ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- With the motto of "Preparing Tomorrow's Leaders Today" 16 people graduated with the confidence of bigger and better things in their future in a ceremony held here June 7 sponsored by the Army Sustainment Command.The three-and-a-half hour long ceremony concluded an eight-month program -- Journey to Leadership Tier II -- and included four team presentations, three testimonials, a keynote address, and the actual commencement honoring participants with their graduation plaques."For me, Journey to Leadership is a personal journey," said Charlotte Kizer, 403rd Army Field Support Battalion-Northeast Asia, Camp Carroll, South Korea, during her testimonial to attendees.Kizer explained that although her work ethic was "phenomenal," she sought less stress in her life. She said she was perceived as being "standoffish," "mean," and not having time to talk with people."If that was the perception, that was my reality," Kizer said. She realized the perception didn't match her work ethic. "I was the problem."The solution, she said, was simple. "I just made small talk. That's all I had to do."All but three enrollees were from RIA; another came from New Cumberland, Pa. (Army Security Assistance Command), and the third from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (404th Army Field Support Battalion-Lewis).Other participants included those in ASC, Army Joint Munitions Command, Army Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, and the Army Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center.Other testimonials were given by Darryl Howlett (JMC), and Sgt. 1st Class Larry Burden (ASC) who was the only active-duty military member in the class.Howlett, who has 10 years with JMC and is a 23-year Navy veteran in the reserve, said JTL was important to him because "you can always add to your experience."Howlett, a public affairs specialist, said he did a 30-day work detail with an organization outside his field -- resource management. With no experience in it, Howlett said he was "dropped in the deep end of the pool" from day one disproving his initial belief that the first week would be relatively light.For Burden, JTL was an opportunity to learn more about leadership.Even with two decades worth of Army experience and leadership schools behind him, leadership, he found, is something that needs constant adjustment."There are so many ways to lead people," he said. "The key is to lead effectively based on personalities."Earlier, team presentations were made in the areas of the ASC Retirement Website, Direct Sales Invoicing for JMTC, Display of ASC Evolution, and RIA-JMTC Mentoring Program.The keynote address was made by Brig. Gen. John Wharton, commanding general, ASC, and senior mission commander of RIA. He is slated for promotion to major general June 13.Wharton explained that JTL graduates are tomorrow's leaders and they will be challenged by the internal and external environments that complicate organizations trying to accomplish the mission with efficiency and effectiveness.Wharton reiterated a phrase that Army leadership has recently used to describe these environments -- an "age of uncertainty."This was caused by fiscal constraints, downsizing of the Army, and ongoing hotspots in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, he said.ASC supports Army and joint forces in support of the combat commanders around the world.Wharton called the graduates "impact players" and said they must be "innovative" and apply the principles learned in JTL."You have to apply them to be change agents," Wharton said. He explained this by saying they must ask the question of what they're doing to do to improve the organization."Don't ever assume the senior leader understands things the way you do," Wharton said, explaining the inevitable progression of filtering out information at his level.After his remarks, Wharton handed out graduation plaques to the graduates and commander's coins.JTL is a leadership development program created by ASC to select and develop a cadre of high potential employees available to fill key positions as they become vacant in the future. This development program includes participation in command-endorsed team projects and a variety of training and educational experiences.The program was designed to address the mission, as well as current and future challenges of ASC and other government organizations.It provides solid training and development foundation of leadership skills and team building that are enhanced by developmental experiences. JTL gives participants an overview of their strengths and an opportunity to build on their weaknesses through opportunities and exposure with other organizations.There are three tiers to the program. Tier I is for entry level employees, Tier II is for mid-level employees and journeyman positions, and Tier III is for supervisors and managers.The benefits of JTL include a better understanding of the ASC and other organizations' missions, one-on-one contact with senior leaders, personalized coaching, and networking opportunities. As a result of this program, graduates gain knowledge and experience to help them qualify for advancement in their careers. ASC, in turn, gains competent and well-equipped leaders. Participants engage in classroom training, group exercises, learning teams, reading assignments, developmental assignments, cross-training assignments, executive interviews, and shadowing assignments.Lisa Schuldt is the ASC JTL program team lead and Julie Wildermuth is the ASC JTL II program manager. The current contract facilitator for JTL Tier II is Priority Executive Development LLC, based in Bettendorf, Iowa. The training facilitators were Catherine Schade and Irene Loftus.JTL Tier II graduates are:Sgt. 1st Class Larry Burden, ASC; Brooke Crippen, JMC; Cynthia Decker, SAC; Sandra Earhart, ECBC; Heather Elam, JMTC; Darryl Howlett, JMC; Colin James, ASC; Olga Jennings, ECBC; Charlotte Kizer, 403rd AFSB-NEA; Andrew Mack, ASC; Nichol Nichols, JMTC; Linda Noe, ASC; Kelly Porschke, JMC; Karen Watts, 404th AFSB; Marvin Wink, ECBC; Amy Wuthrich, ECBC.