ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The impressive newness of the state-of-the-art Communications-Electronics Command Mission Training Facility auditorium was an appropriate backdrop for the APG Senior Leadership Cohort graduation ceremony Feb. 9.

Both represent the future of Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The APG Senior Leadership Cohort is a year-long program of study and discovery designed especially for APG by the Office of Personnel Management with the help of leadership development experts and APG senior executive service members.

One cohort goal is to secure the future of APG by developing leaders who not only are knowledgeable and skilled, but who are also strong in mind, body, heart and soul. The other goal is to foster leaders who are an integrating force for developing community among the incoming and existing organizations at the Army\'s new science and technology hub.

"I'm from Fort Monmouth," said Patricia O'Connor, cohort graduate and CECOM Chief Information Officer who came to APG two years ago to facilitate the organization's BRAC move.

"I loved everything about my life there - my home, my installation, my work. Through the cohort, with the help of my colleagues who made me feel welcome, who showed me around and helped me with problems I encountered; and the SES community who educated cohort on the importance of the APG mission, I've learned to love everything about my life here," she said.

Members of the second APG Senior Leadership Cohort include 29 individuals representing 14 APG organizations. Leadership from CECOM, ARL, CMA and others attended the ceremony to celebrate with the candidates they nominated for the program.

Maj. Gen. Randolph Strong, commanding general, CECOM, provided opening remarks.

"When you look at the post as a community, we are still quite fragmented," Strong said. "So, the challenge for the graduates of this cross-organizational leadership program is to help bridge boundaries and leverage the expertise, innovation, and imagination that each organization offers."

One way graduates plan to do this is by forming an APG Cohort Alumni Association and hold quarterly meetings. Forty members from Cohort 1 and Cohort 2 are committed to the association.

The objective of the association is to be a driving force in the development, promotion, and implementation of APG projects and programs that will enhance the working conditions and development of community of the APG Garrison and all APG tenant organizations.