Sill makes employee moves to develop professionals

By Chris GardnerJanuary 29, 2024

Sill makes employee moves to develop professionals
Chris Etheridge, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security Plans, operations specialist, takes part in the Developmental Assignment Program with the Fort Sill Plans, Analysis, and Integration Office (PAIO). (Photo Credit: MarieMarie Pihulic) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, Okla. (Jan. 26, 2024)— In an innovative effort to build a versatile, skilled civilian workforce, the U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) at Fort Sill has implemented the Developmental Assignment Program or DAP.

The DAP offers a unique opportunity for employees to step into different jobs for 30, 60, or 90 days. This program strengthens participants' professional experience, prepares them for expanded responsibilities, and fosters improved organizational communication. The essence of the program lies in its dual focus: to develop multi-skilled employees and to enhance the quality of services delivered to Soldiers, families, and civilians.

Julia Sibilla, Fort Sill Garrison deputy commander, reflects on her transformative DAP experience in the Black Sea, emphasizing the program's ability to push boundaries.

"My assignment challenged me to use my skills in unfamiliar settings, significantly enhancing my contribution to the mission. It is about getting out of your comfort zone and evolving personally and professionally," said Sibilla.

One employee found herself at the forefront of assisting in deploying units, which was far different from the front office at the Garrison.

"I was Navy before I came to Fort Sill and had very little Army background,” said Jessica Fortney, Fort Sill Garrison executive assistant. "My time with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security was a deep dive into the heart of what makes Fort Sill function—from scheduling operations to working closely with the mobilization branch and the Soldier Readiness Program," Fortney explained.

Fort Sill's DAP emphasizes the importance of mentoring and coaching in fostering a thriving work environment. Leaders at Fort Sill are committed to regularly engaging in coaching and informal mentoring sessions. This approach helps new employees adapt to the organization and supports them in developing their Individual Development and Performance Plans. It's a testament to Fort Sill's dedication to nurturing a culture where leaders and employees collaboratively work toward personal and organizational goals.

Monica Ulibarri-Ludlow stepped out of her normal role as the Fort Sill Army Community Service director and received a higher-operational look into the Army through her DAP at IMCOM Directorate-Training Headquarters (ID-T HQ) at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

"My assignment at ID-T HQ, working with the Installation Support Team Specialists, was a journey of profound professional growth. The mentorship I received was exceptional, offering deep insights into ID-T HQ's relationship with Garrison," she explained.

Ulibarri-Ludlow's role gave her a comprehensive view of the operations and challenges at different garrisons, especially regarding funding, infrastructure, and manpower.

"This experience has significantly broadened my understanding of how leadership decisions are impacted and the challenges that Garrisons face," Ulibarri-Ludlow added.

The DAP aligns with the Commander's Intent to sustain a multi-skilled Installation Management workforce. It allows employees to grow without the burden of an extended departure from their family, balancing professional development with personal obligations.

For others, it’s a chance to spread your wings and travel abroad. Jerry Armstrong, Plans, Analysis, and Integration Office (PAIO) chief, did a DAP in Germany in 2023 and returned with more skills under his belt.

"My assignment as the ID-Europe G34 Protect Director was a leap into diverse responsibilities. It was an opportunity to rediscover my strengths,” said Armstrong.

Under the DAP, participating organizations gain well-rounded employees who bring enhanced leadership skills and a comprehensive perspective on agency operations.

"The program is not just a Garrison effort but an installation approach to developing our force. It's about harnessing the collective strength of the Fort Sill team," said Sibilla.

Chris Etheridge, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security Plans operations specialist, described his DAP experience with the PAIO as transformative.

"The DAP was a chance to challenge myself and expand my understanding of Garrison operations. I enhanced my strategic planning skills through mentorship and engagement with different directorates,” said Etheridge. “I gained a new perspective on my role in the organization. The assignment allowed me to develop working relationships with people inside and outside the organization that I normally would have never encountered."

The Fort Sill DAP currently has 15 employees participating. It has also successfully entered its second phase, extending opportunities beyond the Garrison to include Training and Doctrine Command and other agencies.

“This expansion reflects a commitment to building a robust, versatile workforce ready to tackle future challenges,” said Sibilla.

For more information on participating in the DAP, Fort Sill's civilian employees are encouraged to contact Chris Sharkey, Human Resources, workforce development program specialist, at (580) 442-0148.