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News | Sept. 21, 2020

QA supervisor spends summer getting ‘calories in bellies’

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

Air Force Maj. Misty Kadow spent her summer helping others in need.

Kadow, a Defense Contract Management Agency team member, used her contracting and safety skills during a recent three-month deployment with the Texas Air National Guard to assist the Montgomery County Food Bank feed the local residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Conroe, Texas. She is a part of the 147th Attack Wing based at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston.

“The mission of the Montgomery County Food Bank in Conroe is to get calories in bellies,” she said. “The benefit our unit provided was the ability to make that faster, more efficient and get more food to the community than they have ever been able to do in a 90-day span. We supported 45 mobile distribution activities from April to July.”

During her that time, Kadow’s unit helped the organization give out 1.6 million meals to the local community.

In her civilian job, Kadow is a quality assurance supervisor at DCMA Lockheed Martin Grand Prairie, which is a tertiary command under DCMA Dallas. Kadow has been with the agency for 14 years.

“We learned that the Montgomery County Food Bank has an enormous mission,” she said, after serving as the program’s officer-in-charge. “They have 64 partnerships that they service, but the interesting part that I could bring to the table was learning about their facility, contracts and safety and use my skills to help them.”

Kadow’s quality assurance skills came in handy during her first week at the food bank. She noticed the organization’s vendors were not using the correct packaging. She informed the food bank’s management to contact the United States Department of Agriculture inspector and the vendor. The food items were set aside so the staff could identify the lot and date the items.

“A situation like this can help the manufacturer or packing distributor identify the machinery that malfunctioned and implement corrective and preventive maintenance actions. They can also prevent the distributor from losing contracts or serving contaminated food to the community,” said Kadow.

Besides reviewing food items and contracts, Kadow also used her safety skills to help the staff. During her deployment, Kadow spent time each day noting areas of concern and improvement.

“I conducted a site safety walk-around every day. I treated this facility as I would my hangar or one of my facilities at Lockheed Martin. If I have employees in a building, it is my responsibility as the supervisor or OIC to identify and mitigate the hazards to ensure their safety,” said Kadow.

Kadow said that she identified safety hazards such as blocked fire exits, blocked fire extinguishers and inaccessible eye wash stations. Once identified, the staff and Kadow’s unit corrected those issues. In addition, Kadow offered other safety solutions that were beneficial to the food bank staff, including making sure staff slowed down while using forklifts to prevent injuries. She also reevaluated the stacking limitations for pallets.

Because of her expertise, she provided safety briefings and process improvement briefings to the food bank leadership, warehouse employees, and to the Army and Air Force leadership in the Texas Air National Guard, so everyone could see the skills military personnel bring to the table during a deployment.

Kadow’s skillset allowed the food bank to work more efficiently when delivering food to various partners. This included other food pantries, which provided food to homeless families, at-risk youth, senior centers, emergency shelters for teens and a battered women’s shelter. The 45 mobile distribution sites also provided nutritious food to Texas residents who live in rural food desert areas and homebound seniors who receive non-perishable food delivered weekly by Meals on Wheels.

In addition, Kadow worked with the food bank on its Backpack Buddies program. The program provides school-aged children, who get free or reduced lunch, with five to seven meals weekly. They meals are placed in the backpacks so the children have food to eat over the weekend. Kadow said her unit created almost 9,000 bags for the program, which covered the entire summer.

Besides the Texas National Guard, Kadow has previously served within other military components. She has more than 29 years of military service, to include Air Force active-duty, Louisiana Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve.

Kadow said she also serves others outside of her military service. She encouraged DCMA employees to serve their local community through volunteering.

“We can help,” said Kadow. “We can put our amazing technical skill sets to work by volunteering in the community. We can also set up food drives or other events ourselves.”

As a DCMA civilian, Kadow has been a QA supervisor for 10 years. She supervises eight employees. Her team provides support for various programs, including the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. Throughout Kadow’s volunteer deployment, she said her QA team remained focused on their mission during the pandemic.

“I have a strong team so even when I am not physically present they can do the work without me,” she said. “During this time with the feeling of helplessness and watching people all around the world struggle, it was an amazing opportunity to be able to do something for someone else. This experience helped me understand that circumstances can change very quickly, and it has made me more humble. Watching families struggle to feed their children is an eye-opening experience.”

Besides using her professional skills, the deployment encouraged Kadow to mentor others, both as an officer and a civilian team member.

“I have learned many younger personnel at DCMA are not provided the mentorship I have been fortunate to have experienced. I am taking this opportunity to look at the leadership of my team to ensure I am giving them all the same tools that I am trying to provide to the next leaders of the Texas Air National Guard,” she said.

Overall, Kadow is proud to serve her country, both as a DCMA employee and in the military.

“It was a great experience in which I know I made a difference,” she said. “I utilized my DCMA training with the manufacturing theory of constraints, lean manufacturing and continuous process improvement, to leave the warehouse as structured as possible. We redesigned the food distribution points and ensured as many safety protocols were put in place as lessons were learned. Duty, honor, Texas.”