South-East leaders share ideas

By Tim Hoyle, DLA Public Affairs, and Audrey Weber, South-East Deputy Director DLA Disposition Services

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Senior leaders from DLA Disposition Services travelled from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Jacksonville, Florida, last month to join employees from the South-East region for their tenth annual Leadership Training Seminar.

Attendees included all South-East supervisors and two non-supervisor employees to train and share ideas. “Sustaining the Momentum” was chosen as the theme, by joint leadership consensus, since the event was intended to bring the management team together to work on resolving the challenges facing the sites to share ideas and practices to enhance warfighter support.

This was the first South-East summit that DLA Disposition Services’ Chief of Staff Pete Foreman attended.  Foreman started the discussions by sharing DLA Disposition Services’ Director Mike Cannon’s vision and direction on warfighter first, Defense Department reforms to reduce costs and audibility.  

“People appreciated his insight and how he articulated the importance of their role, to support agency-wide and regional goals,” South-East Director Kathy Atkins-Nuñez said.  

Training included a review of the latest Dennison Culture Survey data, how to interpret and use it, and make improvements. There were also talks by Legal Counsel Gordon Jimison on ethics as well as labor and employee relations. Carlos Torres from Contracting spoke on the status of sales contracts while Operations Director Arthur Welsh and Nina Ekblad, from Operations’ Inventory Branch, addressed a variety of operational topics including the Battle Creek Realignment, standard operating procedures, inventory strategy, excess to disposal, foreign military sales and accountable officer training. Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist Lakeea Kelly and the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Robin Rogers also spoke.

Safety was highlighted throughout the entire week with a homework topic of “Safety First.” The mission of the attendees was to work with their hub teams to create a video, briefing, skit, or some other method to share what they have done or plan to do to make “safety first” a priority and a daily habit at sites for DLA personnel and its customers.  Through the hub team efforts the attendees met “Captain Safety” from Bragg, a “newscast” about a safety incident at Anniston while Lejeune created a video on the proper way to operate MHE in a warehouse. They also saw how Jacksonville the ways they communicate about safety, Campbell and its associated sites presented a comedic look at their approach, Eglin presented a video of their weekly safety discussion and safe MHE operation and Warner Robins highlighted multiple activities under each of the letters in SAFE -- supervisors, assess risk, facilities, everyone.  Additionally, Patrick Havens, a DLA Installation Regional Safety contact, provided interactive training to enhance skills in investigating mishaps.

The last day and a half continued talks on safety, demilitarization procedures, Agency Program Review metrics and how to interpret them, evidential matter for audits and where to file the material, and the Dynamic Operating Plan. On Thursday all participants visited the Jacksonville site and received tips from Atkins-Nuñez on how and what to look for when you walk through a warehouse or outside storage area, when performing Management By Walking Around.

For the two non-supervisory personnel who attended the seminar, area managers nominated up and coming “leaders.” The nominees were chosen using a blind drawing that picked Property Disposal Specialist Raphael Berrios, from the Fort Benning, Georgia, and Property Disposal Specialist Karla Hambrick, from Eglin, Florida. 

“Our days were packed full and one could see the comradery among the different site personnel,” Berrios said. “Overall, it was an eventful and engaging conference that I would definitely recommend to whomever has the opportunity.”

Hambrick said the events opened her eyes to the inner workings of the leadership and supervision across the South-East region. 

“Ideas were pushed out by all and, with the help of the entire South-East team we can continue to grow as a unit,” Hambrick said.  “We gained valuable insight on changes to the agency as well as upcoming changes to the field and the metric processes and why it’s important.” 

Attendees had some fun with team building exercises and site competitions. Both types of activities allowed them the opportunity to work with others from different sites and create networking opportunities in the field.