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News | March 13, 2023

DLA Energy trainees set the PaCE for the future

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started, seven Pathways to Career Excellence Program trainees graduated during a ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, March 9.

PaCE is a two-year Defense Logistics Agency training program for entry-level associates that provides a comprehensive enterprise perspective of logistics support.

DLA Energy PaCE graduates Christopher Gabro, Sylvie Hullinger, Randall Legions, Monica Martin, Brandon Moses and Everette Ready were recognized for their dedication in completing the program.

Gabby Earhardt, DLA Energy Head of the Contracting Activity, began her career as a DLA intern and shared her enthusiasm with the audience.

“You’ve worked hard these past two years; you’ve studied, kept up with your training requirements, worked a full-time job, put off vacations, given up your weekends and probably lost some sleep as you managed the intense requirements of this program,” Earhardt said. “You’ve sacrificed a lot to earn the seat in which you’re sitting. I hope you’re all proud of yourselves and what you have accomplished!”

Lashana Crone is the DLA Career Management division chief and manages the DLA PaCE Program for the DLA Major Subordinate Commands. Like Earhardt, she began her DLA career as an intern.

“The Program is no walk in the park,” she said during her remarks. “We have high expectations for our graduates. This group started during the height of the pandemic, but your tenacity and resilience to push through is the reason why you’re here today.”

Everette Ready served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 29 years and was a DLA Aviation employee when he learned about the PaCE Program. He had recently completed his master’s degree when he applied.

“The PaCE program was the ideal route for me to take and receive the necessary training to be a contract specialist and possibly a contract officer,” he said.

For Christopher Gabro, he didn’t know anything about DLA and had never served in the miliary. He had friends working in the government who said the benefits are great.

“I was looking to get my foot in the door into federal government,” Gabro said. “I was fortunate to get hired during COVID. My entire team trained me via telework. I was amazed at how professional everyone was.”

During their training, participants received permanent, full-time employment, competitive salaries, benefits, and career advancement. They enter the Program at the GS-7 pay level and are targeted to the GS-11 or GS-12 level upon successful completion of the requirements.

Brandon Moses had been an intern with the Department of State Foreign Service Institute and graduated from Virginia Tech in May 2020. He discovered the PaCE Program announcement while searching the USAJOBS website.

“I knew nothing about DLA or what government contracting entailed,” he said. “After researching the PaCE program, I recognized it would be an awesome opportunity to succeed in the world of government contracting.”

PaCE participants learn through on-the-job assignments, cross-training, rotational assignments, and formal training in the classroom, online, and at conferences and seminars.

Monica Martin, a May 2020 University of Maryland graduate, said she also stumbled onto the DLA PaCE program during her job search. 

“I was interested in the contracting career path and had some prior utility experience from an internship with the Maryland Department of the Environment, so I decided to apply,” she said. “The experience has been great. The PaCE program is set up where I had a mix of on the job and classroom training. I found that connecting the dots between the two learning atmospheres was invaluable.”

Earhardt urged the graduates to never stop learning.

“I’ll caution you against seeing this as a moment when you say, ‘I’ve done it, I’m finished, I’ve arrived,’” Earhardt said. “I instead encourage you to see this and say, ‘What’s next?’ ‘Where will my next big challenge come from?’ ‘How can I best contribute to this agency, to the DoD, to the warfighter and to the nation?’”

Earhardt thanked the DLA Energy Acquisition Workforce Development Team for their hard work managing the DLA Energy PaCE Program and for putting together the first graduation ceremony since the pandemic.

Recruitment for the PaCE Program positions occurs in the Spring and Fall and is advertised on USAJOBS. If you are interested in becoming a PaCE participant, set up a USAJOBS email notification to receive announcements when positions are open.