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Family, equality are at the core of DIA’s new command senior enlisted leader

By Tiffany Rose Miller, DIA Public Affairs

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Former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr. welcomed Command Master Chief Laura Nunley, DIA’s 22nd command senior enlisted leader, in an email to the workforce in June 2020.

 The CSEL provides leadership and mentorship to the workforce, but also advises the director in partnership with the deputy director and chief of staff. Duties include promoting command policy and upholding and enforcing the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.

 The Office of Corporate Communications recently had the opportunity to sit down with Nunley to get to know her a little more personally and learn how she plans to fulfill key initiatives.

 “While it’s an honor to carry out the traditional CSEL role, it’s important for me that I also champion the health and welfare of our military members, civilians, contractors and families,” said Nunley. “Family is extremely important to me and I see the DIA workforce as an extension of my own.”

 Family was also something top of mind for Nunley when she enlisted in the Navy in 1994. Not only did she seek to serve in something greater than herself, but she also knew it was important to provide for her young family. Despite having to accept that there are things a service member has no control over, Nunley told herself that she would put her family first whenever and however she could. Twenty-six years and various leadership roles later, that continues to hold true as she’s added thousands to her family.

 Nunley faces a challenge that no other CSEL before her has—reporting to the Agency during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m aware of the challenges employees and service members are facing, and that the workforce is having to balance work and family under much different circumstances,” she stated.

 As her actual family continued to grow throughout her career, work-life balance was one of Nunley’s many challenges, especially while deployed to multiple Joint assignments around the globe.  

 “We all do our best to balance things, but it can be overwhelming and sometimes we don’t get it right,” said Nunley. “We need to encourage each other and focus on the good…reach out and check on your teammates, your family, friends, and community—we will get through it together.”

 When asked who the most influential person in her life is, she responded that there have been many, especially those within the Navy who have served before her, but the most influential to Nunley is her mother.

 “She is the most resilient and humble woman you’ll ever meet and if I could just turn out a little bit like her, I think I’ve achieved success,” she added.

 Like many women, Nunley has experienced inequality firsthand. It wasn’t until 1994 that the Navy started integrating women onto ships for sea duty, and it still took Nunley three attempts before she finally received orders to a ship in 2003 where she could earn her warfare qualification, crucial to promotion. That experience is why diversity and inclusion are important values to Nunley.

 “Equality, diversity and inclusion are absolute priorities for me—they all go hand-in-hand,” said Nunley. “People from different cultures and backgrounds have different perspectives. They offer a variety of ideas and solutions leading to innovative techniques—it allows us to be the best at what we do.”

 While much is expected of her as the DIA CSEL, Nunley still makes it a point to find ways to unwind. “My husband and I love spending time seeing our children and grandchildren—albeit virtually right now,” said Nunley. “I’m also an avid golfer and really enjoy participating in tournaments.”

 When making such important decisions that impact the lives of her family, she asks herself “why.” When asked what’s her why? Why does she continue to serve? She responded, “To work for this organization and its people; to continue building a legacy within the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, and the Intelligence Community.”