WINCHESTER, Va. — Pete DeMattei and Daryl Puffinburger are the two latest graduates of the Transatlantic Division’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) Tier 3.
The Leadership Development Program is a USACE program designed to provide a progressive avenue to develop and train leaders at all levels as part of “building the bench,” according to Elaine Lawson, a program facilitator. The two-year program requires a great amount of dedication from the individuals involved, and from the team members supporting their development.
For the Tier III program, TAD provides GS-11 through GS-13 employees with the opportunity to experience a regional perspective on leadership, identify and develop their own leadership qualities, and participate in various senior-level USACE activities within the Transatlantic Division. TAD’s program includes access to the region’s senior leaders, leadership philosophies and practices, and participation in and exposure to regional governance bodies.
“This is an essential professional development program and succession planning tool used to develop high performing employees, as they progress to serve at more senior levels. We must train our leaders to be agile, have broad perspectives, and be successful results-oriented change agents,” said Lawson. “Leadership development supports the overarching USACE goals of preparing for tomorrow, shaping our workforce, and preparing our leaders for a dynamic, competitive, and technical future.”
“This leadership program is not like any of the others I have been a part of. The discussions held with our facilitators were engaging, and the field trips were eye opening,” said DeMattei. “Overall I feel that LDP III helped me identify hidden strengths – and a few weaknesses – that have kept me from reaching my true potential. I leave this program with greater confidence than I had coming into it, and I look forward to where I am headed professionally.”
“I have always believed in the LDP program and was very excited when I was selected to be a participant,” said Puffinburger. “I have grown immensely with the training and development that was shared with me. The meetings were encouraging and made me find a different side of my ‘normal’ stay-in-the-box self.
“It gave me courage to speak my thoughts and ideas to higher level individuals within the DOD,” she added. “Because of this, I applied for a Rotational Assignment Position with Department of the Army, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Defense Exports and Cooperation (DASA DE&C) and was selected. I’ve also applied for a PCS to Germany and was selected; another adventure that probably would not have happened without LDP and the encouragement of the facilitators.”
Lawson said Puffinburger and DeMattei exemplified many unique and special qualities, but noted several that stood out to her: dedication and commitment, a willingness to “step outside the box,” eagerness to learn, great team players, and the desire to become a better person, both personally and professionally.
“I was very impressed with the two of you,” said TAD Commander Col. Christopher Beck during the graduation ceremony. “I applaud you for the personal commitment you’ve shown to get through this program. It shows that you’re not worried about just yourself. You are going to give back.
“The challenge for you guys is that no matter where you fit in, or what the circumstances are, how do you take what you’ve just learned over the last couple years and really implement that for the team?” continued Beck. “This (program) is a very important commitment for our organization to our future. What you’ve learned as part of this program will have valuable benefits for you personally, and for this organization for years to come.”
The two graduates both spoke at the ceremony and discussed some of their individual experiences and the program’s highlights.
“For me, it all started at the program kickoff meeting,” said DeMattei. “I was awe-struck with the show the Division leadership put on for two District employees. Due to our small class size, I did not expect much. I surely never imagined that all of the TAD leadership would attend. It showed me they believed in the LDP program, and they were committed. I am still impressed to this day how the TAD leadership made the kickoff meeting their priority.
“Then, the Capitol Hill visit was probably one of the most enjoyable week-long classes I have been a part of. I learned so much, and this visit changed my perspective of the way Congress works,” continued DeMattei. “The CENTCOM visit was a great way to wrap up our LDP 3 trips. At the end of the trip, I left with a much better understanding of the CENTCOM mission and how USACE fits into that mission.”
“Going to CENTCOM was the biggest highlight, other than getting to know the facilitators and the other participant,” said Puffinburger. “After working for USACE for over 25 years, I was able to see a bigger piece of the puzzle of how we fit into what is going on in the Department of Defense.
“It was very nice also that the leadership at TAD stayed very involved with the program, which meant that they believed in it and supported it,” she added.
“I cannot express how grateful I am for the leadership of Margret Jones and Elaine Lawson,” said DeMattei. “While I certainly recognize there are others who have helped shape the program, I feel that duo took it to the next level.
“To sum it up,” he said, “the field trips were fantastic, the books were thought provoking, but the people made all the difference.”
LDP Tiers 1 & 2 are at the District Level, Tier 3 is at the Division Level and Tier 4 is at HQ USACE. The next TAD LDP III program will start in September or October 2020.