Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell
Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Megan Drewniak believes there is a way to inspire and motivate others through an ignited passion.
“It must be genuine, from the heart and true to ones’ self,” she said.
Before her recent transition to the World Maritime University in Sweden where she is a lecturer, Drewniak worked at Coast Guard Sector Miami where she made such an impact, her command nominated her for both the 2016 Capt. John G. Witherspoon Inspirational Leadership Award and the 2016 Military Times Coast Guardsman of the Year.
“I was extremely taken aback when I learned I had been nominated for both the awards,” Drewniak said. “What meant the most to me is that the people I hold in very high esteem, strive to emulate, and look up to believed I demonstrated the commitment to the service through my actions and our Coast Guard core values to nominate me.”
Although she’s proud of her accomplishments and elated to receive the awards, she gives a lot of the credit to her shipmates.
“The accomplishments highlighted in this award recognition have only come to fruition due to the tremendous efforts and hard work of numerous members in Miami,” Drewniak said.
While stationed in Miami, Drewniak worked with Senior Chief Petty Officer Matt Couling to create a mentoring program. The pair previously served together at Coast Guard Sector Northern New England and began setting up a mentoring program there, however both transferred before it got too far off the ground.
“The mentorship program at Sector Miami has done more than simply pair up a mentor with a junior member seeking career and personal advice,” said Drewniak, who was Sector Miami’s mentoring coordinator. “It sought to get mentor training for new mentors, pair up mentors with mentees, and run quarterly mentorship and leadership workshops for all Sector personnel.”
To ensure all mentors were armed with the best leadership skills and qualities, Drewniak worked with the Coast Guard’s Leadership and Development Center to provide a leadership workshop and developed a mentorship workshop.
The Sector Miami’s mentoring program didn’t stop in Miami, however. The program has provided workshops for 52 Coast Guard members across the Coast Guard’s 7th District, which covers South Carolina and most of Florida and Georgia. Best practices have also been shared with Coast Guard sectors in the Midwest and West Coast.
Drewniak said one of the best success stories of the mentoring program for her was helping a shipmate who was struggling in her current work assignment.
“She was a rising success and it would have been most unfortunate to see her depart the service and loose her talents,” Drewniak said.
Drewniak discussed a new career path with her shipmate and helped her with the necessary changes to her resume to obtain a new position. She was ultimately assigned to a new position in the Coast Guard’s prevention field.
“We were able to retain a great service member and help her achieve success and happiness,”Drewniak said.
Drewniak also worked as the chairman of the sector’s Leadership Diversity Advisory Council (LDAC).
“While the Coast Guard still faces a skewed ratio of men to women, especially at the upper ranks of the organization, it is a service that women can be on equal footing and make a real contribution,” said Drewniak. “I, along with a key group of amazing men and women at Sector Miami, put together events such as a Day of Leadership to encourage women to find balance within their career in the service.”
Drewniak said the LDAC also capitalized on the mentoring program to include leadership luncheon discussions. One of the discussions was how to improve the relationships between the junior officers and senior enlisted members.
“This is critically important so that each community understands the needs of others and can help each other be successful,” said Drewniak. “It also fosters an environment of mutual respect.”
In addition to leading the LDAC and mentoring program, she also pursued another passion: helping her shipmates achieve their personal fitness goals.
Drewniak worked with Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Couling to create Green Water Crossfit, a dedicated crossfit gym at the Coast Guard base in Miami, and boot camp fitness classes. Both programs offer structured fitness classes to Coast Guard personnel free of charge.
Drewninak said the program helped influence the health and well-being of Coast Guard personnel, which is particularly important since staying healthy is an integral part in the Coast Guard’s job performance requirements.
“I am inspired by the tremendous men and women I am fortunate enough to be able to serve with,” Drewniak said. “I have been honored to have great mentors throughout my Coast Guard career and now it’s my turn to make sure I do all I can to leave the Coast Guard better than when I came in so I can look back on my days and know I did all I could to help bring out the best in others, make their personal and professional lives the best they can be, and help achieve a work-life balance that brings both happiness and prosperity in their personal and professional achievements.”
In addition to receiving the Inspirational Leadership award, Drewniak was honored as the 2016 Military Times Coast Guardsman of the Year during an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., July 14, 2016.
The Inspirational Leadership Awards are sponsored by the Coast Guard’s Office of Leadership and serve to recognize those Coast Guard men and women who demonstrate proficiency in leadership and best exemplify the Coast Guard’s core values of values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.