Kathleen Donnelly Receives the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Deputy Commander Tom Rudowsky presents the Department of the Navy (DON) Superior Civilian Service Award to NAWCAD Lakehurst Executive Director Kathleen Donnelly during her retirement celebration on March 21. This is the second highest honorary award under the DON Civilian Awards program. (U.S. Navy photo) 

NAWCAD Lakehurst Executive Director Kathleen P. Donnelly retires after 39+ year career

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst Executive Director Kathleen P. Donnelly is retiring on March 30 after nearly 40 years of service supporting the warfighter.

“Kathy has steered the ship for us at Lakehurst, leading our command’s Support Equipment and Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Group. She has been directly responsible for spearheading all Lakehurst mission functions, including its labs and facilities, while providing capability development and sustainment to the fleet, with over 1,800 teammates and a budget of more than $1 billion,” said NAWCAD Executive Director Stephen Cricchi. “Her contributions to our warfare center will be felt both here and across our fleet for generations to come.”   

Arriving at Lakehurst in November 1984 with a plan to stay only a few years, Donnelly has helped guide Lakehurst through several critical stages while overseeing the development of countless examples of cutting-edge technology. Under her watch, Lakehurst team members developed the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), groundbreaking components on the new Ford Class aircraft carriers.  

The development of these systems has also led to physical changes at Lakehurst, namely the construction of the EMALS test facility and the integration of the AAG systems into the Jet Car Track Test and Runway Arrested Landing sites. She also advanced Naval Aviation’s additive manufacturing, remote tech assistance, cybersecurity, and aircraft diagnostics capabilities.   

“I am extremely proud of the team and their dedication to supporting our Sailors and Marines,” said Donnelly. “The constant at Navy Lakehurst has been the culture of the people and the Naval family atmosphere. We are one team, working together, to support the mission, and I could not be prouder of that.”  

Donnelly also oversaw operations at NAWCAD Lakehurst during the COVID-19 pandemic and led NAWCAD Lakehurst during the transition to the Navy component of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.   

A champion for diversity and inclusion, Donnelly is a founding member of Naval Air System Command’s Women’s Initiative Network and the outgoing Executive Champion for the LGBTQ+A Diversity Action Team.  

Donnelly’s contributions also extend beyond Lakehurst’s walls. She has been an active member of the Lakehurst Small Business Roundtable, leading to small business contracts totaling more than $1 billion supporting Lakehurst’s mission. Under her leadership, Lakehurst helped establish the Liberty Tech Bridge connecting NAWCAD Lakehurst, Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia, and Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific Cyber Engineering and Integration, bringing together regional government, industry, and academia to foster an ecosystem of innovation.  

Donnelly received the 2019 Presidential Rank Award and was recently awarded the Department of the Navy (DON) Superior Civilian Service Award, the second highest honorary award under the DON Civilian Awards program.  

A chemical engineering graduate of Villanova University, Donnelly earned a master’s degree in business administration from Monmouth University.    

Following Donnelly’s retirement, Jack Martenak, NAWCAD Lakehurst’s Technical Director and Chief Engineer, will serve as acting executive director until a permanent replacement is named.  



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