Wright-Patt program gives emerging leaders broader look at base, mission

  • Published
  • By Jaima Fogg
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Twenty-four LEADership Wright-Patt graduates were presented with certificates of completion Aug. 24 at a ceremony in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

LEADership Wright-Patt is a program designed for mid-level civilian and military personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The program’s tactical style encourages students to look up and out of their home organizations and gain a better understanding of WPAFB’s overarching mission and how the 88th Air Base Wing and tenant organizations work together.

“LEADership Wright-Patt is an opportunity for employees who are interested in future leadership roles,” said Latonya Johnson, 88th Force Support Squadron education and training management analyst. “It gives them an overview of the leadership at Wright-Patt and a quick immersion into the 88 ABW and the top 10 tenant organizations.”

The five-month program is offered once per year. This year’s class met for a total of 10 days, about twice a month from April to August. Sessions included a base organization tour, diversity and leadership communication training, mentorship meetings or engaging with senior leaders.

The class toured Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, 88 ABW, Air Force Installation Contracting Center, National Air and Space Intelligence Center and Air Force Research Laboratory.

Touring the installation and tenant organizations not only allows students to learn more about those organizations but also opens transfer and transition options that may better align with their current and future career goals, Johnson said. She hopes the experience will help them identify whether they are ready to pursue supervisory opportunities or use what they’ve learned to be more effective and influential leaders within their teams and organizations.

A key aspect of the course was learning to effectively communicate with one another, despite differing personalities and communication styles. The class was divided into teams and tasked with completing a capstone project based on the 2023 AFMC Strategic Plan line of effort to revolutionize processes.

This year’s projects centered around hiring practices in communication and marketing, awards process improvement and the impact of no-shows in the Entry Authorization Gate Liaison program.

“The program helped me better understand how the AFMC enterprise operates and the broad spectrum of organizations it includes,” said Megan Blackwell, a LWP graduate. “It provided a great opportunity to hear many senior leaders across the installation give their perspective on effective leadership styles and why we do what we do.”

The course wrapped up with an interactive senior leadership panel. AFMC Executive Director Lorna Estep, 88 ABW Vice Director John Faulkner and Candice Hatcher-Solis, AFRL Commander’s Action Group chief, shared their leadership philosophies, lessons learned and words of advice.

They emphasized valuing people, learning to listen and fostering a sense of belonging through leadership.

“LEADership Wright-Patt gives those in senior leadership roles an opportunity to be transparent and to talk about their mistakes, how they recovered, how they were mentored and how they asked for help,” Johnson said. “So going and touring and getting the brief, not only are they learning about the organizations, but they are learning about different leadership styles. It’s not a one size fits all.”

LWP was the innovation of former 88 ABW Vice Director Rebecca Westlake in 2015. The first class of 16 civilians graduated a year later. The program’s content and participation have steadily grown since its inception and now includes military members.

Eligible applicants must be current WPAFB employees in the civilian paygrades of GS 9-12, officer ranks of second lieutenant to major, or enlisted technical and master sergeants. Other grades may be considered, depending on the target audience and management level within the organization.

The 2024 application process will be released later this year through training focal points.