Female Picatinny Arsenal Garrison employees meet with senior leaders

By Eric KowalDecember 11, 2023

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - More than 20 women assigned to U.S. Army Garrison Picatinny Arsenal met with Lt. Col. Alexander D. Burgos, Garrison Commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. David M. Franks, Garrison Command Sergeant Major, during the latest iteration of “Coffee with the Commander.”
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - More than 20 women assigned to U.S. Army Garrison Picatinny Arsenal met with Lt. Col. Alexander D. Burgos, Garrison Commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. David M. Franks, Garrison Command Sergeant Major, during the latest iteration of “Coffee with the Commander.” (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - More than 20 women assigned to U.S. Army Garrison Picatinny Arsenal met with Lt. Col. Alexander D. Burgos, Garrison Commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. David M. Franks, Garrison Command Sergeant Major, during the latest iteration of “Coffee with the Commander.”

“We discussed challenges and shared positive experiences,” said Melissa Clark, an administrative assistant in the Garrison’s headquarters. “We definitely bonded with each other through open dialogue. We all introduced ourselves and shared how long we have been working with the Garrison and found common ground although many of us work in separate buildings.”

The ‘Coffee with the Commander’ meetings are designed to receive candid feedback from Garrison employees without fear of reprisal, along with reminding them that the command maintains an open-door policy. Such gatherings also allow Garrison leaders to learn of any concerns or how to improve new hire onboarding.

“I believe engaging conversations with the workforce specifically focusing on diverse groups that could offer a new perspective is great,” said Rachael Winston, a cultural resources manager in the Garrison’s Environmental Affairs Division.

“The Garrison Commander made a very poignant statement acknowledging that the Army leadership is very male dominated,” Winston added. “He understands that women are an underrepresented group, but engaging with diverse groups allows for different opinions to be heard.”

While speaking with garrison leadership, several attendees recommended starting a process that allows employees to be recognized by their peers.

“I think one of the most important discussions that we had was the idea of working to include areas within the Garrison that are often overlooked, and that recognition can come from anywhere. Finding ways to recognize staff doesn’t have to start just at the top,” Winston stated.

“For me, I think it is important that we at the Garrison continue to work on our leadership skills, having tough conversations, and take the time to recognize the accomplishments or hard work of others. Valuing someone goes a long way,” she said.

"Coffee with the Commander" is currently a monthly activity. It is designed to foster clear communication within the garrison while strengthening relationships among employees, directors, and key leaders.

Previous “Coffee with the Commander” sessions have been held for new hires and military veterans.

Last year Burgos signed a proclamation reaffirming the garrison’s commitment to the U.S. Army Installation Management Command ’s Service Culture Campaign (SCC), which guides a wide range of operations.

“The Service Culture Campaign is not just a program – it is a people first approach,” said Burgos. “The campaign constitutes an investment in our most valuable resource, people. People are the Army Chief of Staff’s number one priority, and the SCC will be used to operationalize that priority.”

Coffee with the commander is one facet in that campaign and an initiative of the Communications component, which aims to improve relations and help make new employees comfortable and address any workplace concerns.