The USNA Laundry and Dry Cleaning Facility is a thriving business all its own. With hulking washing machines and dryers, multiple presses, a steam tunnel, dry cleaning machines and the apparatus to move mountains of laundry, the sheer volume of items that it processes daily boggles the mind. Over 1.5 million pounds of laundry and dry cleaning move through that space every year. For nearly 43 years, Lisa Edwards has been a big part of the team that makes it all happen, and she makes it look easy. Edwards is an extraordinary woman in many ways. For her work and dedication, she was recently recognized as an Outstanding Service Member in the 2021 Secretary of Defense Disability Awards ceremony.
Laundry Loads: Taming Thousands of Towels
Lisa operates a number of different machines at the U.S. Naval Academy’s state-of-the-art laundry facilities. She and the Laundry team are responsible for cleaning the uniforms, towels and linens, and physical education gear for about 4,400 midshipmen, as well as the people who support the Brigade of Midshipmen, the NABSD and other Service Organizations (such as the Barber Shop, Naval Academy Club, Brigade Dental, etc) and any active duty military or civilian faculty and staff working at USNA and NSA Annapolis. If you want to see what an operation of this scope looks like, you can take a brief virtual tour of the facilities.
Lisa is an expert at operating the towel folder. There are over 26,000 towels that come through the facility on a regular basis, and she keeps up with all of them. “Her unbelievable drive and determination are inspirational,” the award states. "Lisa Edwards is truly a wonderful representative of the Naval Academy. Over her nearly 43 years, Lisa has excelled personally and professionally. She is loved by her coworkers and comes to work each and every day with an incredibly positive outlook and a desire to do her very best.”
Special Olympics Success
These accolades are not surprising when you know about her accomplishments in the Special Olympics. Edwards typically competes in track and field events in these highly anticipated competitions. She even carries a special track and field memory everywhere with her—a photo of herself with Eunice Kennedy Shriver from one of the first Special Olympics competitions, tucked into her wallet. “She approaches her job the same way she approaches competition as a decorated Special Olympian—as an opportunity to excel. Lisa is truly a special woman who is deserving of recognition for a lifetime of service to the DoD," notes her award.
The DoD Outstanding Employees with Disabilities Award
Every year, the Department of Defense honors its values of diversity, equity and inclusion by recognizing employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their work. This year, the all-DoD award was presented at the virtual 41st DoD Disability Awards Ceremony on Thursday, October 7th, 2021. You can find Edwards’ presentation at the 35 minute mark. Guest speakers CWO-2 Chris McGrath, U.S. Army (ret) and SSG Travis Mills, U.S. Army (ret) anchored this incredible event. Lisa received the award for “outstanding service and notable achievements as a department of defense civilian.”
During the award ceremony, Mr. Clarence Johnson, Director, Diversity Management Operations Center said, “Disabled individuals have lent talents, time, effort and ingenuity to departments and have gone above and beyond a typical workday. They create a better and more positive work environment for us all. Their skills and talents will continue to advance the mission of the DoD and the Federal workforce.”
We couldn’t agree more. The US Naval Academy’s Laundry and Dry Cleaning Facility is fortunate to have Edwards. We offer our heartfelt congratulations to her and all of her fellow award recipients, who have collectively served the DoD in many significant ways throughout the years. We are so grateful for their work and recognize Lisa’s outstanding service to the midshipmen, the faculty, staff and to all of us here. If you see Lisa, please join in congratulating her!