Palmer High School Alumni

Colorado Springs, Colorado (CO)

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Robert L. Gordon III

Robert L. Gordon III

Class of 1975

Robert "Rob" L. Gordon III is currently the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, effective July 19, 2010, assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

In this position, Gordon is responsible for policy, advocacy, and oversight of all community support to service members and families; quality of life issues; state liaison initiatives; family programs and the 24/7, 1-800 family assistance services; child development and youth programs; military spouse career advancement; the off-duty, voluntary education program for military personnel; tuition assistance; morale, welfare, and recreation; defense resale for commissaries and exchanges; and family violence prevention and intervention. Included within the purview of his office is advocacy for quality education for all military students and defense-wide policy responsibility for the Department of Defense Education Activity that serves approximately 84,000 students in 192 schools in 14 districts located in 12 foreign countries, seven states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. His oversight includes the Armed Forces Retirement Home, casualty and mortuary affairs, and military funeral honors.

Previously, Gordon was a senior executive at City Year, an AmeriCorps national service program engaging 17- to 24-year-olds in a year of service in 20 U.S. cities, in Johannesburg, South Africa and in London England. Gordon was also the Chair of ServiceNation: Mission Serve, an initiative within the Service Nation network that activates and convenes civilian and military leaders and organizations across the United States to more effectively focus on issues associated with Veterans, military families, and active duty service members reintegrating back into the communities across the country.[2]

Upbringing, education, and family life

Gordon was born in Richmond, Virginia, but grew up both overseas and the United States. Most of his youth was spent overseas in Taiwan and Germany, and he lived in New York, Virginia, and Colorado in the United States. He graduated in 1975 from General William J. Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is a graduate of both West Point and Princeton University.

Years in the Military

Gordon graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1979 with a BS degree and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery. He went to Ranger School after his West Point graduation and afterwards was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) near Colorado Springs, Colorado. He held numerous artillery assignments and was selected to be the Aide-de-Camp to then Brigadier General Colin Powell from 1981 -1982. After his tour at Fort Carson he attended the Field Artillery Advanced Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he was the Distinguished Graduate. Gordon then commanded an artillery unit in Bamberg, Germany, and was selected to return to West Point to teach in the Department of Social Sciences. He attended the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and earned a Masters in Public Affairs in 1989. Gordon was assigned to the Department of Social Sciences at West Point where he served as both an instructor and Assistant Professor of American Politics, and the Executive Officer of the Department. Gordon then served at a White House Fellow in Washington DC. Following his fellowship he returned to field duty at Fort Carson, and eventually was assigned to West Point at the Director of American Politics in the Department of Social Sciences. His military education includes the Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course, the United States Army Command and General Staff College and an instructor and graduate from the National War College. He also served as a Center for Public Management Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with five oak leaf clusters, the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab, and two awards of the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara.

Civilian National Service

While at West Point, Gordon co-founded and was for six years the Executive Director of Service America, a privately funded program that brought together cadets at West Point and AmeriCorps members to serve as tutors, build low income housing, and improve environmental awareness in six cities in three states. Participants served in Federal Way, Bremerton, Seattle, and Yakima in Washington State; Chicago, Illinois, and Austin, Texas.

Gordon joined City Year in 2006 after his retirement as an Army Colonel after a 26 year military career. He sat on City Year's Board of Trustees two years prior to joining the organization. Gordon was the Chief People and Program Officer and oversaw the People and Program Group to drive City Year�s cross departmental synergies and organizational alignment, accelerate growth and expansion through new site development, and increase brand awareness through social media marketing. He oversaw the recruitment, selection, education, systematic learning, and training of City Year�s 1,600 person youth corps; the continued development of City Year�s more than 12,000 alumni as �leaders for life�; and the engagement of children and teens in City Year�s service and civic leadership initiatives in 20 US cities.

As the Chair of ServiceNation: Mission Serve, Gordon led the national effort to create partnerships between civilian service and military organizations that connect the two sectors in meaningful ways; address key issues for veterans, military families and active duty service members; and develop a new generation of leaders who can operate effectively in both service sectors to address the nation�s most pressing security and policy challenges.

Throughout his career he has been involved in leadership, strategy, service, policymaking and education. From 1992 to 1993, as a White House Fellow, Gordon served in the White House as the Director of Special Operations for the Office of National Service and helped to found the AmeriCorps program. Before serving in the White House, he was the Special Assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Gordon has spent considerable time abroad researching national service systems, and was a member of a U.S. citizen�s delegation to Italy in 1997 to assist in reforming Italy�s national service system. In 2006 he was a member of the American Jewish Committee Task Force that recommended a new national service strategy for the United States.

Gordon is a member of the French-American Foundation and selected to its Young Leaders Program in 1994. He served as a Center for Public Management Fellow at the Brookings Institution in 1996, and is also a former President of the West Point-Highland Falls Rotary Club and the recipient of Rotary�s Distinguished Presidential Citation. In 2006 he was the recipient of Princeton University�s Edward P. Bullard Distinguished Alumnus Award, and he was recently the recipient of the Bernard Gill Urban Service-Learning Leadership Award from Youth Service America.

A featured speaker on service and leadership, Gordon sat on several boards throughout his career, including the Board of Directors of the French American Foundation, SeaChange Capital, and Be the Change; the advisory boards of the Girls Action Network and GreaterThan; the advisory committees of America Forward and the Citizenship Program of the McCormick Foundation; and is the member of the Partnership in Boston. He served as the Practitioner in Residence at Princeton University�s Woodrow Wilson School from 2007 to 2008; and is also a member of Pi Sigma Alpha and the Civic Ventures� Encore Leadership Network.

Military Alumni

Military High School Alumni

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