Capt. John Brabazon, NAS Patuxent River commanding officer, presented Courtney Hillery, Pax River Child and Youth Programs (CYP) director with the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award at the Child Development Center June 28.
Hillery was presented the award following a fire drill at the center, and her award citation was read over the intercom for all staff and children to hear by NAS Patuxent River Executive Officer Capt. Derrick Kingsley.
“For meritorious service from March 2020 to December 2020 as the Naval Air Station Patuxent River Installation Child and Youth Programs Director,” read Kingsley, “Ms. Hillery displayed exceptional leadership kills, extensive knowledge, and the ability to adapt during an unprecedented time. Under her leadership, the naval air station mission-critical patrons continued to receive the highest quality of childcare available, meeting the needs and general return to work requirements. Her impact across the command is profound through additional involvement in the command resiliency team, DECOS process, Extremism Stand Down, and ongoing expansion of our culture of excellence application.”
Hillery’s steadfast leadership of Pax River’s CYP during the height of the COVID pandemic was most noteworthy. At the onset of increased Health Protection Conditions at Pax River, CYPs were restricted to mission-critical patrons. Hillery and her team displayed good order and discipline, drawing down the number of children in care across three CYP centers to safe levels. During these unprecedented times, Hillery kept the safety of CYP’s children and staff as her top priority, resulting in continuous operations through a global pandemic.
She continued to work with the Pax River Public Health Emergency Officer on updated CYP guidelines and gradually increased enrollment numbers safely. Additionally, she worked diligently with Naval District Washington and Commander, Naval Installations Command to secure support of expanding after-school youth center capacity by more than 100 spaces, reducing the bottleneck between the Child Development Center and Youth Center in support of the “continuity of care” objective.
“This award really means a lot, but I’m only as good as my team,” said Hillery after the award ceremony. “And I have a tremendous team. This is a reflection on all of their work to make the Child and Youth Programs what it is.”