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Step 2 graduates of the Professional at all Levels program at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division are joined by Harlan Kooima, second from right, director of Software and Mission Systems Integration, and Melissa Finnell, right, NAWCWD chief of staff, following a graduation ceremony Dec. 4 at China Lake. (U.S. Navy photo)

Nineteen graduate from second tier of PaaL program

Nineteen employees at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division have learned how to lead themselves and others and, on Dec. 4, proved that they can lead teams after completing step 2 of the Professional at all Levels program during a graduation ceremony at China Lake.

The command-sponsored PaaL program uses three successive steps to provide foundational learning and skill development in areas that are strategically important to NAWCWD. After completing steps 1 and 2, “Leading Self and Others,” and “Leading Teams,” the graduates can go on to complete step 3, “Leading Organizations.”

During the ceremony, the fifth cohort of step 2 graduates presented their final development projects, which focused on bridging the gap between various teams through workshops, providing support for new members of the Engineer and Scientist Development Program, setting up mentoring and networking events for new and seasoned employees as well as improving the ESDP-mentor relationship within the Ranges Department.

“Vice Adm. Dean Peters had just taken command of NAVAIR when we were contemplating our final project ideas,” said Matthew Keehan, a PaaL Step 2 graduate. “He placed heavy emphasis on mission, people and relationships and that resonated with our team as PaaL has provided many insights regarding people and relationships. So for our project, we organized an opportunity with ESDP’s where we could share some of our experiences.”

Melissa Finnell, NAWCWD chief of staff and ceremony keynote speaker, shared her own experiences and career journey. She advised the graduates to seek to operate from conscience not from ego, understand and consider perspectives other than their own, and stretch their goals outside of their comfort zones.

“In this age, we need to be mobile and agile,” Finnell said. “At times, you’re going to be called to go do something that’s completely out of your comfort zone. Knowledge is power, and if you have the opportunity to get more knowledge and work experiences, take it.”

Dalisia Coppersmith, ceremony emcee and head of organizational development, challenged the graduates to, “Go back out there and, if there are things that you know aren’t working well or that you wish were different within your teams, divisions or programs, start to change them. Don’t wait for permission. Whatever you see that needs to be changed, start talking about it, be fearless about it and have a good attitude.”

The fall 2018 PaaL step 2 graduates from China Lake and Point Mugu were Kristin Ash, Sharon Batelaan, Keith Bennett, Elissa Carey, John Carter, Cathy Chieze, Henry Frohlich, Jennifer Gray, Matthew Keehan, Michelle Osborne, Allen Robins, Matthew Schmeiser, Reina Ann Seraaj, Alexandra Shearer, Hopi Sievert, Ilhan Turkyilmaz, Chad Waltz, Phillip Wilson and Julie Wright.

“Thank you for putting your time into this,” said Harlan Kooima, director of Software and Mission Systems Integration, at the ceremony’s close. “It’s not insignificant and it takes time and energy. I recognize that and I appreciate it.”

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