Because of hard work, selflessness and dedication, Capt. Joseph Stenger III, 62nd Fighter Squadron F-35 Lightning II instructor pilot, was awarded the National Public Service Award Monday from the American Society for Public Administration and the National Academy of Public Administration.
“I won it as an individual but the NAPA Award represents so much more than any one person’s actions,” Stenger said. “I’m humbled and honored to be the one receiving the award, but our team knows it is just as much theirs as it is mine.”
Stenger serves as a co-founder and chief executive officer for the online business, Flying Scarfs, which assists widowed women in war-torn Parwan Province, Afghanistan. The company sells handcrafted scarfs made by women in the province in an effort to provide a “hand up” rather than a “handout.”
In 2011, Stenger deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Stenger and three other officers, Capt. Ryan Bodenheimer, Thunderbirds pilot, Maj. Joshua Carroll, intelligence reservist, and Capt. John Hudgins, 335th FS F-15E instructor pilot at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, came together to help the people of the province in a way other than engaging the Taliban.
The officers began the nonprofit organization, which has now spread to Haiti and Kenya, with all proceeds going to the women in these underdeveloped countries. They hope to promote microeconomic development throughout the world providing women opportunities to succeed.
“To date, Flying Scarfs has grown in its proceeds by 100 percent and the organization now has more than 100 women working, giving these women an opportunity to provide a better life for their families,” Stenger said.
In a part of the world where women fill the role of cook and mother and who have lost almost everything, they have found the strength to step forward and have broken a barrier for women that’s been in place for thousands of years by creating a business for themselves.
“When you combine something you’re passionate about with service, you can change the world,” Stenger said. “That passion will take you beyond what you think is possible for yourself.”
The award was established to honor individuals who make outstanding contributions and whose accomplishments can be viewed as models of public service within and outside the work environment.
NPSA winners will be those who have, on a sustained basis, done some or all of the following:
• Made a profound difference in improving service to the public
• Been willing to take risks to achieve change
• Fostered a more democratic society
• Served as a champion of social equity
• Changed the way a governmental organization operates so that it better achieves its goals
• Achieved substantial savings in government operations
• Developed a cadre of other government leaders
• Previous nominees may be renominated provided they meet the provisions of this announcement and their nominations are updated to include their latest achievements.