More than 25 Army civilians graduated from the Intermediate Leadership Investment For Tomorrow and the Upward Leadership Investment For Tomorrow programs during a ceremony held Dec. 7 at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
Known as iLIFT and Uplift, the programs are hosted by the Aviation and Missile Command G-1; iLIFT is a 14-month class catered toward employees in grades GS-11 through GS-13, while UpLIFT is a 12-month class open to new Army employees, regardless of grade. Although hosted by AMCOM, all Redstone Arsenal employees are invited to apply for the courses.
LIFT program manager and senior instructor Thomas Olszowy said the classes are similar, both focusing on civilian leader development.
He said, “In 2003, the Army did a whitepaper that identified it was not doing well in terms of civilian leader development and as a direct result of that, AMCOM initiated the LIFT program. The first class was in 2005; it then expanded to three classes: UpLIFT, iLIFT and advanced LIFT.”
Olszowy said that the LIFT program has grown over the past 18 years, with the content becoming increasingly more hands-on.
“We realized we could do better,” he said. “It moved from just a classroom to more practical exercises because the best leader development is practical leader development — actually getting out and doing it.”
In addition to traditional classes, capstone projects, classroom briefings and self-development activities, the 2023 iLIFT class received direct feedback during more than 300 mentoring sessions from senior leaders they selected as mentors.
The eight UpLIFT students traveled to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where they repelled, rode in helicopters and met Soldiers on the ground. The 20 iLIFT students toured many of the tenants that call Redstone Arsenal home, including the new FBI complex, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Army’s Primary Standards Lab.
The iLIFT students were divided into two teams for a final capstone project. One team focused on new technology, and the other focused on AMCOM employee on-boarding and off-boarding.
Olszowy said “Project Kickstarter” saw the largest amount of money procured in the history of the LIFT program — $246,000 — successfully placed on contract for future helicopter technology upgrades. “Project On-boarding/Off-boarding” developed and established a streamlined, standard process for AMCOM employees, which was successfully implemented two days before the LIFT graduation ceremony.
However, despite the course work, the briefings and the projects, Olszowy said the most important takeaway from the LIFT program was the networking relationships the students made along the way.
He said, “Through all of this, they helped develop each other and networked amongst themselves, but more importantly, they developed a network across the installation.”
He then spoke to the students directly. Telling them, “We forced you out of the safety of your cubicles and into the light of day because that is the only way you would meet those people, and leadership is about people.”
AMCOM Deputy to the Commanding General Don Nitti reiterated Olszowy’s comments about people and the critical role well-trained civilians have in Army readiness.
“The Army’s No. 1 priority is people. AMC’s No. 1 priority is people, and AMCOM’s No. 1 priority is people. Part of taking care of people is ensuring that you have developmental programs to ensure they are successful and have appropriately trained leadership.”
At the end of the ceremony, representatives from the two classes spoke about their experiences. They thanked their instructors, as well as their supervisors, for affording them the opportunity to attend.
iLIFT student Adam Thomas from AMCOM G-8 posed two challenges to his teammates. First, challenging them to continue learning through personal development classes. Thomas already challenged himself, as for the last few weeks of iLIFT, he was dual enrolled in the Army Civilian Education System Advanced Course. His other challenge was to develop others.
“Each one, teach one,” he said. “Find the next you. Find the next person who can apply for the next class; maybe it’s someone that you’ve known for a while or someone that you’ve just met. If you identify a quality within someone, tell them about your experience. Encourage them to apply for this. Encourage them to do the things that we got to do.”
The next iLIFT class will be announced during the summer, and Olszowy said the application process is competitive, requiring each applicant to submit a personal narrative, as well as narratives from their supervisor and their career field manager. A panel of senior leaders will choose the class set to begin in October 2024.
Ge’Naia L. Allen, AMCOM Logistics Center
Lauren S. Cunningham, AMCOM Logistics Center
Shelby Dorner, AMCOM Logistics Center
Derrick M. Ervin, AMCOM Logistics Center
Leon R. Lindsey, AMCOM Logistics Center
Carol Mahaley-Harris, AMCOM Logistics Center
Emily E. Stanley, AMCOM Logistics Center
Jennifer C. Williams, AMCOM Logistics Center
Esther L. Clay, Army Materiel Command
Spencer Cole, Missile and Space Intelligence Center
Travis A. Drost, AMCOM legal
Elizabeth A. Eade, PEO Missiles and Space
Doug Y. Kim, AMCOM G-3
Gabriel W. Knowles, PEO Aviation
Beverly S. Lay, PEO Missiles and Space
Carmen M. Madere, U.S. Army Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Activity
Christopher J. Manning, Australian Engineer and Science Exchange Program, Future Vertical Lift
Brannon C. May, U.S. Army Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Activity
William J. Nance, AMCOM Logistics Center
Cydney D. Nichols, AMCOM Logistics Center
Joseph L. Pennington, Security Assistance Management Directorate
Amanda B. Schulte, PEO Aviation
Candice C. Smith, AMCOM G-4
Lindsay R. Tate, PEO Missile and Space
Adam N. Thomas, AMCOM G-8
Pearson S. Wheatley, AMCOM Logistics Center
LaToya T. Whitsett, Army Contracting Command
Ila D. Williams, AMCOM G-8