WILL Interactive to create a Virtual Experience Immersive Learning Simulation (VEILS®). WILL Interactive’s VEILS® is a computer-based, decision-making tool that gives midshipmen practice in making the best possible decisions when faced with ethical challenges in the Fleet and Operating Forces. The VEILS® environment uses high-quality, live-action video to expose users to realistic scenarios they might encounter as junior officers. The scenarios present ethical dilemmas and potential choices that foster a culture of accountability and reliability.


The Integritas Film Project combines the power of narrative with sophisticated tools and concepts of modern advertising. This year, two additional leadership videos were designed, filmed and edited. The Integritas videos were shown at Army-Navy basketball games, Forrestal leadership lectures, Army-Navy Wrestling matches, Brigade Boxing Finals, Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Games and graduation: www.integritasproject.com



On 28-29 March 2019, the Stockdale Center held its 19th annual McCain Conference, seeing the highest attendance in the event’s history. The McCain Conference is one of the world’s preeminent meetings to discuss ethical issues relevant to military operations. The Center also presented the research seminar with its Resident Fellows in front of ethics and law faculty representing all U.S. service academies, leaders from civilian universities, members of industry, government officials and midshipmen. Visit the McCain Conference’s webpage to watch the debates, lectures and research presentations: https://www.usna.edu/Ethics/programs/McCain_Conference/index.php


Keynote Speaker: Admiral Bill Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations
On 6 September 2018, the Center hosted the 31st Annual Ethics Essay Award Dinner. The event, funded by the USNA Class of 1981, honors winning essays submitted for the Ethics and Moral Reasoning course, which midshipmen take during their third-class year. Winners receive the USNA Class of 1951 William P. Lawrence Ethics Essay Award.

Paper topics from the finalists ranged from critiques of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Just War Theory to moral considerations of a first-strike option against North Korea. The winners were Midshipman 2/C Lani Davis’ paper entitled “Artificial Intelligence in Automated Weapons Systems” and Midshipman 2/C Max Gelbach’s paper, “Moral Implications of Targeted Killings.”


On 25 February 2019 Lieutenant General John E. Wissler ’78, USMC (Ret.), used a combination of personal experiences in combat and peacetime service to discuss the topic “Leadership: Your Character in Action - Engaging well in the struggle for character.”



The Academy’s USNA Ethics Debate team has competed in ethics debate and business ethics case competitions annually for 16 years and hosted a military ethics case competition with the service academies for six years. The USNA Ethics Team participated in the following case competitions in 2018-19:

October 2018: The Eller School of Management Collegiate Ethics Case Competition, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. The team placed 3rd in a field of 25.

November 2018: The Association of Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) Ethics Bowl Southeast Regional, St. Petersburg College, St. Petersburg, Florida. The team finished 3-1-1 placing 5th in a field of 20.

February 2019: The Enactus Inter-Collegiate Competition in Business and Ethics, Mount Saint Mary’s University, Emmitsburg, Maryland. The team placed 1st. The team’s participation in the Sixth Annual Templeton Business Ethics Case Competition at Stetson University was cancelled due to inclement weather.

April 2019: On 13 April 2019, the Stockdale Center and Class of 1964 hosted the sixth annual Military Ethics Case Competition, which remains the only military ethics competition in the nation. The team organized and ran the competition and placed 5th.


The American Service Academy Program is a 16-day educational initiative in Poland created by the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation (AJCF) for a select group of cadets and midshipmen from the federal military service academies. The Naval Academy representatives for 2019 were Midshipman 2/C Anna Duval and Midshipmen 3/C Cooper Halliday, Darren Kegolvitz and Clayton Leep.

The four selected Naval Academy representatives participated in intensive workshops, listened to lectures from Holocaust survivors and met with scholars, high-level government officials, students from Eastern Europe and citizens of Poland. Midshipmen visited Warsaw, Krakow, Auschwitz and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York as well as the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Midshipmen returning from this program wrote papers on their experience.


In Spring 2019, midshipmen traveled to India to conduct research on civil military relations with their counterparts from Tufts University. The purpose of this research was to gain insight into a variety of challenges faced by India due to its geographic location in the Indo Pacific, demography and ambitious geostrategic goals. The trip was organized through each university’s individual ALLIES chapter and took place from 31 May until 15 June. This research aims not only to deepen global and cultural understanding of the midshipmen, cadets and university students, but also to present small unit leadership challenges and to build civilian-military bonds in the group.


On March 25-29, 2019, Midshipmen Debra Baner, Russell Bauer, Aaron Dunn, Rae-Kelly Hamilton, Wyatt Kartvedt and Katey Mae McInturff joined over 70 other service academy cadets from 16 countries around the world for the 18th Annual Military Academies Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) Competition hosted by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law at their headquarters in San Remo, Italy. The competition is simulation-based and aims to teach midshipmen and cadets LOAC and its application within the context of contemporary armed conflict.


2020 is an important year for the Stockdale Center, in that the Naval Academy’s new 10-year strategic plan will be forged. Working with the stakeholders across the Yard, the Naval Academy Foundation, our alumni and other supporters, the Stockdale Center aims to:


The next frontier for the Center is conducting leadership-specific research. The Stockdale Center wants to position itself at the forefront of leadership development research, initially by cementing a series of collaborative relationships with university researchers, as well as other U.S. government agencies.


The purpose of the Boeing Leadership Innovation Lab is to explore and implement cutting-edge theories and methodologies to ensure that the Naval Academy graduates Navy and Marine Corps leaders prepared for the 21st century. The Lab serves as a fusion center of thought and experimentation to determine how to strengthen, individualize and accelerate the leadership development process.


The Center annually hosts three visiting faculty members who are typically drawn from the fields of ethics or philosophy. With the Director of Strategy, the Distinguished Ethics Chair and internal USNA faculty, participants investigate the most pressing moral issues. The current research seminar for 2019-2020 is entitled “The Foundations and Future of Human Rights.” The year-long research effort culminates in the McCain Conference, where the Stockdale Center aims to expand and publish the written academic literature surrounding ethical leadership.


The purpose of the program is to strengthen the leadership competencies and confidence of USNA’s faculty, coaches and staff. From 2016-2019 the Center invested over $1,000,000 in the development of the Academy’s key leaders, ranging from team-building events for Department Chairs to executive development courses at Northwestern, Harvard and Duke Universities, among many others. After proving the concept over the past several years, a deeper and more consistent application of this investment is through the Associate Fellows Program.


The Stockdale Center has outgrown its home in Luce Hall and there is interest in exploring another location for the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership in the coming years.

Updated: March 18, 2020
Curator: Ed Moore