NOAA 2000-R815
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani


The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded its Gold Medal for Leadership to Rear Admiral Evelyn J. Fields, director of the NOAA Commissioned Corps and Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. Fields was cited for her outstanding leadership, initiative and dedication in advancing public awareness of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's mission and accomplishments; inspiring and assisting minorities and women to seek careers in science, mathematics, and other technical fields; and improving the diversity and quality of work life for her employees.

Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta presented the award to Fields on Sept. 13 during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Fields has blazed a number of trails throughout her career in the NOAA Corps. Most notably, she was the first woman, and first African American, to be appointed to her current position, and was the first woman to command a federal ship for an extended period at sea. She has served as a role model for what can be accomplished by sustained hard work, dedication to duty, and personal and professional excellence. Since becoming director of the NOAA Corps, she has visited numerous educational and career development organizations, sharing her ideals and inspiring young people to pursue the education needed to achieve their goals; met with managers at the U.S. Department of Education to discuss organizational challenges; and within her own workforce created and established a strategic plan that focuses in part on improving diversity and quality of work life in the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.

Fields currently lives in Gaithersburg, Md. She is a native of Norfolk, Va., where her mother, Jerlean Fields, still resides. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics (1970) from Norfolk State College. In 1999, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation awarded Fields its prestigious Ralph M. Metcalfe Health, Education and Science award.

The Secretary of Commerce grants the Gold Medal – the Department's highest honorary award – for extraordinary achievements in support of the Department's critical objectives. These achievements have a significant beneficial effect on the nation, and sometimes the world.