Alumnus Roberto Concepcion '05 receives Coast Guard Inspirational Leadership Award

An Alcornite’s leadership skills were recently highlighted for his work with the United States military.

Lieutenant Commander Roberto Concepcion won the Captain John G. Witherspoon Inspirational Leadership Award – Active Duty during the 2022 Coast Guard Inspirational Leadership Awards. The awards recognize Coast Guard personnel who exemplify the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. Additionally, the awards recognize up-and-coming leaders whose actions inspire their shipmates while advancing the Coast Guard’s service to the nation.

Concepcion serves as chief of Response for the U. S. Coast Guard. He is a 15-year Coast Guard veteran. In his career, Concepcion served as a White House Military Social Aide under 44th President Barack Obama's Administration. He received a master's degree in international relations and affairs from Salve Regina University in 2016 and a master's degree in national security and strategic studies from U. S. Navel War College in 2015. He earned a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Alcorn in 2005.

The award is significant for Concepcion. The honor allows him to acknowledge those who have supported and encouraged him on his journey to prominence.

“I could not have received this award alone,” said Concepcion. “Success isn’t achieved independently; success can only be achieved with the help and support of those who have mentored me, as it is truly about the village of mentors who have helped me grow. This award was my way of thanking and honoring those who continue to face obstacles while pursuing senior leadership positions. This award means that I’m obligated to continue learning and growing within my professional development. It’s a commitment to giving back what has been given to me so generously in mentoring and support.”

The leadership skills that Concepcion possesses were instilled in him by those who prepared him to succeed at this high level. He credits his mentors for pushing him to soar past his potential.

“My mentors and the exceptional team of leaders that I work with inspired me to be better, and I have taken everything I know from them. I am humbled and honored to be recognized in this way. I was a bit stunned by my nomination and selection because I feel that many leaders in our service are worthy of this award. However, I express my gratitude to my peers and senior leaders who are doing their part to inspire others. I am pleased to receive this award.”

Concepcion summarized what he feels good leadership means.

“Being a good leader means positively empowering other people's current and future lives. Your decisions will impact those who follow you and, in many cases, their families. A good leader possesses professionalism, a capacity for continued personal and professional growth, an ability to adapt, emotional intelligence, and the ability to create psychologically safe spaces for personnel to be themselves.”

He continued, “A good leader creates a climate where their people are empowered to excel. A good leader understands the team dynamic and emphasizes selfless leadership without waiting for a reward. Good leaders are also courageous, willing to take well-reasoned risks, and embrace productive conflict resolution. A good leader is willing to challenge the norm, embrace innovation, and support diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Aside from leadership, making a significant difference in the lives of the American people is what Concepcion loves most about his career.

“The United States Coast Guard has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life because of the people I have met along the way and the impact we have serving the American public. I enjoy being part of our team of professionals who save lives, conduct presidential security, respond to natural disasters, and protect our waterways from terrorist attacks. I’ve also enjoyed helping and mentoring others to achieve their goals within the organization.”

Paying it forward by uplifting future leaders is Concepcion’s goal.

“I’d like to build my professional skills while taking on challenging assignments that allow me to work with larger teams to continue advancing as a leader. I enjoy mentoring and leading a team more than working individually, so I want to bring up the next generation of minority leaders within our organization through mentorship and providing opportunities for them to succeed.”