The Louisville District welcomed officers from within the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division as they hosted the first Officers Professional Development event in Louisville, Kentucky, Sept. 4-6, 2018.
The three-day event, which included several briefings and off-site activities, was designed to equip the officers within the division with skills and knowledge they will need to better serve and impact their home districts as well as develop them for their continued career within the Army.
The first day started with a briefing from Great Lakes and Ohio River Division commander Maj. Gen. Mark Toy.
“I’ve been wanting to do this event for a long time,” Toy said. “We want to be able to talk about your career path and professionalism.”
Toy explained how officers should think about the future and what was next in their careers, whether it be within the Army or not. He encouraged the junior officers to talk to other district commanders because they could be resources for mentorship.
“I thought it was very valuable to get the chance to talk with my peers about their experiences and what they have learned so far while working in USACE,” said Capt. Diana Bojoquez, who joined the Louisville District Sept. 4, 2018. “I also enjoyed that Maj. Gen. Toy encouraged discussion throughout the event and how he encouraged our senior officers to speak about their career paths.”
During Toy’s presentation, he also spoke about his regional motto - taking care of people - and how leaders can accomplish that goal through DRIVE. DRIVE is an acronym Toy created to help his team remember the elements of taking care of people: D – Develop future talent; R - Refine internal management; I - Improve regional processes; V – Value open communication; E – Empower multidisciplinary teams.
“Not everyone understands but that motto is so important from a regional perspective of where I am trying to go with vision,” Toy reiterated. “It’s about the people - that’s been my experience with the Corps, and these initiatives are how you take care of people.”
Following the presentations, Louisville District Assistant Operations Manager Shawn Kenney and McAlpine Lockmaster Dewey Takacy conducted a tour of the McAlpine Locks and Dam for the participants and their spouses. The group then visited and toured the Louisville Repair Station.
The second day started at the downtown YMCA with a group physical training event.
“I really enjoyed testing out the new PT test and getting a feel for the new standards we will have to meet,” said 1st Lt. Tori Amato, Louisville District architect. “Doing each of the events before the new test is put in place helped us figure out what our weaknesses are so we can work on them.”
At the end of the physical training session the group had a relay contest among the districts.
“What a fun way to end the training session,” Amato said. “I love a good competition.”
Afterwards the group attended an engineering branch brief, had career focused one-on-one sit downs and visited veterans at Louisville’s Robley Rex VA Medical Center.
“My favorite part of the event was hearing from the Engineer branch officers and the one-on-one sessions,” said 1st Lt. Shakeel Harper-Hernandez, a Louisville District engineer. “It gave a clear view on what is going on for my year group and helped me understand what I can do now as a junior leader to properly map out my career progression.”
The final day consisted of a group run at the Louisville Waterfront’s Big Four Bridge and a tour of the supporting infrastructure for the Metropolitan Sewer District.
There were a total of 39 military officers and five spouses in attendance representing all division districts which include Louisville, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Huntington, Nashville and Pittsburgh.
“The event served as an opportunity to build camaraderie amongst the geographically separated districts,” said Capt. Kyle Brinks, Louisville District project manager and event coordinator.
There were several social events that focused on the unique culture of Louisville, including a tour of Churchill Downs, a tour and meal at Kentucky Peerless Distilling, and dinner at Louisville’s Sports and Social Club.
“Being geographically separated, it's important for the officers of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division to maximize the limited time we are able to spend together,” said Louisville District deputy commander Lt. Col. Kevin Lewis. “From learning about the Louisville District to seeing the local sights, the officers who participated were able to gain a better understanding of our mission and the environment in which we execute. It was a great success and something we will definitely replicate at other locations in the future.”