During a touching and reflective graduation ceremony for students of the Leader Investment for Tomorrow program on Dec. 11, three graduates shared how the program has changed their leadership journey as government civilians.

Advanced LIFT graduate Monica Powers talked about her leadership legacy and providing positive leadership in support of warfighters. Intermediate LIFT graduate Airelle Odom discussed the challenge of professional development. UpLIFT graduate Nichole Massey spoke about service as the true meaning of leadership.

In their comments, each addressed what they and their classmates learned as members of the 12th annual Leader Investment for Tomorrow program coordinated for Team Redstone by the Aviation and Missile Command. The 53 members of this year's class graduated from a year of leadership studies on Dec. 11 in a ceremony at Bob Jones Auditorium. The represented 19 organizations at Team Redstone.

Powers said her Advanced LIFT classmates developed strong friendships while gaining knowledge of their leadership skills and Team Redstone capabilities as well as developing their time management skills to meet the demands of the class while also completing work responsibilities.

Each member of the class was required to ask of themselves, "What leadership legacy do you hope to leave behind when your time has ended?"

"I never took into account that I am a leader in everyday life," Powers said, outlining a 15-year government career that has included positions at the Missile Defense Agency, the Program Executive Office for Aviation and now AMCOM.

It was her son's enlistment in the Air Force that made her realize the leadership support she provided him as his mentor, encourager and advisor.

"That's who will be affected if we don't do our job properly," she said, referring to the nation's service members.

"As a leader, we need to exude passion for the Soldier. This is not just a job. It's an opportunity for us to serve them, to ensure their mission doesn't fail, to give them the resources they need ... My job is to ensure that my son along with all Soldiers fighting the fight are ready and have the equipment they need so they won't fail."

Odom said it was interesting to see how she and her Intermediate LIFT classmates changed during their monthly meetings as a class. She said the leadership training changed their motivations, outlooks and aspirations.

Intermediate LIFT, she said, began the "never ending challenge of developing ourselves professionally. The class prepared us to take on the challenges of today and the changes of tomorrow."

Massey, who was part of the UpLIFT class, referred to leadership as humble service.

"Our goal is to serve others simply by putting their desires before ours," she said.

Good leaders empower and encourage employees, and find ways to build up, teach, mentor and grow their employee's capabilities.

"Don't be afraid to take on challenges and strive to be not only a better person but a better leader," she said.

Each student was congratulated by AMCOM commander Maj. Doug Gabram. In his comments to the group, Gabram said the Army civilian corps creed is not much different from the Soldier creed. The creed and oath taken by civilians vows their dedication to serving the nation and the Army, and its Soldiers and civilians; supporting the mission; providing stability and continuity; defending the Constitution; and living the Army values.

"We are one team, one fight," Gabram said. "You have been committed to studying leadership for a year. But you can continue to learn and continue to lead. Let this be a stepping stone to something greater. Go out there and lead because we need good leaders. Work hard, never quit and do the right thing."

The LIFT program began in 2005, and eventually developed into Advanced LIFT for GS-14 and 15 employees, Intermediate LIFT - also known as iLIFT - for GS-11, 12 and 13 employees, and UpLIFT for GS-10 and below. This year's 53 graduates brings the number of graduates for the program to 926.

"The students spent 10 months building leadership attributes, learning about Redstone Arsenal and learning about their unique capabilities," said Tom Olszowy, who coordinates the LIFT program for AMCOM.

'We try to expose the students to the experiences and wisdom they are going to need to lead themselves, to lead small organizations and to lead large organizations. This is about building tomorrow - what do they need to know to be successful, how do they need to develop themselves, who do they need to know, how do they develop those professional networks."
Leadership training included time management, public speaking, communications, networking, self-awareness exercises and peer evaluations. Each class also worked on projects that allowed them to practice leadership skills within a group.

Advanced LIFT graduates include: Chris Davis, Missile and Space Intelligence Center; Kelly DeWitt, Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center; Jeffrey Gallman, Redstone Test Center; Erica Ignont, Space and Missile Defense Command; Michelle Jenkins, Program Executive Office for Aviation; Ronald Mailhiot, Logistics Support Activity; Angela Marsh, Marshall Space Flight Center; Jason McCormick, Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space; Monica Powers, AMCOM Resource Management (G-8); Stanley Smith, PEO-Missiles and Space; Douglas Snead, AMCOM Logistics Center; Robert Stone, RTC; and James White, AMRDEC.

Intermediate LIFT graduates include: Birvid Atkins-Warner, AMCOM G-8; Dimeccia Blake, ALC; Rachel Davis, ALC; Richard Deakins, AMRDEC; Frank Duda, AMCOM Operations (G-3/5); Song Flagler, Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support; Thomas Hibbett, AMRDEC; Melody Hinkle, PEO-Missiles and Space; Atila Kayar, NASA; Julie Kress, PEO-Aviation; Bryce Luffman, AMRDEC; William Moonan, RTC; Airelle Odom, ALC; John Patterson, Army Contracting Command-Redstone; Christopher Paz, AMCOM G-8; Jennifer Richardson, ALC; LaTonya Robinson, ACC-Redstone; Herb Thompson PEO for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare & Sensors; Tawana Townsend, Headquarters, Army Materiel Command; Michelle Watkins, Garrison-Redstone; Timothy Weaver, LOGSA; Timothy White, AMRDEC; Willie Jay White, ALC; Jayson Wilson, PEO for Missiles and Space; and Ruth Woodham, PEO for Missiles and Space.

UpLIFT graduates include: Christopher Adekandi, LOGSA; Logan Ausderau, AMRDEC; Joyce Bunch, AMRDEC; Brittany Carr, ALC; Payce Carupella, ALC; Bobbie Daniels, AMCOM Security Assistance Management Directorate; Brian Dunlap, Test, Measurement and Diagnostics Equipment Activity; Blake Martin, ALC; Nichole Massey, AMCOM G-3/5; Rodney McCall, ALC; Sharika Miller, AMCOM G-3/5; Felicia Payne, SAMD; Natasha Shank, AMRDEC; Jennifer Walters, Garrison-Redstone; and Joshalyn Williams, ALC.