About the Achievement Awards

In 2010, the INSA Board of Directors established the INSA Achievement Awards to recognize the accomplishments of young professionals (GS-13/O-3/E-6 or equivalent and below with the exception of the Joan A. Dempsey Mentorship Award) in intelligence and national security as well as the mentors who have inspired them. INSA strongly believes it is worthwhile to formally and publicly acknowledge early achievers; in many cases, the Achievement Awards represent the first formal recognition the recipients have received. Six awards, named after previous William Oliver Baker Award winners, are presented to acknowledge the importance of mentorship and inspire young professionals to strive for excellence in the intelligence, homeland security and national security communities.

Although missions and requirements differ in each of the individual categories, common areas of excellence include: leadership, potential for growth, impact on the profession, mission accomplishment, and emerging professional standing and influence. The seven current awards are listed below:

  • Joan A. Dempsey Mentorship Award

    • Open to all public, private and academic elements up to and including GS-15/O-6 and equivalent rank
  • Sidney D. Drell Academic Award
    • Graduate students and untenured professors 
  • Richard J. Kerr Government Award

    • Civilian government employees up to/including GS-13 and equivalent rank
  • Edwin H. Land Industry Award

    • Contractor/non-government employees
  • William O. Studeman Military Award
    • Uniformed military up to/including O-3 and equivalent enlisted rank
  • John W. Warner Homeland Security Award

    • First responders and domestic government employees up to and including GS-13 and equivalent rank

Process and Selection Criteria:

In late spring or early summer of each year, INSA sends out a call for nominations to government, academia and industry membership. Individuals should be nominated by their organizations based on their early and significant contribution to intelligence and national security and/or encouraging and inspiring their colleagues to strive for excellence in these fields. Selection is based on overall performance during the previous twelve (12) months and is based on existing information. The following criteria are to be considered:

1. Leadership – performance that exemplifies the ability to work across organizational boundaries, understands national security and intelligence priorities, and meets the wide-ranging requirements of mission objectives.

2. Influence – the ability to influence others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction and motivation.

3. Proficiency – the nominee is continually learning and is technically and tactically competent.

4. Values – the nominee is committed to the value of diversity, and encourages initiative, innovation, collaboration, resourcefulness and resilience.

5. Team-building – the nominee develops cross-functional and cross-organizational teams that anticipate requirements and exercises initiative within the director’s intent.

6. Personal – the nominee exhibits intangible aspect of leadership relating to people, skills, interpersonal communication skills, and the quality of the leadership climate; for example, the ability to understand human nature (empathy) and the ability to gain consensus among diverse groups.

Once the call for nominations has gone out, agencies and companies may submit up to three nominations from their organization (for the homeland security award, DHS may submit up to five nominations) by completing in full a nomination form, which will be made available for download upon the annual call for nominations. Up to five letters of support may be submitted for each candidate in addition to the nomination form (optional). Each year, all nomination packages must be submitted to achievement@insaonline.org.

Classified Nomination Packages:

The nature of Intelligence Community means that effective consideration may involve classified information. The INSA Achievement Awards Selection Committee members are cleared and able to consider classified nomination packages, and arrangements can be made in advance to ensure all classified nominations are appropriately handled. Email achievement@insaonline.org to request arrangements be made to submit a classified nomination package.

Please note that in ALL cases the award citations and the awards ceremony will be unclassified. Should an individual with a classified nomination be selected as an award recipient, they must be able to provide their full name and an unclassified award citation with sufficient detail to justify in a public forum INSA granting this award. INSA reserves the right to revoke an award if an unclassified citation cannot be provided.


Past Achievement Awards Recipients:

Past Achievement Awards recipients represent a broad range of agencies, organizations, academic institutions and geographic locations. Previous recipients have deployed to Kenya, Kazakhstan and the Middle East, and several served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those selected in past years include a 9/11 first responder, intelligence analysts tracking drug traffickers and known terrorists and industry consultants working in tandem with intelligence agencies to improve national threat assessment capabilities and provide technical support to war fighters in the field. Academic recipients have participated in research aimed at protecting maritime borders from narcotics traffickers, while past military recipients worked in support of intelligence agencies to coordinate and provide timely intelligence analysis to decision makers. In all these cases, INSA’s past Achievement Awards recipients represent the backbone of our current national security efforts and the future of our intelligence leadership.