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News | Aug. 19, 2020

Women in Leadership Spotlight: Deanna Blesch

DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

Editor’s Note: The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime recognizes Women’s Equality Day in August. In honor of women’s contributions to the agency’s global mission, we are highlighting women in leadership who contribute to our mission of providing logistics support to America’s warfighters.

What is your position title and role?  I am the Deputy Director of Maritime Customer Operations.  I manage a team of associates who provide customer support to the Navy Operational and Industrial Customers as well as United States Coast Guard, Army, Navy and Foreign Military Support.

What do you think about when you hear Women’s Equality Month?  I think of those women who’ve brought us so far; yet, realize there’s still a lot of work for us to do.

Who are some women you admire?  I admire those women who have successfully juggled many priorities. Specifically, Land and Maritime’s own Debbie Haven, who achieved both the rank of Rear Admiral (Upper Half) in the Navy Reserve and GS-15 in her civil service career while raising two successful daughters.

In your opinion, what challenges remain for women today? Particularly in our COVID environment, maintaining a career while serving as primary caregiver, teacher, babysitter, pastor and doctor to their children.

How can understanding history help us to overcome them? Understanding the past helps us to lead intentionally, make deliberate investments that support women and provide opportunities that previously didn’t exist. For me, knowing the hurdles that women before us were able to overcome serves as a motivator; my challenges seem small in comparison.

How long have you worked for the federal government including military service? I have worked for the federal government for 36 years in a variety of positions supporting the Navy, Army and DLA.

How long have you worked for L&M and how did you get your start here?  I joined the Land and Maritime team in 2005 as a member of the Customer Relationship Management development team.

What is your favorite thing about your line of work? Guiding and mentoring associates; it is extremely rewarding for me to be able to help other be successful and achieve their career goals.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given you? As a young GS-7 Purchasing Agent without a college degree, I had reached the ceiling in that career field.  A group of senior female contract specialists advised and encouraged me to get a college degree.  With an undergraduate and then a Master’s Degree, my opportunities were unlimited.

If you could learn to master one thing, what would it be? Snow skiing.

Who is the most influential person in your life…past or present?  My mother, who showed me that with hard work and perseverance you can achieve anything.

What is your best memory of working at L&M? Walking the stairs with my Maritime Industrial team.  We would take periodic breaks throughout the work day, hike the stairs from basement to roof and talk about order fulfillment challenges or life in general.  It was a great way to get healthy, learn and bond as a team.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to serve my country in some way.  I am a fourth-generation civil servant.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? Listen to my grandmother’s stories about her impact on women of her church. I had no idea of the influence she had on so many until they all spoke at her funeral.

What’s the most thrilling/adventurous thing you have ever done? Hiking to the top of Koko Head on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.  The climb is scary but the view from the top is amazing!

If you could pick a personal motto, what would it be? Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you.

Any advice for those starting careers at L&M? Respect, recognition and reward come from performance. Excel in your daily work, explore opportunities to learn and grow. Ask lots of questions.