collage of 2020 PaaL Step 1 graduates

NAWCWD leadership program adds 79 more graduates

Seventy-nine Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division employees graduated from the Professional at all Levels Step 1 leadership program during a ceremony Jan 14.

PaaL is a command-developed, three-step program that is open to employees at all levels of the organization. Each of the three steps includes professional development classes and a series of sessions with personal and group coaches. Since the first cohort in 2012, nearly 700 employees have participated in the program. The first step of the program focuses on leading self and others.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremony was held virtually. Many of the classes moved online as well, challenging students and instructors alike as well as compressing the timeline for completing the program and the required final projects.

“I’m more of a classroom learner, so there were definitely some challenges to overcome,” said Riley Campbell, a program analyst in Weapons and Energetics whose cohort was the first to move to online training.

Campbell, who joined the program to develop her own self-awareness as a way to better connect with her team, said that even with the challenges and the time commitment, she highly recommends PaaL.

“I was surprised at how eager I was to take these concepts back and apply them in the workforce,” she said, noting that the skills she learned have already influenced how she conducts team meetings and team building activities.

For Tim Buchanan, lead facilities operations specialist supporting Avionics, Sensors and E*Warfare, PaaL was a place to learn about the organization, network, and get honest feedback about his communication skills.

“I believe it’s human nature to resist change,” Buchanan said. “But PaaL is an opportunity to look at yourself and make incremental, small improvements. It helped me look at myself more objectively, and take the feedback and realize it’s all for the good.”

Dan Carreño, NAWCWD’s acting executive director, congratulated graduates on completing the program, noting that challenging yourself is the best way to grow. And the harder the challenge, the bigger the impact personally, professionally and for the warfighter.

He challenged graduates to set hard goals, find strong mentors who can help you get there, and then “Step up to the plate and swing.”

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it with amazing accuracy,” Carreño said. “And you’re not going to get better just by reading a book. The only way to get better is to keep putting yourself in hard situations.”

“We need leaders who are enthusiastic about serving hard problems. We never get to sit back and say we’re done. Keep charging ahead, keep challenging yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

PaaL Step 1 Class of 2020 graduates are:

Yawa E. Adonsou, Muhammad Anwar, Rinaldo Baietti, Ryan Baker, Lindsay Barker, Ralph D. Barker, Meghan Baronowski, Gina Benigno, Brienna Blades, Tara M. Brandt, Randell Brenner, Kristen M. Brown, Tim Buchanan, Taylor Buckley, Phillip Burum, Riley Campbell, Frederick Casem, Nicole Cepaitis, Nitit Chartuprayoon, Peter Cross, Edward Czajka, Alwyn Dela Cruz, Ray Delcher, Claresta Dennis, James DeYonker, Richard Donaldson, Jennifer Duchow, Jason Dutcher, Steven J. Dwyer, Jonathan Essel, Cathy M. Gonzalez, Ann Graybill, Amy Harley, Scott Hawkins, Kayla Hendon, Katherine Hileman, Pam Hom, Andrew Ihnen, Brandon Iwasaki, David R. Jones, Trevor D. Kinsfather, Madeline R. Kooima, Phillip Land, Elizabeth Leung, Ann M. Lopez, Elizabeth Marin, Jaimie Marroquin, Katlyn Mason, Jeff Montgomery, Robert Moody, Michael Moroz, Gabriela Nagy, Twila Neiyer, Gregory Ostrom, Katie Rael, Connie D. Roberts, Nick Roder, Jessica Rodriguez, Lorenzo  Rodriguez, Christopher Sanchez, Steven Schlaich, Ryan Schmidt, David Shine, Ross Shingledecker, Sarah Simon, Murali Sivaramakrish, Jason R. Smith, Surapong Somkaew, Roger W. Spears, Norelle I. Swanson, Kyla Vigneault, Thomas Vitale, Jessica A. Webb,  Donna Weinert, Lowell Wheeler II, Dawn E. Wheeler, Denise F. Wise, Courtney Yelton, and Chris J. Zavatson.



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