Each year, the Department of Defense selects 10 individuals from each branch of service to participate in the Executive Leadership Development Program.

The application process is long and complicated, and the competition is fierce.

Having one employee representing Army in the 10-month program is impressive; having two is phenomenal. The Security Assistance Command boasts two employees in the next cohort, which gets started in September. Ryan Nichols, a country program manager at the USASAC headquarters, also was selected.

Laura Henzy is a traffic management specialist for the European Command and Africa Command in the Transportation Office, Logistics Programs Division at the USASAC New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, location.

Henzy said she learned of her selection to attend ELDP while at her previous assignment in Sembach, Germany. Before she accepted the job offer, she contacted USASAC to ensure her new supervisor was on-board with her participation in the leadership program.

"Being selected to participate in the Executive Leadership Development Program is a great opportunity for Ms. Henzy," Eric Cady, the chief of the Transportation Branch, said. "What Ms. Henzy gains and takes away from this program will benefit the impending development and partnership in the security cooperation enterprise; while simultaneously evolving her career as a future U.S. Army leader."

The ELDP offers individuals, all top mid-career active duty and civilian leaders from across DOD, the opportunity to study leadership and the warfighter mission.

Henzy said she is looking forward to the challenge.

"I am excited for this professional development opportunity that is tailored toward leadership vs. technical training for transportation or contracting," she said. "I am looking forward to building new relationships with other DOD civilians outside my career field as well as the experiences we will encounter in our classroom and physical training."

Henzy, who has been with USASAC since March, said she plans to participate in ELDP and complete transportation duties concurrently.

The training program will require approximately one week a month for travel to other locations.

"The program begins with a CORE (Cohort, Observations, Reflections and Experience) 10-day class at Southbridge, Massachusetts, and monthly TDYs to locations such as Korea, Hawaii, California, Texas, North Carolina, Kansas and D.C.," Henzy said.

Henzy said she learned of the program while completing her Individual Development Plan, and after looking into what was required, decided to apply.

"It sparked my interest, and I immediately decided I was going to apply," she said. "Reading that only 10 individuals were selected by the Army each year, I knew it was going to be a very competitive program to get into."

Over the course of a month, Henzy said she obtained approval from her leadership chain and compiled a packet that included a biography, statement of interest, a write-up of her competencies, a supervisor assessment, a career synopsis with career objectives and a resume, among other documents. The course also requires a continued service agreement.

Once the application packet makes its way through several review boards, if the individual is still being considered for the course, they are contacted for an interview. Henzy said she was in Rotterdam, Netherlands, doing a site visit with a commercial carrier when she called in for her interview. She received notification that she was selected in mid-December.

Participation in the course will help her become a better leader by developing new skills and tools to apply on the job throughout her career, Henzy said.

"This program will develop me as a leader of people and projects versus other Army training which teaches technical competencies for specific tasks," she said. "I will be able to inspire and influence future leaders that I work with on a day-to-day basis as well as those I mentor."

She said being exposed to the mission and functions of the other branches of the military will help her understand the "big picture" and unified goal of the DOD. Her experience in Army logistics gave her a stove-pipe view of operations and logistical challenges faced by the warfighter and not challenges faced by the DOD enterprise as a whole.

"This will be a challenging program that will push me outside my comfort zone and allow me to grow to become more effective in my critical and creative thinking, decision making skills and constructive feedback abilities," Henzy said. "I will be able use this program to better serve the DOD in any future roles of higher responsibility. I plan to continue working for the DOD for the remainder of my career, and the practical experience of this program will teach me how to lead people of any ability in any situation."