FORT SILL, Okla. (Oct. 11, 2018) -- Training specialist Katherine Murry said she is always looking for opportunities to professionally develop. When the new Leadership Fort Sill course was seeking applicants Murry said she was encouraged to apply by her supervisors at the 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

Murry, who is in pay grade GS-11, is one of 33 mentees in the inaugural class of Leadership Fort Sill (LFS), which kicked off Oct. 4.

"I want to gain knowledge of how all the different organizations on the installation work together for the same mission, and maybe find some of the best practices I can bring to my organization, or share some of my best practices," Murry said. "I'm just excited for the opportunity to grow."

One day a month for the next 10 months, the class members will visit a military unit or agency on post to meet its leaders and learn about its missions. They also are assigned to a senior mentor to help guide them through the course.

Joe Gallagher, deputy to the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, welcomed the class at Snow Hall.

He said LFS is a great opportunity to develop GS-11 through GS-13 employees as leaders to expand their knowledge and their networks as they build relationships, and become connective tissue between organizations.

A little over half the 65 applicants who applied for LFS were accepted, Gallagher said. They are subject matter experts who represent 21 units, agencies, and organizations from throughout the installation.

"To me that (diversity) was paramount as I went through the selection process," he said. Diversity in the class is important to get to the end state of LFS, which is for leaders to be able to pick up the phone and call other leaders for advice, guidance, and suggestions when they are having difficulty resolving an issue.

"That's not going to happen if you don't have a face, a friend, a name of someone who has spent some time with other organizations in one way or another," said Gallagher.

A big part of LFS is its mentorship program, Gallagher said. He described the mentor's role as similar to a coach, and not as a teacher.

Eleven mentors are assigned three students each, and will mentor them one-on-one. Mentors are given much leeway as they share their work philosophy, work ethics, and experiences with their mentees.

Mentor Vickie Lindsey, Reynolds Army Health Clinic chief of Civilian Human Resources, said she sees her role as assisting and directing her mentees in areas to help them grow as leaders.

"Leadership is not in your position, it's in your actions," she said.

Team building is another aspect of the mentorship, and Lindsey said she will use the same team building exercises she uses with her employees at Reynolds.

Mentor Jim Lucas, 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery executive officer, said his role is to get his students to grow by looking outside of how they are currently doing things, and finding ways to excel in their jobs, or future positions.

"We'll look at different methodologies. I'll say 'Jim Lucas ways,' to show them how I got to where I am," said Lucas, a GS-13. He said he tells his mentees upfront that his way is not the only way, but what has worked for him.

He added that he will give them reading assignments for discussion throughout the program.

LFS's first site visit was also Oct. 4, at the 428th Field Artillery Brigade, Lucas said. They received a briefing on its missions, saw classroom instruction on simulations, and viewed artillery live fire training.

Other scheduled site visits include: 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 434th Field Artillery Brigade, and at the Mission Installation and Contracting Command, class members will learn about the legal requirements and technical challenges of contracting, Gallagher said.

More visits will take the class to the Directorate of Training Development and Doctrine, Directorate of Human Resources, Directorate of Emergency Services, Reynolds Army Health Clinic, Dental Health Activity, and the Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate.

"Some of these things are really, really fun, but on each and every one of these events there is going to be some government work that's goes on," Gallagher said. "There's an expectation that you are going to learn something that you didn't know before. It isn't all going to be easy."

Interspersed among the site visits will be guest speakers, including Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, FCoE and Fort Sill commanding general; and other Training and Doctrine Command leaders, Gallagher said.

And an evening social with Leadership Lawton, which is a local community equivalent to LFS, is in the works.

As the inaugural class, there are going to be some bumps, Gallagher said. He welcomed constructive feedback from the class members.

"Let us know what we're doing well, what we're doing not so well, what things do we have that are out of order, what would have been better if we had done this first, second," he said. "We'll take a look at that."

Class member Garry Gaede, Fort Sill Safety Office Field Artillery safety manager for the Army, said he applied for LFS because although he knows a lot of the military commanders and civilian leaders here, he wants to learn what their missions are through their eyes.

"That will make my job easier for taskings and things like that, so I can understand more of what their workload is," said Gaede, a GS-12. "It's an opportunity to see what everybody does."

Gaede said he hopes the course will provide him with a resource of leaders that he can reach to resolve issues.

"The networking, I think is going to be awesome," he said.

And despite his busy schedule, Gaede said he is making time to attend LFS. "Not only will this knowledge help me, but it will help the guys back at the (safety) office."