The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District’s Leadership Development Program Level II participants graduated Aug. 15, 2019, in a ceremony held at the Romano Mazzoli Federal Building in Louisville, Kentucky. This 11-month professional development program is designed to help mold the future leaders of the Louisville District and the Corps of Engineers.
Wes Sydnor, director of intergovernmental relations with Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District, served as the keynote speaker at the ceremony offering his personal insights on leadership.
“We all have blind spots and sometimes you don’t want to hear the ugly truths about your behaviors,” said Sydnor to the twenty graduates who have spent the last year focusing on introspection. The program is designed to develop and improve leadership skills of participants through formal training, mentoring, experiential learning and life-long self-development.
“You are not a failure if you can learn from mistakes, grow from it, move on and do something better,” said Sydnor speaking of the many inevitable missteps and challenges one will face throughout their career. Sydnor says it is at those crossroads where one has to make the choice to go all in and live up to one’s potential or languish.
“You have a bright future in this community and in this organization so I applaud you for that,” said Sydnor. “Continue to find your passion, be mindful of the time you have and manage it wisely.”
Dr. Michael Evans, Evans and Associates Consulting Corporation, emphasized the importance of self-awareness. Evans has served as the instructor for the past 13 years helping more than 200 Louisville District employees become a better version of themselves.
“Leadership is in all of you,” Evans reminded the group. “It’s up to you what you do with that leadership. It’s a choice on whether or not we’re self-aware, whether we self-manage ourselves appropriately, whether we’re socially aware of what’s going on with other individuals around us and whether we use the concepts of emotional intelligence to embrace the relationships around us.”
Louisville District Commander Col. Antoinette Gant also addressed participants during the ceremony inspiring them with excerpts from “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss.
“LDP is all about understanding yourself better and taking what you have learned and applying it,” said Gant. “It’s so easy to go back to what you were comfortable with, but now that you have received some of these tools for your toolkit the challenge is to keep going and doing it, even if it’s outside of what you are comfortable with. Keep doing the things you have learned throughout this program to develop as a person. Because when we’re better people we ensure our organization becomes better, when our organization is better, we help to make the world better,” said Gant.
Gant also encouraged the graduates to recruit colleagues who might benefit from the Leadership Development Program.
“You are all charged with being ambassadors. Find one person that you can talk to and mentor and encourage them to take that great leap and learn about themselves in LDP 1, 2, or 3,” said Gant.
2019 LDP II graduate Candi Burchel, lead procurement analyst in the Regional Business Oversight Branch, discussed the benefits she received from the LDP program.
"LDPII has allowed me to step back and take a look into myself as a leader within the organization, as well as, in my personal life,” said Burchel. “The program challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and make real progress towards becoming a leader within USACE."
Similarly Shawn Kenney, operations managers for the locks and dams project office, joined the class to elevate his performance as a leader.
“I was very comfortable working in the trenches alongside the incredible folks in locks and dams, but they deserve a leader of the highest caliber who can support them by establishing a vision, aligning resources, and doing those intangible things that make USACE a great place to work,” said Kenney. “LDP certainly gave me the cross-functional knowledge to know where my element fits into the bigger picture for the district. I learned many valuable communication techniques to improve interaction and assure success on a daily basis, and seized the opportunity to network with senior leaders and my 19 classmates from around the district. LDP 2 definitely helped me elevate my game, and inspired me to keep growing and challenging myself.”