Rising Star Heather Blackwell
Name: Maj. Heather W. Blackwell
Organization: Office of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
Title: Air Force Legislative Fellow
Nominated for: Leading the modernization of the Air Force’s $600 million inventory of theater command and control and air control communications systems. Used a portfolio management approach to successfully make the case for a $30 million budget increase to improve communications in counterinsurgency and humanitarian relief operations.
First IT mentor: I was a brand-new second lieutenant reporting to my first duty location at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. I was lucky enough to share an office with Senior Master Sergeant (ret.) Steve Larson who was a master sergeant at the time. Steve was not only my first information technology mentor but being a brand-new second lieutenant, I learned the fundamentals of being a good Air Force officer. Steve taught me the importance of exploring the technical aspects of our career field while also maintaining focus on the managerial details required for a successful team.
Latest accomplishment: The accomplishment I’m most proud of would be the support we’ve been able to provide to wounded warriors and their families. Military personnel and their families are extremely stressed now due to continued efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan. While in this job, we’ve been able to make some great strides toward improving quality of health care and quality of life for those service members and their families who have sacrificed so much for our country.
Career highlight: Two highlights: pinning senior airman stripes on an airman in my flight while stationed at Balad Air Base, Iraq, and officiating at the ceremony of my good friend and mentor in honor of his promotion to chief master sergeant.
Favorite bookmark: Early Bird
Dream non-IT-related job: College professor
The annual Rising Star awards are presented by the 1105 Government Information Group, publisher of Federal Computer Week, GCN and Washington Technology, to public and private sector employees in the federal IT community who have gone above and beyond their job descriptions to make a lasting impact in their organization. See all the 2009 Rising Star award winners.