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News | Aug. 28, 2023

DCMA Cleveland personnel graduate from leadership training program

By DCMA Cleveland

Defense Contract Management Agency Cleveland employees, Suzanne Trocha and Gregory Bell, recently graduated from a Cleveland Federal Community Leadership Institute leadership training program. A ceremony culminated in a final project presentation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here June 15.

The program, which is sponsored by the Cleveland Federal Executive Board, is nine months and open to all federal employees in grades GS-9 to GS-13. It was created to help federal employees become effective leaders capable of addressing current and future challenges facing federal agencies.

“To remain competitive in today’s fast-paced job market, staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and continuously acquiring new skills is crucial,” said Army Lt. Col. Latia Wickliffe, DCMA Cleveland commander. “Members of DCMA Cleveland have taken up the challenge of pursuing leadership development as an essential aspect of career growth that empowers them to achieve their goals and develop professionally.”

Employees apply for the program by completing an in-depth application and answering various essay questions such as discussing innovative solutions they have created to solving problems, how their participation will benefit or help others, and describing their leadership characteristics. The application is then reviewed and endorsed by Wickliffe and submitted to the Cleveland Federal Executive Board for consideration.

If selected, employees spend 12 hours a month participating in the program by attending classes and group project meetings, either virtually or in person. During the sessions, participants get to meet top leaders in the public, private and academic sectors. The goals of the program are to support an individual’s personal and professional development goals, improve communication skills, enhance team leadership skills, and provide networking and collaboration opportunities.

Trocha is an industrial specialist and Bell is a quality assurance specialist. Their final group projects for the leadership program focused on assessing a local community need, determining how to support, and implementing a program for residents.

Trocha’s group assessed a need to support senior citizens throughout the Northeast Ohio area, so they connected with senior service coordinators within the Department of Senior Services in Lake County. Her group wanted to enhance the in-home safety of seniors by implementing a check-in program that communicates the senior’s safety status via a telephone calling system that calls the recipient each day to confirm safety. If communication is not established, others are notified, such as the local police, to check on the individual. Trocha’s group recommended the “Are you OK?” program, and the Lake County commissioner approved their recommendation. The program launched in July.

Trocha joined DCMA Cleveland in November 2019 as an industrial specialist overseeing contractor delivery performance for items ordered for the warfighter. Working with the contractors, Trocha tracks the progress of orders from order receipt through shipment to ensure product accuracy and on-time delivery. She said participating in the leadership program enhanced her career skills, and she enjoyed reading the book “Nonviolent Communication” by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg.

“The leadership program is an opportunity to gain skills that help create a supportive environment where everyone can be successful,” she said. “It is an opportunity to network and collaborate with employees from various government agencies. Overall, the program helped me to become more self-aware and have a critical eye on myself regarding being judgmental.”

Bell’s group focused on exposing more local high school students to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, also known as STEAM, opportunities. The team determined that lack of information was the leading cause of low participation in STEAM careers. As a result, the team created a career roadshow highlighting the correlation of several federal agencies with STEAM. The team provided high school guidance counselors and teachers with the points of contact for the agencies, and people from multiple agencies were invited for career days at select high schools.

“I have always enjoyed the STEAM career fields and wanted to try to impart that joy into today’s youth, and my teammates in the group felt the same way,” Bell said. “This project was the best way to do this. Our survey data conveyed an increase in an interest in the career fields, which was our goal from the start.”

As a QAS, Bell performs quality assurance surveillance activities, including monitoring critical safety items. He started with DCMA Cleveland in September 2018, and said he enjoys working for the agency because of the support he provides to warfighters. The leadership program helped him gain skills he can implement in his current position.

“I learned to involve myself more with team functions, like training personnel in quality assurance surveillance activity documentation,” said Bell. “The course also taught me to engage more in a leadership position by helping out my teammates with the complexities of entering data into (Product Data Reporting and Evaluation Program) surveillance plans.”

DCMA Cleveland senior leaders encourage all employees to apply for, and participate in, training programs to become more effective in their jobs and to prepare for future promotion opportunities. Wickliffe encourages the contract management office staff to apply for a variety of programs, including the agency’s Centralized Development Program. She said that Trocha and Bell are role models for other employees.

“We are incredibly proud of Greg and Suzanne’s dedication and hard work and celebrate their success,” said Wickliffe. “By investing in their education, they have enhanced their leadership skills and knowledge and set themselves apart, unlocking new opportunities for advancement. We look forward to their continued growth and success within DCMA.”