Allen Meadows was only 19 when a suspension chain gave out as he worked underneath a car, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. But that incident didn't affect his passion for restoring and repairing vehicles, which he continues to do decades later in his spare time. It also didn't hurt his overall pursuit of excellence. Now deputy chief of the National Security Agency's Space Planning, Zoning, and Management Division, Meadows was among this year's recipients of Secretary of Defense Awards at the Defense Department's annual disability awards ceremony.
NSA Chief of Staff Deborah Bonanni and Allen Meadows
"NSA is a great place to work," Meadows said in an interview. "I just do my job and try to do the best that I can." He and 18 other individual awardees were recognized for outstanding contributions to national security at a Dec. 7 ceremony in Bethesda, Md.
In 2009 Meadows played a key role in creating the division where he works, which is considered the "front door" for all facilities projects at NSA. He has also helped to develop the division's strategies. Meadows oversees roughly 10 million square feet of real estate and more than 20,000 desks.
Dr. Harvey Davis, NSA's associate director for installations and logistics, nominated Meadows for the award.
"Allen is a visionary leader and imaginative problem-solver," Davis recently explained. "He willingly took on a difficult job and turned it around quickly. He's the kind of person who always aims for the best, regardless of the challenges that must be overcome."
NSA itself was one of four DoD components that received awards for outstanding achievements in the employment of people with disabilities. NSA Chief of Staff Deborah Bonanni accepted the agency's award at the ceremony, which was hosted by Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Dr. Clifford L. Stanley and Stephen M. King, who directs the department's disability programs. NSA is now DoD's "best intelligence component" in the employment of people with disabilities, the department announced.
Both awards reflect the agency's unwavering commitment to diversity, said Linda M. Grimm, NSA's director of equal employment and diversity.
"NSA offers a work environment that allows all employees, including those with disabilities, to have productive careers," she said. "People with disabilities are among the exceptional individuals who help us tackle some of the most difficult intelligence challenges facing the nation."
The annual ceremony presents an overview of the department's disability policies and initiatives, recognizes DoD organizations for their efforts in the employment of people with disabilities, and highlights the accomplishments of DoD employees and service members with disabilities.
Click here for information about NSA's Office of Disability Affairs.