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News | Feb. 27, 2020

Mentoring takes center stage at program's graduation

By Brenda Minnema DLA Land and Maritime People and Culture

The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Deputy Commander Kenneth Watson got up close and personal with graduating mentees and their mentors at the 2019/2020 Level I Mentoring Program graduation Feb. 26 in the Defense Supply Center Columbus Operations Center Auditorium.

After remarking on the “awesome job” by the master of ceremony, Gregory Ramsey, in his speech, the deputy commander celebrated the achievements of the 20 associates who completed the program along with the 30 mentors who guided them. 

But it’s what Watson did next that so many were talking about after the event. The Senior Executive Service leader stepped off of the stage to sit at eye-level and address the graduates and mentors.

Continuing his remarks, Watson spoke on the mentor/mentee relationship and how the connection forged through mentoring can continue long after graduates complete the program.

Watson also credited the associates with taking the opportunity to invest in themselves and gain skills that will continue to benefit not just the Agency but also the Department of Defense.

Following Watson’s address to the group, the graduates and mentors joined him on stage to receive their certificates and take photos to commemorate their achievements. 

After the ceremony, several associates praised the deputy commander’s down-to-earth approach.

“I think Mr. Watson’s mannerism alone told us we were worthy by making it close-up and personal and addressing us in a ‘comfortable’ style,” said Level I Mentoring Program graduate Rita Hughes. 

Hughes said the biggest takeaway she got from Watson’s speech was his recommendation to “learn from those that have gone a route that we may want to follow and take their advice or at least take the time to listen.”

“Personally, I love that he made a point to come down to our level and talk to us,” said DLA Land and Maritime mentor JoAnn Phillips. “He made it very evident that he values his people and their growth.  It shows the human aspect of our leadership which we are very blessed to have. They’ve always been very approachable, so to see the new SES come in and be so respectful was heartwarming. I look forward to his leadership here at DLA.”



The mission of the Level I Mentoring Program is to allow DLA Land and Maritime associates below the General Schedule and Wage Grade 9 levels to develop mentoring and protégé relationships with other associates, and build on their own personal and professional skills.

The program prepares associates for future career opportunities through a variety of ways including self-development modules, special project opportunities, self-assessments and self-development activities to help enhance their knowledge and skills.

More than 270 associates have graduated from the program since its inception in 2005.

For more information on DLA Land and Maritime’s mentoring programs, visit