April 20, 2022
Members of Business Executives for National Security (BENS) and guests from across the nation gathered April 20th for its presentation of the spring 2022 Eisenhower Award. The event honored General Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), Carol B. Tomé of UPS, and William J. Flynn formerly of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings for their extraordinary leadership in business and national security.
BENS President and CEO, General Joseph Votel, U.S. Army (ret.), emphasized the importance of global mobility and logistical systems that enable a prosperous and secure nation. “America’s strength in this vital arena isn’t an accident. It’s because of the people in charge of it: innovative leaders who are constantly motivated to find ways of doing things better,” Votel said. He thanked the honorees for their vital contributions to our nation which reflect the spirit of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s vision of national security as the work of a whole society.
Honorees took part in a fireside chat moderated by novelist and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. The discussion explored topics including supply chain resilience, how data, automation and drones are remaking the logistics business, and the ongoing efforts to provide military and humanitarian support to Ukraine.
William J. Flynn
Over a career spanning 40 years, Bill Flynn held top management positions at leading aviation, rail, and maritime companies. He currently serves as senior adviser to Amtrak, after serving as CEO of “America’s Railroad” from April 2020 to January 2022. Flynn previously spent 15 years at Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, a global air freight company serving the military and passenger charter markets and a leading carrier in the Civil Reserve Air Fleet.
Flynn’s successor at Atlas Air, current CEO John Dietrich, presented the award to Flynn in recognition for guiding Amtrak through the pandemic with swift safety measures and state-of-the-art technology, and in celebration of his lengthy career advancing accessible and sustainable transportation. Flynn described the award as a testament to the perseverance of frontline employees. “In our service industry, and of course in the armed forces, everyone had to suit up and show up throughout the COVID pandemic” even while the threats were not fully understood, Flynn said, adding that the pandemic is inspiring deeper appreciation for essential workers.
Carol B. Tomé
Carol B. Tomé is the Chief Executive Officer of UPS, the multinational shipping and supply chain management company. She is the 12th CEO in the 114-year history of the company. Tomé previously served as chief financial officer of Home Depot, where she oversaw the retailer’s growth from 400 stores to 22,000 while generating record sales and profits. She recently was named Fortune Magazine’s 4th Most Powerful Woman in Business.
The award was presented to Tomé by BENS member Connie Engel, who celebrated the precision and composure with which she led UPS to be an indispensable partner that shipped worldwide more than one billion vaccines and lifesaving masks, ventilators and protective gear throughout the pandemic. In accepting the award, Tomé credited the resilience of the company’s workforce and the harnessing of new technologies which have positioned UPS at the forefront of the logistics industry. “Our 534,000 UPSers around the world deliver five percent of U.S. GDP every day — and two percent of global GDP every day,” Tomé said. “We have learned over the past two years that supply chains are changing rapidly, and the biggest challenge is determining how we can push faster into that change through automation and technology.”
General Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, USAF
General Jacqueline D. Van Ovost is the 14th Commander of U.S. Transportation Command, one of 11 combatant commands in the Department of Defense. USTRANSCOM’s mission is to project and sustain military power globally in order to assure our friends and allies, deter potential adversaries, and if necessary, respond to win decisively. General Van Ovost is an aeronautical engineer and a command pilot with more than 4,200 hours in more than 30 aircraft. Among her many staff and joint assignments, she previously served as Vice Director of the Joint Staff and Director of Mobility Forces for U.S. Central Command. She is one of only three female four-star generals to assume the leadership of a Combatant Command.
Presenting the award to General Van Ovost was former BENS President and CEO, General Norton Schwartz, U.S. Air Force (ret.), who commended the commander for helping the nation mobilize in times of crisis and enabling the U.S. military to project our power and protect our interests. Accepting the award on behalf of the 122,000 personnel of USTRANSCOM, General Van Ovost thanked the men and women who make possible a capable and ready transportation system for national security. “It's the men and women of the armed forces, their leadership, initiative, and ability to move on their commander’s intent that makes all the difference. We have the very best talent in America and we bring that talent into the armed forces to do amazing things,” General Van Ovost said.
Also honored were three USTRANSCOM service members in attendance as special guests who were recognized for their dedication and service. General Votel and General Van Ovost thanked Sergeant First Class Kimberly King, Lieutenant (JG) William Peterson, and Lieutenant Colonel Shannon Walker for representing excellence in the diverse mission set that USTRANSCOM executes every day.
In closing, General Votel thanked the event’s participants and sponsors and congratulated the honorees and special guests for providing the seamless logistical systems that enables and maintains the U.S. competitive edge in the global marketplace.
The next presentation of the BENS Eisenhower Awards will take place on October 28, 2022, in conjunction with our 40th anniversary forum, Stronger Together.
For more about this awards program, visit About the Eisenhower Award.