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2021 Coast Guard Civilian Employee of the Year: Mary Jean Silva

Silva moved to Kodiak in 2019 to work as the training and curriculum coordinator.

Mary Jean Silva, assistant director at the Base Kodiak Child Development Center (CDC), was selected as a recipient of the Coast Guard Civilian Employee of the Year (CEOY) for 2021.

The award ceremony was held in Washington D.C. at the Coast Guard Headquarters building on November 17, 2021, where eight individuals were recognized as winners of the CEOY and the Non-Appropriated Fund Employees (NAF EOY) awards.

The awards recognize the diligence and extraordinary work ethic of the highly skilled civilian employees who greatly contributed to the accomplishments of the Coast Guard’s operational mission readiness throughout 2021.

Silva was on vacation in her hometown Malamig Gloria Oriental Mindoro, Phillippines, with her husband Russel Andal, when she was notified by Coast Guard leadership that she would be traveling to Washington to receive the award.

“I was shocked, and I didn’t know how to act when I first learned the news,” said Silva. “Knowing I was selected amongst the best of the best was just unbelievable. This award meant the world to me, especially to show my children and family and everybody from my hometown what I’ve accomplished because this validates that regardless of your race, religion, etc., you can achieve goals and dream big if you work diligently in life. This made my town so proud!”

Silva moved to Kodiak in 2019 to work as the training and curriculum coordinator and went on to fill a temporary promotion as the director at the CDC from March 2021 through July 2021.

Since then, Silva has held the position of assistant director, where she acts as the principal assistant to the director, executes $500,000 non-appropriated and $300,000 appropriated funds budgets, oversees 26 staff members, ensures proper registration of children, implements the USDA food program, and does administration for the Coast Guard subsidy program. Silva also acted as the family childcare coordinator for the 17th District, which oversees the training, certification, and inspection of any home-daycare programs run in Coast Guard housing.

For most of 2021, the Base Kodiak CDC director, training and curriculum coordinator, education specialist, administrative assistant, and cook positions were vacant, so Silva filled numerous other roles and responsibilities on top of her existing job.

“Ms. Jean is a dedicated and industrious employee who consistently put the support of Coast Guard families and children as her top priority,” said Cmdr. Anna Steel, Base Kodiak personnel support department head. “She worked cheerfully through severe personnel shortages and is extremely deserving of this honor.”

The CDC has a maximum enrollment capacity of 120 children and maintained an average enrollment of 114 children through 2021.

In addition to her daily duties, Silva ensured the center opened on time during hazardous winter weather conditions and stayed on base when winter weather was forecasted, instead of going home at the end of the day. This sacrifice allowed the center to open on time regardless of weather delays, enabling members of the operational commands to report for duty without delay.

“It feels great to be valued by my leadership and the Coast Guard as a whole and moving forward I feel obligated to meet the high expectations of my leaders, staff, the families and especially the children that I serve,” said Silva. “I got this award because I had a solid CDC team from custodians, cooks, admin, classroom teachers, the parents as partners, the community and my leaders who trusted and supported the CDC. The Kodiak CDC will continue to strive to provide the best quality program for each child enrolled.”

Silva didn’t always plan to become a daycare provider and was even a little intimidated at the idea of taking care of children when she first began working at the Japan Navy Child Development Center in 1995. Silva moved from California to Japan, where she began working as a cook at the CDC. As her bravery grew, she started by helping in the infant room and singing to the babies. After realizing how much she enjoyed being in the rooms with the kids, she then went on to care for toddlers, then preschoolers and beyond.

As Silva discovered her passion for teaching children effectively, she pursued her goal of becoming a trainer for teachers. In 1999, she taught Early Childhood Education at the Central Texas College, in Okinawa, Japan, in the evenings. During the day, Silva continued her career at the Army Child and Youth Program in Camp Zama, Japan, and landed her first management position as the assistant director for the CDC.

The Army organization gave Silva the opportunity to excel as an employee by sending her to the top Child, Youth and School Services (CYS) training programs and providing her with tuition assistance to reach her goals. As a result, Silva became one of the Army’s Child and Youth Program subject matter experts for the CDC, school-age, teens, family childcare and numerous other programs.

Throughout her 27-year early childhood education career, Silva has had the opportunity to work at multiple military facilities in locations like Texas, California, San Diego, Kansas and Misawa and Yokota, Japan.

“There is a saying that goes, ‘it takes a special person to work at a daycare,’ but I will tell you that aside from job security, since there is always need for childcare, what other career can you work and play all day?” asked Silva. “At the end of the day, knowing I am making a difference in the life of a child while supporting the military mission is a privilege in itself.”

Silva is an outstanding leader with unparalleled dedication, exemplifying the Coast Guard’s core values.

Read more at USCG

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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