Thank you, Lee [Lofthus], for those kind words – and for the opportunity to take part, once again, in this important celebration. I’d particularly like to thank you and your colleagues from the Justice Management Division – including Mari Barr Santangelo. Randy Bergquist, and Mary Jones – for all you’ve done to bring us together today, and for your commitment to ensuring the continued success of the Leadership Excellence and Achievement Program.
It’s a pleasure to stand with you – and to help welcome so many colleagues and distinguished guests to the Great Hall – as we recognize the achievements, and celebrate the contributions, of the 39 accomplished LEAP graduates who make up our Class of 2013.
Of course, before your training even began, each of you set yourself apart from your peers – and proved your abilities and leadership potential – simply by making it through the highly-competitive nomination and selection process to enroll in this program. Since then, you’ve participated in rigorous leadership exercises and challenging developmental assignments. You’ve shadowed members of the Senior Executive Service, learning a variety of personnel management techniques to help you bring out the best in yourselves and your colleagues. You’ve gained important insights into the challenges faced by senior Justice Department leaders every day, and seen the importance of ensuring that our operations are as efficient and effective as possible. And perhaps most impressively, you’ve done it all while balancing training exercises with your regular duties – in 21 different offices and components.
Now, I recognize that assuming the responsibilities that come with this type of leadership – and fulfilling the expectations that are placed on role models and mentors to other employees – is anything but easy. It constitutes an affirmation of the trust that this Department has placed in you – by investing our time, and resources, to give you the tools and training you need to grow and thrive. It signals our confidence in your abilities, and in your capacity to become integral parts of this Department for years to come. But it also confers a significant burden. It requires a great deal of hard work and perseverance. And it demands an uncommon degree of passion and commitment.
That’s why I’m so proud to note that – as individuals, and as a team – you haven’t just succeeded, you’ve thrived. You’ve come together in extraordinary ways – both in the context of this training program, and in the work you did to develop and execute the “Lead Where You Stand” learning series for more than 1,300 of your colleagues across the federal government.
Your contributions have won notice, and praise, from a variety of Justice Department offices and components. And this is why, as we gather to celebrate your graduation, I also want to take this opportunity to say “thank you” – for taking on these responsibilities; for helping us to confront the daunting challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead; and for the sacrifices that you and your families have been called to make in the name of public service.
As Attorney General, I know – and often see firsthand – the difference that talented leaders like you can make in advancing the critical work of this Department. Especially in this time of evolving global threats, growing demands, and increasingly limited resources, I know that this work – your work – has in many ways never been more difficult. But it’s also never been more important.
Put simply, you are among the most talented and dedicated public servants in all of government. And your contributions are already bolstering the Justice Department’s efforts at every level. And as we look toward the future we will build together, I want to assure each of you that you have, deserve, and can always expect my deepest gratitude and strongest support.
I’m confident that – as each of you transitions into a more senior role – your efforts will help to determine the direction that this Department will take when it comes to protecting the American people, combating terrorism, fighting against crime and corruption, safeguarding the most vulnerable members of society, and ensuring equal treatment and opportunity for all.
I hope that everything you’ve learned over the last 12 months will continue to guide and empower you long into the future. I am proud to work with – and alongside – such exceptional colleagues, and privileged to count you as partners in our ongoing pursuit of equal justice under law. I thank you, once again, for all that you do. And I look forward to everything that we must, and will, achieve together in the months and years to come.
Congratulations, Class of 2013 – and good luck.