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News | Sept. 13, 2022

DLA Energy contracting officers complete mentoring program

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Energy contracting officers completed another eight month long mentoring program cycle to sharpen their skills and continue expanding their training and education.

The participants were congratulated and recognized for their dedication to their professional development during a virtual closing ceremony Aug. 24.

“You put your professional growth in front of everything else – EXCEPT, of course, your dedication to the Warfighter, which remains your number one priority,” said DLA Energy Head of the Contracting Activity Gabriella Earhardt. “You all are resilient. In fact, you’re the definition of resiliency. You suit up and show up, ready to hone your acquisition, communication and business skills.” 

The keynote speaker was Gordon Braxton who is currently the Acting Deputy Director for the DLA Energy Bulk Petroleum Supply Chain Services. He is also a highly respected contracting officer and former graduate of the DLA Energy mentoring program. 

Braxton reminded the graduates that they are never alone in their contracting role and responsibilities. He used the NASA Apollo 13 crew and mission as an example. Apollo 13 crew was the seventh in the Apollo space program and the third meant to land on the Moon. The mission may be most remembered for the famous line, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

“Whenever I experience something new to me, I pick up the phone and call ‘Houston,’” Braxton said. “Like the large team of professionals on the ground for the Apollo 13 crew, this mentoring program gives you access to a whole cohort of people to help you.”

The mentoring program is designed to be customized and value-added, said Program Manager Imani Mitchell. Her goal each year is to offer diverse technical and soft skill training sessions that engage the workforce, build professional networks, and help them develop well-rounded technical competence and leadership.

All DLA Energy contracting officers who are non-supervisory or first line supervisors are required to participate in the mentoring program every year. To earn a certificate of completion, participants must complete 75% of the program’s requirements. Each participant earns continuous learning points based on their participation that goes towards their Defense Department requirement to get 80 points over a two-year period. 

Six peer leaders led five groups through the program, keeping them on track and prepared for the various sessions and events. Shanice Whitfield, Ursula Waibel, Georgia Dotson, Shane Banks, Alberto Williams, Jr. and Mark Palombo each led a team of 12 contracting officers. These leaders earn additional continuous learning points for their guidance and leadership. 

Participants who complete 90% of the program requirements or more are inducted into the Head of the Contracting Authority Professional Development Circle of Excellence. For the fiscal 2022 program, Jasper Pili, Ursula Waibel, Tammie Campbell, Georgia Dotson, Angela Ponder, Shane Banks, Lawrence Watson, Matthew Womer, Agnieszka Mickens, Francis Murphy and Alicia Williams were bestowed the honor and distinction.  

“The HCA Circle of Excellence is a new initiative that started in 2021, specific to DLA Energy and its acquisition community,” Mitchell said. “It is an opportunity for the HCA to acknowledge your efforts to make your professional development a priority by going above and beyond.”  

Mitchell is part of the DLA Energy Acquisition Workforce Development and Intern Center. The office offers a wide variety of ways to motivate, encourage and guide the DLA Energy acquisition workforce throughout their careers. 

“The HCA Circle of Excellence is one of the many ways DLA Energy honors their commitment to being at the tip of the spear and laser focused on professionalism,” Mitchell said. “We want those in our acquisition workforce to take their professional development seriously and know they are valued, honored and recognized for their dedication.”

The inaugural class in fiscal 2021 included 25 members. They are: Jennifer Arthur, Stephanie Bennett, Roger Brown, Patricia Dominguez, Carly Dubernas, Keecha Elliott, Jonathan Goyena, Jose Jimenez-Figueroa, Cynthia Lopez, Maj. Joseph Misch, Crystal Renee Moore, Francis Murphy, Augustus "Gus" Patterson, Jasper Pili, Willard Ramseur, Carl Silverstone, Careka Squire, Tonya Sterling, Arlene Warren, Lawrence Watson, Mark West, Alberto Jr. Williams, Alicia Williams, Daisy Williams and Justin Wingo.

Membership in the Circle is on an annual basis allowing members the chance to be inducted multiple times adding to their achievements both for their annual reviews and on their resume. Jasper Pili, Lawrence Watson, Francis Murphy and Alicia Williams have earned the honor two years in a row. 

Stay tuned to see who makes the HCA Circle of Excellence next year. The 2023 cycle of the DLA Energy Contracting Officers Mentoring Program is scheduled to begin in January and 75 contracting officers are expected to participate.