The 2011 Rising Star Awards: The future's so bright

Here’s the big takeaway from the 2011 Rising Star awards: Things are looking up.

Based on this year’s batch of nominations, the federal IT community is chock-full of young employees who have the energy, ability and ambition to make a difference. The 25 who won the award were not the only deserving individuals — they were simply the strongest of a very strong field. For people who are worried about the next generation of federal IT leaders, that is good cause for optimism.

But there’s more to it than that. Those individuals were in a position to win the award because their managers gave them opportunities to do meaningful work. That is something we have seen over the years: Young people who join federal agencies or their contractors often get to work on programs that are larger, more important and sometimes cooler than anything they might have touched in the private sector. How great is that?

That’s why we don’t put an age limit on nominees. The seemingly boundless opportunities in the federal government have always attracted people looking for a second career. So our criteria simply specify that nominees must be in the first third of their federal careers, which in practice translates to roughly 10 years.

I would like to thank this year’s judges for taking on the difficult task of sifting through the nominations and narrowing the field to 25. It was an intense process, but it paid off in spades, as you will see in the pages that follow.

I also would like to thank Phil Kiviat and the Bethesda, Md., chapter of the Young AFCEANs, who came up with the idea for the Rising Stars program seven years ago.

And finally, I salute the Rising Star winners of 2011. I look forward to seeing all that you will accomplish in the bright days to come.

— John S. Monroe

Read the first Rising Star profile, view the full list of winners, or read advice from the 2011 Rising Star judges.

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