JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL,VA (July 28, 2015). - Approximately 30 national executives from education and multicultural organizations gathered here Tuesday to participate in the annual Strengthening America's Youth (SAY) Leadership Committee meeting.
The SAY Leadership Committee was established by the Army Marketing and Research Group (AMRG) in July 2010 to bring together a group of action-oriented leaders and organizations whose primary mission is to support and advance the success of students and young people across the United States. The committee participates in vigorous discussion and information-sharing about the challenges facing the Nation's youth including the crisis in education, childhood obesity, and workforce readiness.
Ultimately, the SAY partnership allows the Army to articulate its position as a leader in education, training, career development and science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM), while building and expanding its connection and support to like-minded and influential civilian organizations.
During his opening remarks, Mr. Mark Davis, deputy assistant Secretary of the Army for marketing, explained the importance of demonstrating the value of the Army as an institution in order to change perceptions.
"The complex work that our Soldiers do, day in and day out, in more than 150 countries around the globe, the values that they live by…and above all, their selfless dedication should be known," said Davis, while explaining the knowledge gap between the American people and their Army. "There should be no knowledge gap…and it's my job to help close the gap."
To demonstrate the AMRG's enterprise approach to bridging the gap and increasing the number of Americans who are willing to support, recommend or join the Army, Davis showed the committee several recent Army commercials and then opened the floor for their feedback.
The discussion amongst the group focused largely on long-held misperceptions by the American people about the Army, and how talking about the Army institution versus just the benefits of joining, makes sense.
"This generation is focused on service and making a difference," said Timothy W. Lawrence, executive director of Skills USA. "I think your campaign is on the right track."
During the conference, the SAY committee members also had the opportunity to listen to the personal stories of several Soldiers from different military occupations and in different stages of their career to highlight how Army professional development and educational opportunities allowed them to grow through the ranks to reach career aspirations.
"This is the first time I have been to this conference and I can tell you that I am learning a lot about the Army," said Albert Alfaro, a senior member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
"I am interested in understanding what we can do as an organization to partner with the U.S. Army to map the different Military Occupational Specialties, as we help transition veterans to the civilian workforce," added Alfaro.
At the end of the conference, the executives formally presented specific recommendations on how to enhance the collaboration between their organizations and the Army and how the Army can leverage SAY and the members' expertise to further connect with students and educators.