Labs’ former global security director recognized for leadership and service
Rodney Wilson, former director of Sandia’s Center for Global Security and Cooperation, received the NNSA Administrator’s Distinguished Service Gold Award this year in recognition of his leadership and service to advance NNSA programs.
The plaque, signed by former NNSA Administrator and DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, recognized Rodney’s contributions to programs focused on improving the security of the United States and creating a more peaceful international community and thanked him for his service to NNSA, DOE and the nation.
“Rodney Wilson is so deserving of this award,” said Gary Laughlin, director of asset security and WMD response at Sandia. “It’s a recognition of his intellect applied to, and for, NNSA’s broad missions underpinned by a well-managed career in which he materially contributed to nuclear weapons, independent analysis, nuclear emergency response, nuclear security, defense nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear policy and engineering sciences — all while working at Sandia. His is an example of the opportunity available to all Sandia employees, whether they choose to focus deeply in a given area or to contribute by integrating across multiple programs and disciplines for an entire career.”
Labs Director James Peery virtually presented the award to Rodney during Sandia’s Fall Leader-ship session.
“It was unexpected, wonderful, really rewarding for me and humbling,” Rodney said. “I want to share my thanks with those responsible for the nomination and the many people I’ve had the privilege to work with during my 40-year career.”
As the director of Sandia’s Center for Global Security and Cooperation, Rodney led work to develop systems engineering and technology solutions for government agencies responsible for nonproliferation and arms control, cooperative threat reduction and international security. He was responsible for conducting independent studies and analyses of issues affecting U.S. security, and for providing strategic program integration, decision making and other technical support to NNSA’s Defense Programs leadership.
Rodney said one of the defining moments of his career came in 2001 when NNSA was created. He was asked, along with representatives from Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories, to help shape what NNSA would become.
“We were led by John Harvey, and the four of us, from day one, were providing the first briefing for NNSA Administrator John Gordon to take to the president,” Rodney said. “Our organization also created the first five-year budget for NNSA and helped set things in motion. It was a really exciting time.”
Another highlight, Rodney said, was working with (former Sandia vice presidents) Steve Rottler and Mike Hazen to help define what leadership should look like at Sandia. In essence, he said, it comes down to three things:
- A personal commitment to national service, something Rodney said he has felt strongly about throughout his career and has come from his heart.
- Sandia’s reputation for delivering results.
- Relationships built on trust.
These three attributes, Rodney said, helped guide his career. He advised the next generation of Sandia employees to focus on partnerships and teamwork to help grow their careers.
“I can’t think of many accomplishments I achieved by myself during my career. Most of what we do at Sandia is not done by single individuals; it’s a partnership between Sandia employees, people at other labs and our sponsors,” Rodney said. “Those partnerships are so powerful. You can get so much done if you think about how to strengthen your relationships with others, and that is where trust is crucial.”
Rodney retired in March and hopes to be able to come back to Sandia in the future, to mentor new employees.