COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. Kristen Fabry shared her leadership philosophy and impressions from her first two months on the job with associates in a DLA live-streamed Town Hall Sept. 10.
Fabry assumed command of DLA Land and Maritime and the Defense Supply Center Columbus July 17.
“I’ve learned so much in the past nearly sixty days from each and every one of you – I’m impressed by the amazing things we do here at Land and Maritime,” Fabry said. “I’ve observed and met a smart, talented, innovative team – a group of problem-solvers with a can-do attitude who are dedicated, loyal and proud of their accomplishments.”
DLA Land and Maritime has been under a maximum telework situation since the statewide shutdown began in mid-March due to COVID-19. Despite thousands of associates working from home during the pandemic, Land and Maritime continued to succeed in various initiatives including the Special Emergency Procurement Authority, Auto Indefinite-Delivery Contract effort, Engineering Support Activity program and Small Business virtual training.
“SEPA was born here at Land and Maritime,” Fabry said. “That concept is managed through our acquisition team led by Mark Brown and all of the great forward presence people here at Land and Maritime. Meticulous execution at the shipyards and DLR detachments has provided critical parts at a much faster rate, increased thresholds and ability to buy for our warfighter, which is a huge strategic advantage to us.”
Fabry stated the initiative accelerated urgent procurements to approximately 400 critical weapon systems – getting parts into the hands of those who use these systems faster than ordinary contracting measures.
Likewise, Land and Maritime continues to lead the agency in the AIDC effort, which automates awards that meet a certain criteria. Fabry reported about 6,000 awards made so far through the highly automated process launched earlier this year.
Fabry praised the Engineering Support Activity cost-avoidance initiative, which brings organic support in-house and saves DLA costs associated with initiating a DLA Form 339 with a service’s support activity. That effort is led by the Engineering and Technical Operations Directorate, which also plans to stand up a Battery Test Lab later this fall.
On the small business front, DLA Land and Maritime’s Office of Small Business Programs transitioned their Training, Knowledge and Opportunities seminars online during the pandemic to accommodate small businesses unable to travel for the typical two-day in-person training. TKOs offer free training to small businesses to teach them more about DLA and how to navigate the government contracting process with the goal of increasing small business partnerships. Organizers saw a significant increase in attendance once virtual programming began in May – with registrations growing from an average of 50 per seminar up to 200 by the end of the summer.
“This may be one of those new, innovative things that we continue to do long after we’re out of this COVID environment,” Fabry said.
The installation remains at Phase 0 with maximum telework, while leaders continue to plan for the workforce’s return.
“We have a very strong drumbeat and battle rhythm to make sure we methodically approach all of the gating criteria and evaluate the environment so that we can make sure it’s safe for everyone to return,” Fabry stated.
As a parent of three school-aged children, the commander said she’s aware of the challenges faced by many DLA Land and Maritime employees with children learning at home as school districts grapple with virtual or hybrid classroom environments. Fabry discussed a workforce flexibility tool for supervisors to allow greater flexibility to employees. “We will make sure you can accomplish your job and take care of your family with the greatest flexibility to accomplish our mission here at Land and Maritime,” she said.
Fabry encouraged associates to visit the reconstitution playbook on the share drive for additions and updates on the installation’s reconstitution plans. “It’s a living, breathing document updated regularly and it’s full of information as you prepare to return to the workplace,” she said.
Throughout the Town Hall, Fabry shared her professional outlook and priorities developed over the course of her naval career – a career that has included several operational assignments and deployments to the Mediterranean, Western Pacific and Persian Gulf. She also served as the commissioning supply officer for a brand new construction destroyer in Maine, gaining valuable experience she brings with her to DLA.
“I’m not a stranger to the importance of our mission and what DLA Land and Maritime does to provide critical parts and support to our ships and warfighters,” she said. “In this great power competition, where we’re demanding our military forces be more agile, more adaptive, more lethal – their readiness is critical in the fight and we at DLA are critical to providing that to our forces.”
Fabry stressed the importance of teamwork, pride in service and integrity in everything Land and Maritime does, while creating and supporting an environment of respect and inclusion.
“Each of us as individuals are so much greater working together as a team…we can accomplish so much more if we collaborate and work together rather than working in silos or separately,” she said.
Fabry encouraged every member of the team to speak up, and to foster environments where every member of the team can feel safe and comfortable doing so.
“Honor, courage and commitment underpin all we do – our integrity is our hallmark,” Fabry said. “Have the courage to speak up, whether it’s something that doesn’t look right or whether it’s an idea you have. You need to share that; you need to collaborate. Because if you don’t raise your hand and don’t share your voice, your voice is not heard and that’s our loss and disadvantage. Everyone should have the courage to act and speak up, and the diligence to see it through.”
Fabry noted that keeping communication lines open has become more imperative than ever. She encouraged associates across all levels of the organization to use all communication modes available to check on each other and bring up questions.
“My motto is you can never over-communicate,” Fabry said. “Communication is not one of those things where you can check the block and say ‘okay, I’ve talked to my employees, I’m done.’ No. It’s each and every day, each and every week – it’s a continuous process. Please continue to be vigilant and communicate with our teams.”
In concluding her first Town Hall, the commander addressed several questions submitted in advance by associates touching on a variety of topics including reconstitution plans, the tuition assistance program and professional acquisition certification course requirements.
In response to a question on tuition assistance requirements, Fabry advocated for continuing education among associates, especially education courses that further understanding and knowledge to enhance job ability. The program is managed through DLA Human Resources and DLA Headquarters, and Fabry stated the Land and Maritime team is looking at program participation.
An associate brought up concerns with DLA course allotments related to Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act certifications and asked about increasing seat allotments. DAWIA certification is a requirement for the acquisition workforce and in some cases can take up to two years to receive. Fabry addressed the recent influx of virtual enrollment related to COVID and encouraged associates to engage early with their supervisor and training officer to project out the courses they need to enroll in later. In this way, supervisors and training officers can anticipate how many DLA seats are needed.
“If seats are limited [in a course] it may be that we didn’t log enough interest in these different classes, so we haven’t forecasted the right numbers for them,” Fabry said. “Only through letting your supervisor and training team know what classes you’re interested in, updating your performance plan and individual development plan for courses you need to help further your career, can we make sure that we forecast the right amount of seats.”
Earlier in the program, Fabry congratulated the most recent class of Level III Mentoring Program graduates Nicole Betts, Tommy Botts, Donna Clark, Angela Fugate, Renee Magill, Coleen McCormick, Joseph Meyer, Dr. Alessia Payne, Roy Pitman and Mary Shearer. The two-year program is a competitively selected leadership program to develop executive level competencies with distinguished mentor leaders within Land and Maritime.
The following employees received deployer awards and were recognized for their contributions: Richard Bulson, Donna Clark, Joshua Clementz, Robert Martell, William Matthews, John Nazario, Luna Velez, Todd Lewis, Toney Madison and Michael Thompson.
Associates can watch the Town Hall video here (CAC-enabled).