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News | Nov. 23, 2020

National American Indian Heritage Month Employee Spotlight: Shawn Cody

DLA Land and Maritime

Editor’s Note: The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime recognizes National American Indian Heritage Month each November. We are highlighting employees of American Indian heritage throughout the month in honor of their enduring contributions to the agency’s global mission of logistics support to America’s warfighters.

What is your position title and role?  I’m the deputy director for Maritime Supplier Operations

What do you think about when you hear National American Indian Heritage Month? Opportunities to share the dynamic history and culture of the Native American tribes and many contributions that have been made to the United States.

Who are some people of American Indian heritage you admire? As a boy growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, I was a huge baseball fan and an even bigger Cleveland Indians fan.  For a school project I did a report on Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian who played outfield for the Cleveland Spiders (now the Cleveland Indians) from 1897-1899.  He was nicknamed the “The Deerfoot of the Diamond” and is considered the first person of Native American ancestry to play Major League Baseball.  Like the more famous Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier as the first African American to play Major League Baseball, Louis was subjected to racial slurs, war whoops, war dances and other acts of prejudice toward him due to his Penobscot heritage. I have always been amazed at the self-determination and courage that it took for him to look past the hate and racism and still be able to perform at such a high level.  I often wonder how many of us would be able to do the same if we had to walk in his shoes.  

In your opinion, what challenges remain for American Indians today and how can understanding history help us to overcome them?  Like so many other cultures in this country, I think ensuring that the Native American Indians have equal access to opportunities for education, employment, health care and prosperity.  Understanding the history and culture helps provide an understanding of some of the limiting factors that have contributed to the lack of availability to these things in the past.  

How long have you worked for the federal government including military service? 28 years

How long have you worked for L&M and how did you get your start here? I have worked at the Defense Supply Center Columbus – known as the Defense Construction Supply Center at that time – for 28 years starting in 1992 after being hired right after graduating from the University of Akron (Go Zips!) starting out as an item manager. 

Who would you say was your greatest influence in choosing your career? My first supervisor, Charlene Williamson, and trainer, Joyce Collins, really showed me the value of a federal career. My original goal when I first started working at DCSC was to work here for a year or two to gain some experience and look for other jobs in the private sector.  However, Charlene and Joyce provided significant guidance and insight on the many options and varying opportunities available in the Defense Logistics Agency and Land and Maritime, but also demonstrated the immense job satisfaction that results from providing direct support to the military services.  It’s awfully hard to find that kind of reward and job satisfaction in private industry.  

What is your favorite thing about your line of work?  I enjoy providing support to the warfighter and problem solving the many acquisition and logistic issues that can limit that support.

How has your family’s American Indian ancestry/origins influenced your life?  I do not have any Native American ancestry in my family lineage, but I was fortunate to be selected as the executive champion for the Native American Indian Heritage Program.  In this role over the past few years, I have been exposed and learned so much about the rich culture and history of Native Americans. 

What is the best piece of advice someone has given you? In middle school my soccer coach instilled in me and my fellow teammates the importance of personal accountability for our own actions.  He preached the importance of individual effort, desire and work ethic that was critical for individual success, but more importantly for the team.  Taking responsibility for your self was the first step on the road to success.

What personal accomplishments are you most proud of?  My wife and I have been married for 30 years and we successfully raised four beautiful daughters whose intelligence, independence and success continually amazes me.

If you could learn to master one thing, what would it be? I would love to be able to learn how to play the guitar and the piano!

What did you want to be when you grew up and why? I always wanted to be a Major League Baseball player. To be able to make a living playing a game that I loved just seemed to be the ultimate prize. The fact that I didn’t throw more than 75 miles an hour and could not hit a curve ball, I pretty much knew that was not going to be my reality.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? I would love to be able to travel back in time to really get to see first-hand the significant historical events as they really happened.

What’s the most thrilling/adventurous thing you have ever done? Sky diving and white water rafting. The natural thrill and excitement that each of these provides is hard to duplicate.

If you could pick a personal motto, what would it be? “Do something today that your future self will thank you for!”