Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.--Fifty senior managers from organizations across Aberdeen Proving Ground have started a journey together. It is a year-long journey that will take them to improved leadership skills and greater understanding of the organizational bonds across APG.
These leaders comprise APG Cohort 4. The APG Senior Leadership Cohort is a year-long leadership program that was conceived over three and half years ago by Gary Martin and Joseph Wienand, APG Senior Executive Service members.

"Joe and I saw the need to grow leadership competencies at APG; we were concerned about the effects of BRAC as well as the aging of the workforce, coupled with a leadership training void at APG," stated Martin.

They contracted with the Office of Personnel Management to develop the program, and under the direction of OPM's Cynthia Dewey, the APG Senior Leadership Cohort has matured to the highly successful program it is today, Martin explained. The number of candidates nominated for APG Cohort has now doubled, making it possible for two Cohort 4 classes, each with 25 students, to be held over the upcoming year.

"It's the strength of the Cohort experience that is drawing the increased number of applicants to the program," said Paul Debenedictis, Cohort 3 program manager and Cohort 2 graduate. The program provides assessments of each participant's leadership skills, provides the tools and guidance to shore up any weaknesses and to leverage key strengths, the opportunities to put these honed skills into action and then most importantly, the opportunity to assess the new results. It is not a matter of "learn it and forget it," in this leadership program, he explained. This program is based on the foundation of Action Science and Action Learning; it is about growing, learning and changing. A wide range of learning strategies is used throughout the year-long program. As a result, the program is engaging no matter your preferred learning modality (visual, auditory or kinesthetic). Debenedictis said the seemingly disparate threads in the form of ideas, concepts, models and insights, weave together over the monthly sessions and through work completed between sessions to form a tapestry that resonates at a personal level with each participant.

Each Cohort is comprised of leaders representing many of the major organizations headquartered on APG. This provides an opportunity to network with other leaders and learn about the organizations residing on APG. The resulting connections formed across APG organizations increase opportunities for collaboration and the sharing of facilities, equipment and talent -- especially important in these times of shrinking budgets and continued demands for innovation and productivity. "As result of my participation in Cohort 3, I've built connections and found synergies that I could leverage in the future," stated Steve Slane, Cohort 3 graduate.

The fifty who gathered March 28 for the program kickoff don't fully realize the journey they are about to begin, said Sue Nappi, Cohort 4 program manager and Cohort 3 graduate. "This journey, if they open themselves to it, can be a transformational experience," she said. As in all journeys, these participants have heard and answered the call to action: the call to improve their leadership skills and the call to strengthen APG as a community. "I look forward to being the observer over the next year, to see how the participants of Cohort 4 grow and change as leaders," said Nappi.

Current GS 14's and 15's can email their interest in being part of Cohort 5 (to begin in March 2013) to Nappi, at susan.L.nappi.civ@mail.mil