Each year, the President of the United States designates September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month – a national celebration of the history, culture and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. As part of the Coast Guard’s recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month 2013, Coast Guard All Hands will celebrate some of the contributions made by Coast Guardsmen of hispanic heritage.
Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Laughlin.
Recognized as a leader and humanitarian, this Hispanic woman is a shining example of what it means to volunteer, not just to Latina and Hispanic women but to everyone, regardless of gender or race.
Aidalis Mills, the management and program analyst for the Coast Guard 9th District Planning and Force Readiness Branch, was awarded the LATINA Style Meritorious Service Award. She was recognized for duties performed in an outstanding manner, in which she promoted and enhanced the role of minorities, Hispanics and Latinos in the federal workforce and community.
From her office in the A. J. Celebrezze Federal Building in downtown Cleveland, Mills manages $1.8 million in Coast Guard Reserve training funds, providing procedural and regulatory guidance for reserve management, facilitating mobilization and demobilization of forces and preparing and administering training related to reserve affairs.
“Having had the pleasure of working with her for more than a year, I have no doubt that she has been instrumental in winning the award two years in a row,” said Lt. Cmdr. James McCown, chief of the Coast Guard 9th District Reserve Force Readiness Branch. “Knowing the ins and outs of reserve issues can be extremely challenging, yet she has achieved and, in most cases, surpassed running that difficult gauntlet.”
Additionally, Mills provides training and guidance to more than 500 reserve men and women within the district.
Through all of her hard work and accomplishments, she has gained the respect of her supervisors and peers through collaborative efforts, enhancing educational and developmental opportunities for federal employees and minorities.
“Mills carries out her duties in a most professional and proficient manner,” said McCown. “Her management and leadership skills make it easy for her to articulate to all she works with, of varying knowledge levels and abilities, the proper course of action to take.”
She was involved in managing the Cleveland Federal Employees Development Seminar in 2012 and 2013, allowing more than 200 federal employees from 16 agencies to leverage developmental education and diversity awareness opportunities.
Mills has organized and provided training to Special Emphasis Program managers and Coast Guard employees on equal employment opportunity and laws regulating equal rights.
Mills is a co-chair of the Coast Guard 9th District’s Leadership and Inclusion Council, championing diversity, listening to field concerns, encouraging active leadership and mentoring in order to support a workplace environment where all feel they are part of the team.
“Mills helped develop and standup an innovative leadership and inclusion management program that established leadership and inclusion councils throughout the Great Lakes, setting up a framework that fosters an environment of inclusion and professional development, and promotes diversity,” said Cmdr. Jorge Martinez, co-chair of the Leadership and Inclusion Council. “The endeavor was grounded in the belief that an inclusive working environment can and will attract, retain and support a diverse workforce.”
Mills has aided numerous organizations, including the Association of Naval Services Officers, where she has served on the national board for four years as the central regional vice president and is currently an active member of the local Cleveland area ANSO chapter. She has been instrumental in establishing two scholarships offered by the local chapter to deserving youth in the area.
“Mills is the foundation of the ANSO chapter here in Cleveland,” said Chief Petty Officer Juan Perez, another member of the chapter. “I can’t even begin to describe the countless hours and hard work she puts into making ANSO events and projects a success. If I had to choose one word to describe her, it would be ‘tough,’ but I would use words such as ‘dedicated, loyal and dependable,’ to name a few.”
Mills, an Ohio-native, has been with the Coast Guard for 16 of her 26 years of federal service, coming to the 9th District Planning and Force Readiness Branch in 2005.
She is a role model to her family as well. Mills has five children, two stepchildren and 15 grandchildren.
A longer version of this post originally appeared, and can be read in its entirety, on the Coast Guard Great Lakes blog.