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Team Wright-Patt Mentoring Program stages 2022 kickoff

  • Published
  • By Richy Rosado
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – January is National Mentoring Month, and the Team Wright-Patt Mentoring Program kicked off its 2022 series, which promotes professional development and growth while encouraging military members and civilian employees to develop new or different skills.  

Sharon Heilmann, Team Wright-Patt Mentoring Program manager for the 88th Force Support Squadron’s Workforce Development Element, hosted the year’s first virtual checkpoint Jan. 18 with over 180 participants. Overall, the program has 230 individuals enrolled, forming 155 mentor-mentee teams.

Keynote speakers were Gregory Leingang, 88th Air Base Wing vice director, and Shawn Meyers, also from the Education and Training Section’s Workforce Development Element. Leingang discussed his experiences as a mentee and mentor and the base program’s importance. Meyers conducted a presentation on “Mentoring in the Virtual World.”

Leingang described why mentoring is so important.

“So why do we do this mentoring?” he asked. “First and foremost, it’s the job of a leader to grow more leaders. Secondly, we do this to attract and retain a superior workforce. We also do mentoring to develop what I call the human weapon system. We are weapon systems; we bring with us a set of capabilities that we’re able to employ for the purpose of solving really critical and hard problems, and so we have to build into ourselves that capability.”

He said there is a temptation for mentees to only hear what they want and disregard the things they don’t want to hear. They must recognize that growth is hard and discomfort is real when they are trying to grow and develop.

Mentees should realize that feedback is “coming from a place of true caring,” Leingang added.

Meyers discussed the mentee-mentor relationship in a virtual world.

“Traditionally, we usually communicated face to face with people within our office, work centers or a meeting,” he said. “But when you communicate with people outside of your office or workspace, you would normally communicate with them virtually through phone calls or email. During COVID, we’ve all had to adapt and overcome.

“The reality is that current technology existed prior, but now, we’re just forced to use it even more and for some things such as that traditional thinking of mentoring we realize that we need to change our framework, our mindset, that it’s OK to do things virtually. I’m not saying it’s better or worse. It’s just different.”

Last year, the Team Wright-Patt Mentoring Program had over 200 mentors and mentees from across all major units on base.

“We’re excited that the value of Team Wright-Patt Mentoring Program continues to be recognized,” Heilmann said. “Our current program is comprised of many first-time and returning participants, ranging from senior airman to colonel and GS-5 to GS-15. Many of the returning participants were previous mentees who are now expanding their personal development by taking on the role of mentor in this year’s program.

“As part of the program, we provide resources such as educational presentations, monthly meetings, senior leader panels, and newsletters to support mentors and mentees as they work together to maximize the benefits of their mentoring experiences.”

The 2022 program was developed based on feedback from last year’s participants. This year, the Team Wright-Patt Mentoring Program will host two cycles: January to June and July to December.

The Education and Training Section will begin enrollment in April for the year’s second phase. The voluntary opportunity is open to all Wright-Patterson Air Force Base military and civilian personnel (excluding contractors).

For registration details, send an email to or Sharon Heilmann at