RICHMOND, VA –
Over the last three weeks, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Public Affairs has run a series of stories spotlighting the DLA Pathways to Career Excellence (PaCE) Program and the experiences of those who are just beginning the program, those halfway through and those who have successfully graduated. Today, we conclude the series profiling two recent graduates who came up through the program together: Jennifer Williams, contracting specialist, AVN Engines and Airframes Division and Andrew Collins, acquisitions specialist, Joint Commodities Division, both within the Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation.
For the last two decades, the DLA Pathways to Career Excellence (PaCE) Program has trained entry-level personnel for advancement to the journey-level in professional, administrative and technological career fields.
Participants enter the two-year program at predominantly the General Schedule (GS-7 ) pay level and are targeted to the GS-11 or GS-12 level upon successful completion of the program.
The program supports DLA’s People and Culture Plan, ensuring the agency attracts and develops a diverse, skilled and agile workforce.
Andrew Collins and Jennifer Williams began their two-year journey together in 2018.
"He’s one of my closet friends," Williams said.
Williams is a contracting specialist in the Aviation Engines and Airframes Division within Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate. She retired from the Army in May 2014 after a 22-year career as a food service specialist.
Collins, a retired Army engineer maintenance warrant officer, is an acquisition specialist working in the directorate’s Joint Commodities Division.
"The PaCE Program is a great entry-level program for veterans and recent graduates to enter federal service," he said.
Both Williams and Collins chose the pathways’ Procurement Program track.
Natarsha Goode is the branch chief for the Procurement Process Support Directorate’s Training Branch and oversees the procurement track.
She said the program encompasses an array of training inclusive of four-five months of local foundational training provided by the Procurement Process Support Directorate, formal classroom and online training and on-the-job training. This training includes an overview of the Defense Department and DLA, as well as a broad scope of procurement related topics in order of solicitation, evaluation, award and post award phases.
Guest speakers ensure PaCErs have a holistic understanding of DLA Aviation’s mission and each directorate’s role in meeting agency needs.
After the foundational training, Goode said the PaCErs move to OTJ training.
Collins began OTJ training in July 2018 and Williams followed in September. Both said they were well prepared by the Procurement Training Branch to take this next step.
"I was surrounded by great supervisors and team members from my future division, along with my classmates from Class 35. They helped me throughout the duration of the program. They provided additional guidance and training if we needed it after we got to our divisions," Collins said.
Williams and Collins completed the program in March, but a formal graduation will not be held until sometime in the fall.
Pamela Latker is the chief of the Career Management Division at DLA Training in Columbus, Ohio. She oversees the PaCE Program enterprisewide. She said over these past 20 years, 1,050 people like Williams, Collins, and Alyzza Mace and Robert Sparks, individuals featured in the past two stories of this series, have successfully completed the DLA PaCE program in Richmond.
While both Williams and Collins said it would’ve been nice having a formal graduation ceremony right after completing the program, nothing will take away from the invaluable experiences they gained over the last two years.
"It’s been a great experience. A lot of veterans look to rejoin a team once they exit the military and it looks like I found a great one to be a part of at DLA Aviation," Collins said.
"The camaraderie the PaCE program builds is something we will keep throughout our time in the government and beyond. We were able to help each other learn various parts of our job and we continue to help each other learn and grow," Williams said.
For more information on the program, visit DLA Pathways to Career Excellence (PaCE) Program
Links to previous stories in this series:
DLA PaCE Program bringing in the best of the best in quest for superior support to the nation’s warfighters:
DLA PaCEr halfway to fulfilling career milestone: https://www.dla.mil/AboutDLA/News/NewsArticleView/Article/2172435/dla-pacer-halfway-to-fulfilling-career-milestone/