The professional group Tomorrow's Army Civilian Leaders headed to Monte Sano Lodge on July 25 for its annual leadership retreat.

These interns, Fellows and co-op students listened to several guest speakers on the day's theme, "Identifying the Role We are Destined to Play."

The guest speakers included Huntsville Police Chief Lewis Morris, who started the day with a discussion on the importance of routing your path to leadership. Morris said it was important for everyone to know and understand their organizational charts. He asked everyone to develop a detailed plan for their career by looking at the organization's structure and mission and vision.

"You need to know the paths you can take to excel," Morris said.

After Morris was Dr. Thomas Pieplow, a department chair and professor at Athens State University and the former director for security assistance management for AMCOM. Pieplow gave advice about the importance of leading with integrity and serving.

"Everyone here has an opportunity to be a great leader because you have an opportunity to serve and that's what leadership is really about, serving others," Pieplow said.

He stressed the importance of hiring people with the integrity to stand up to you and that in order to be truly great you need to listen to them.

After Pieplow and a lunch break, TACL members sat down with a panel of leaders from across Redstone Arsenal. The panel included William Marriott, deputy chief of staff for personnel, AMC; Cathy Dickens, executive director of ACC-Redstone; Col. John Hamilton, Garrison commander; Col. Bob Pastorelli, chief of staff at USASAC; Dr. Charles Lind, chief of staff at PEO Missiles and Space; and Mark Moe of AMCOM's IMMC. The members of the panel introduced themselves and spoke on their path to leadership, lessons they had learned along the way and any advice they felt the group should hear.

Marriott stressed the importance of doing what is right. He said that when he faced a tough decision he would ask himself "how would this look on the front page of the Washington Post?"

His other main point was that leadership is through experience and in order to succeed and move up you need to volunteer for new opportunities and take a chance.

"Leadership is about 10 percent training and education but 90 percent experience," Marriott said. "If you want to move up you need to take a chance, stand up and volunteer for something."

Andrews said it was important to know your "blind spots" so you could fix them. He defined a blind spot as what others know about you but you don't know about yourself. These he said were typically small things but also the very thing that could hold you back from progressing in an organization.

"Don't be defensive as people try and give you feedback, that will only hold you back," Andrews said. "Instead you should work to extract feedback and use it to help yourself."

His final note was to ask the group to help change the government. He expressed the importance of not accepting something because that's how it's been done for 20 years and instead working actively to help make the government better.

The importance of being passionate about your career was the lesson from Pastorelli. He said nothing will help you progress more into leadership roles than when people can see that you genuinely love what you do.

"You have to be passionate about what you do," Pastorelli said. "When you enjoy what you do and take care of your people everything will work out."

After the panel the final guest speaker was Sarah Savage, president and CEO of Leadership Huntsville/Madison County. She performed a team building activity with the group and then gave a presentation on servant leadership and how to make sure you are mobilizing others.