Kluczynski, developer of leaders, to join DLA Hall of Fame

By Christopher Goulait

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A program that helps transform Defense Logistics Agency employees into leaders is a legacy that earned Paula Kluczynski a posthumous place in the DLA Hall of Fame Sept. 20.

Kluczynski in 2004 was an essential partner in creating the New Supervisor Certificate Program Level 3, which at the time was the only certificate program available in the Department of Defense to offer a two-year systematic program to enhance leadership skills.

“As developer and manager of this groundbreaking program, Ms. Kluczynski oversaw the successful transition of newly appointed DLA supervisors into leadership positions within the agency. Through Ms. Kluczynski’s leadership and management, this program became and is still recognized as an industry best practice across both public and private sectors,” said Angela Scott-Tucker, chief of the Supply Chain Logistics Training Division. 

April 2016 marks 12-year anniversary of the program. 

During her tenure, Kluczynski handled more than 1,700 program graduates and managed more than 700 participants in the program while maintaining outstanding customer service, Scott-Tucker said.

After managing the program for more than eight years until her retirement in June 2012, Kluczynski continued to provide insight and advice to her former coworkers until her death in February 2015. Her 35-year career included other leadership roles from the Office
of Comptroller and Human Resources to the Equal Employment Opportunity Office before she joined DLA Human Resources Services in the 1990s.

In addition to her program accomplishments, how she approached her work is also part of her lasting impact.

“Through my history of working with Paula, first as a DLA supervisor with assignment to the Level 3 program, then as a DLA Training forward presence and co-worker, I personally witnessed Paula’s approach to daily work duties in a fierce, determined manner,” said Jacqueline Nelson, program manager for DLA Training. “But Paula also found the time to work with others … in a patient and kind manner.

“Her approach ensured others, including myself, learned properly to provide quality service to the DLA workforce,” Nelson said.

Before undertaking a new challenge, Kluczynski would also put in a good deal of time and effort to research and manage a large number of details, aiming to “begin with the end in mind,” according to Bill Velbeck, program analyst with DLA Training.

She would display great authenticity in her leadership and teaching as well, Velbeck said.

“I had the privilege to co-teach a number of leadership classes with her over the years. The course we taught together included a discussion of ethics. Paula always opened that discussion by reciting the oath of office that we all took, then asking the new supervisors what that oath meant to them,” Velbeck said. 

“When it was her turn to say what it meant to her, she told a story of a visit she made to the Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island. She invariably became tearful as she described watching the young men and women training to put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect our country. I know that everyone in the room was moved by Paula’s sincere emotional reaction to that experience.”

Whether it’s her passion or her actions, Kluczynski’s impression is still felt in DLA and applied to its training. 

Committed and determined, yet humble, Kluczynski approach served as a role model for how to look at training, Nelson said. Her work will live forever within DLA Training because she walked the talk of true and great leadership.

“Paula left a legacy of dedication, and a stubborn insistence on quality that we still talk about today,” Velbeck added.

Although Kluczynski is not able to accept a place in the DLA Hall of Fame herself, Al Kluczynski will accept on his wife’s behalf.

He noted one area of pride for his wife was how other federal agencies and the military services looked at DLA’s program as a best practice.

“Paula relished and took great pride in being recognized as the subject matter expert within DoD and the private sector,” Al Kluczynski said. “She was asked to brief her program at many high-level meetings, to include [with the Department of] Homeland Security when it was first created.”

Having a place in the DLA Hall of fame is a testament to his wife’s significant accomplishments, with creativity and years of human resource experience put to the test in development of the New Supervisor Certificate Program, Al Kluczynski said.

“From Paula’s perspective, I believe she would express her tremendous appreciation for management putting their trust in her and providing her with the tools she needed to develop this program,” he said. “DLA’s investment in her will have tremendous benefits for decades to come.”