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Founded by Dennis “DB” Brouwer and “JP” Kelly, the company takes its name from their shared experiences as members of Crew 11, flying anti-submarine missions from the flight deck of USS RANGER (CV-61) during the height of the Cold War.
Here’s the premise…what if we could design a thirty-year long, double blind test that examined the effectiveness of fundamental leadership behaviors? We would begin by selecting two individuals with virtually identical backgrounds and establishing a baseline of leadership behaviors by immersing them, together, in an unforgiving environment focused on teamwork, decision-making, communications and motivation, and no control over their mission, environment, compensation, or team composition.
After five years in this intensive leadership lab, making decisions that ranged from the mundane to life-and-death, phase two of our test would require us to separate the subjects and release them into the world for the “lab” portion of our study. Finally, after spending a significant part of their careers on parallel tracks, our leaders would be interviewed, their results and methods studied, and the results, published.
Farfetched? Maybe. Fascinating? Absolutely. That, in a nutshell, is the story of Crew11.
Jim “JP” Kelly and Dennis “DB” Brouwer served together in Air Antisubmarine Squadron 21 (VS-21) aboard USS Ranger, flying fleet defense missions in the S3 Viking during the height of the Cold War. They were two of the four members of Crew 11, hunting for Soviet fast attack nuclear submarines in the north Arabian Sea for two years in the early 1980’s.
After going their separate ways in 1983, JP continued on in the Navy, building a 26-year career that included three command tours and rising to the rank of Captain. As Commanding Officer 0f Sea Control Squadron Four One, JP led a highly successful turnaround in Naval Aviator training production that was heralded as the model for the Navy. While serving as Commodore, Sea Control Wing, US Pacific Fleet, he led the unprecedented deployment of all assigned squadrons following 9/11.
DB chose a different path, earning an MBA at Texas A&M, leaving the Navy in 1987 to join IBM, and building a 26 year career in high-tech product management. His parallel leadership experience includes co-founding a software start-up backed by top venture capital firms, three successful business turnarounds, and eventually rising to the position of Senior Vice President, Products and Marketing, Enterprise and International Markets at CenturyLink, the 3rd largest telecom in America.
For 30 years, DB and JP were on separate but parallel paths. Re-united via LinkedIn in 2013, they quickly discovered that they had encountered virtually identical leadership, organizational, and personal challenges along the way. Even more strikingly, the two had taken identical approaches to developing leaders, crafting solutions, and turning organizations into winners by leading from the front.
Dennis Brouwer is co-founder and managing partner of Crew11, a business services firm focused on executive leadership and team development. He is a member of the International Coach Federation and a graduate of the Leadership Coaching Certification program offered by Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership. Prior to becoming a leadership coach, Dennis served as senior vice president, Products and Marketing, for Enterprise and International Markets at CenturyLink Business. In that role he was responsible for leading a group of 130 product and marketing professionals, and providing cloud and networking solutions to customers generating $3b in global enterprise revenue. He has also worked in leadership, sales, and marketing roles at other industry leaders, including Savvis, CompuServe, and IBM.
Prior to joining IBM, Dennis served as a Naval Flight Officer in the US Navy, including five years as a carrier-based anti-submarine mission commander and three years as a faculty advisor at Texas A&M. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Minnesota and a Masters in Business Administration from Texas A&M University. He grew up in a small town in southwestern Minnesota and is an avid home-brewer. He lives with his wife, two horses, and three dogs on a small farm near Purcellville, VA.
J.P. Kelly is co-founder and managing partner of Crew11, a business services firm focused on executive leadership and team development. J.P. has over thirty-five years of professional leadership experience. Prior to his retirement as a US Navy Captain, he led three operational commands and served as a pilot in a variety of aviation, shipboard and staff assignments. His senior leadership roles provided extensive experience guiding and mentoring the leadership and career development of naval officers, enlisted personnel and students.
While serving as Commander, Sea Control Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, he led six squadrons in the US and Japan ensuring the training and readiness of over 2300 personnel and 63 aircraft. As wing commander, J.P. was also responsible for the maintenance and logistical support of four other type wings with over 200 fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
J.P. twice served as the commanding officer of carrier aviation squadrons making numerous overseas deployments in support of US peacetime and combat operations. He has logged over 4500 flight hours in more than a dozen aircraft and made over 600 carrier arrested landings.
His major staff assignments include duty on the Joint Chiefs of Staff where he served as both an assistant Deputy Director of Operations and an Emergency Actions Officer in the National Military Command Center during Operation Desert Storm. His work involved the use of strategic command and control systems as well as preparing and providing post-event debriefs to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
After leaving active duty, J.P. took a supervisory position with St Mary’s County, MD to establish a secondary school leadership and citizenship development naval science program. J.P. and his wife also own and operate two businesses in southern Maryland.
J.P. has earned a bachelors degree from the University of Kansas. He holds an advanced Instructor certification through the Naval Service Training Command. He continues his professional participation in various military associations and previously served on the board of directors of a national educational foundation and now serves on the board for a national Naval Aviation Association. J.P. was raised in a small Kansas town and now resides with his wife in rural southern Maryland. He enjoys classic cars and travel.