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ASPIRE program primes future FSS ambassadors

ASPIRE program participants with ASPIRE program manager

Sherita Smith (far left), ASPIRE program manager, recognizes participants during a completion ceremony Nov. 4 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Pictured are: Sarah Burkhart (front), Community Services. Back row, from left: Latonya Johnson, Force Development; Theodore Thomas, Resources; Raymond Owens, Operations; and Aleah Corbitt, Child and Youth Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Megan Mudersbach)

ASPIRE participant at Airmen & Family Readiness Center table

Theodore Thomas, an accounting technician with 88th Force Support Squadron Resources and ASPIRE program participant, gets firsthand experience with the Airman & Family Readiness Center as he reviews an informational table. The ASPIRE program is an Air Force Materiel Command initiative that exposes participants to the FSS portfolio over 12 weeks in an effort to prepare them for future leadership roles. (Contributed photo)

ASPIRE participant with 88 FSS Workforce Development Section personnel.

Latonya Johnson, a training administrator with the 88th Force Support Squadron’s Force Development Section, shadows Mike King, human resources specialist for the 88 FSS Workforce Development Section, as part of the ASPIRE program Oct. 19 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The ASPIRE program is an Air Force Materiel Command initiative that exposes participants to the FSS portfolio over 12 weeks in an effort to prepare them for future leadership roles. (Contributed photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Five 88th Force Support Squadron civilian employees have wrapped up the 12-week ASPIRE program, which exposed them to the FSS portfolio, preparing each participant for future leadership roles.

Part of an Air Force Materiel Command initiative, the ASPIRE program is just one of several unique experiences available to Airmen — active duty and civilian — to gain or enhance competencies outside formal training. ASPIRE stands for the “Activity Shadowing to Provide Individual Requisite Experiences.”

“The ASPIRE program is a game changer,” said Latonya Johnson, a participant from 88 FSS Force Development. “It gives you greater understanding of the whole organization.”

Sherita Smith, ASPIRE program manager and human resources specialist, said participants were nominated by their supervisors and a panel of FSS leadership selected them without knowing names, grades or symbols they belonged to.

ASPIRE program participants from 88 FSS:
Sarah Burkhart, Community Services
Aleah Corbitt, Child and Youth Program
Latonya Johnson, Force Development
Theodore Thomas, Resources
Raymond Owens, Operations

Participants say they gained a better understanding of each flight’s connection to the overall FSS mission while learning something new they didn’t know before.

For Raymond Owens, learning more about the Education and Training Section was eye-opening.

“We work with each other almost daily, but to learn how that flight gets it done and then putting it together with my job was very interesting,” he said.

Going through the program rotations revealed “a lot of why we do things the way that we do,” Sarah Burkhart added.

Johnson said she recommends everyone sign up for the ASPIRE experience.

“It helps connect the dots and fill in the missing pieces that typically comes with large organizations,” she said. “Most people are focused on doing their own specific jobs and not having the time to learn what their squadron teammates do on a daily basis.”

ASPIRE not only enriches participant understanding of 88 FSS’s vast responsibilities, it also carves out time to focus on their career growth.

In conjunction with attending two Air Force leadership development courses and mentoring sessions with Kristine Freels, 88 FSS director and program mentor, participants were charged with completing and submitting their Individual Development Plan to supervisors and squadron leadership, Smith said.  

According to Jessica Gleinser, Workforce Development Section chief, the IDP enables all personnel to reflect on their personal and professional short and long-term goals independently and have a meaningful conversation with their supervisor. By being aware of the employee’s goals, the supervisor can provide them with valuable professional-development opportunities.

“ASPIRE selectees are provided a unique opportunity to gain mission insights throughout all FSS flights, enabling them to make more informed decisions in their ‘job jar’ and be true ambassadors of the FSS mission,” Gleinser said.

To foster professional growth that promotes effective leadership, the program incorporated monthly topics of empathy, development and understanding roles.

With previous career experience in workforce development, LeAnna Gorman, 88 FSS operations officer, is an ASPIRE program advocate.

“From my perspective as the operations officer, I was able to learn from the ASPIRE participants about what their day-to-day jobs are and use that to see where more emphasis may need to be placed on the overall FSS mission awareness,” she said. “I really enjoyed this opportunity to spend some time with them and talk about our amazing FSS mission.”

A program completion ceremony was held Nov. 4 to commemorate the accomplishments of participants.

For those interested in career-development opportunities such as the ASPIRE program, check out the “Developmental Special Experiences” via MyVector at https://myvector.us.af.mil/myvector/Home/Dashboard.