Two Navy officers, Cmdr. Cara LaPointe and Lt. Cmdr Robert McFarlin, have been appointed as part of the 2013-2014 class of White House fellows, the White House announced Tuesday.
LaPointe and McFarlin will be part of a program created in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson as a way of giving future leaders access to the highest levels of the government. There is a competitive process to being chosen, with professional achievement, leadership potential and commitment to community service ingredients in the selection, according to a White House statement.
While the two Navy officers are the only military members in the 2013-2014 class, the 2012-2013 group of White House Fellows including an Army major, Air Force major, Coast Guard lieutenant commander and Navy lieutenant commander. Fellows are selected by commission of about 30 people of varying backgrounds.
LaPointe is part of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program, where she serves as deputy technical director providing oversight to $7 billion in shipbuilding contracts, according to the White House. An engineer, LaPointe previously worked on surface force architecture and unmanned vehicle technology integration at the Naval Sea Systems Command. She also deployed to the Persian Gulf and to the Pacific in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle.
Part of the reason she was selected is her record of community service. “An avid volunteer and humanitarian, Cara has served as an advocate for victims of sexual assault, volunteered in rural communities internationally from Honduras to Fiji, and, most recently, founded the Engineering Duty Officer Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Outreach Initiative,” the White House statement says.
LaPointe is a Naval Academy graduate who received a master’s degrees from the University of Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received her doctorate in mechanical and oceanographic engineering jointly from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
McFarlin is a Navy surface warfare officer and former commanding officer of USS Typhoon, a Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship that deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during his command.
The crew earned a Battle “E” during his command and also a Golden Anchor award for outstanding crew retention, according to the White House statement.
McFarlin is national director of the Surface Navy Association. Like LaPointe, he is a Naval Academy graduate. He received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Rochester, a school where he also has served as an assistant professor.
A volunteer mentor with Big Brother, he has been involved with Habitat for Humanity and is co-founder of TurnKey CashFlow Properties, a company that transforms dilapidated inner city properties into low-income housing, the White House statement said.