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News | Oct. 4, 2022

DHRS Senior Leaders Gather in Columbus for Summit

By Dan Bender DLA Training

More than 60 senior leaders from across the various organizations that comprise the Defense Logistics Agency’s Human Resources Services, the operational arm of and largest organization in DLA J1, gathered in Columbus Sept. 20-22 for a leadership summit to network and strategize for the future.

The summit, titled “Leveraging Agility and Integration,” was hosted by DLA Training and included two and a half days of interaction and information, including professional development sessions, teambuilding, and an optional tour of the DLA Training studios.

In opening remarks to the audience, DLA Human Resources Director Sharyn Saunders pointed out “we are moving into a time of innovation and transformation” and that it will be important to respond to the needs of customers, including making sure DLA HR is easy to access and understand.

“We really need to be focused on the ability of our customers to access us,” she said. “We want them to enjoy working with us and see us as a strategic partner and provider of great services.”

DHRS Director Tanya Everett said the summit was the first time senior leaders from across DHRS had gathered in one location and that doing so was very beneficial.

“We saw this as an opportunity to meet and strategize on how we as an organization and as individual senior leaders are going to operationally support our customers, J1, ourselves, and DLA in the coming year,” she said, adding that it was “even more impactful” to be able to meet in person after more than two years of everyone being apart due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the goals of holding the summit were “connecting and building rapport and camaraderie, and focusing on how we add strategic value, gain trust and manage competing priorities while delivering positive customer and employee experiences; we embrace the opportunity to spark creativity, innovate, and equip ourselves with data-driven insights and people analytics to support talent-driven transformation,” Everett said. “It's our mission to create more agile, sustainable, cost-effective, and future-ready HR solutions to enable our customers to more effectively meet their mission and goals.”

The first day included a presentation on Myers-Briggs personality type indicators from DLA Training instructor Dr. Bill Velbeck and a presentation on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility from DLA Training instructor Nap Walker and Oscar Mariona-Acosta, staff director in the DLA Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity.

Walker said their presentation focused on defining those four items and how to “foster an effective inclusive environment.”

“We had some good conversations,” he said, adding that he was glad to put faces to names of people he’s taught during the past couple of years. “For me, being back in the auditorium and back in the classroom was wonderful because that’s what I like to do, and I think [the attendees] appreciated that too.”

The second day sessions included The Resilient Manager by instructor Rochelle Anderson, Emotional Intelligence by instructor Kathleen Kinney, and Leading in a Virtual Environment by Velbeck. In addition, Paul Ocasio and Robert Neal provided an information session on budget management, and HR Information Systems Director Lynne Horton and Deputy Director Frank Yacono spoke on automation enhancements that will help improve HR workflow and services in the future. The third day included a motivational presentation from corporate trainer Ed Blunt.

DLA Training Director Yolanda Howell said she was excited to be able to host the event, in part because it offered an opportunity to “showcase the amazing talent we have on our staff,” from the instructors to those involved in planning and coordinating the summit.

“It was an excellent display of our team and the work we do,” she said.

In addition, “it was great to have an opportunity to connect with colleagues and to be able to speak to them in person.”

Jackie Alamo, chief of Defense Civilian Human Resources Management Systems, said the summit provided an opportunity to do some self-reflection about working in a virtual environment and the importance of reconnecting and “bridging the gap” that can exist in such an environment.

“In a virtual world, you lose that connection with your co-workers and team members,” she said, adding that one big takeaway for her was “learning resiliency in a virtual environment and putting the methods we covered in class into practice. This will help us all become better leaders.”

Lisa Biggers, a team manager in the DoD Customers organization, said the summit was valuable for her.

“It brought all of us together and we were actually able to meet in person and get to know one another,” she said. “I hope to see more of this type of thing going forward.”

Biggers, a DLA employee since 2008, said she learned some “valuable little nuggets” from the breakout sessions each day.

“They will help me go back and have some good conversations with my team members,” she said.