NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 9, 2015) – A dozen personnel with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District graduated today from the second level of the Leadership Development Program during a ceremony at the Scarritt Bennett Center.
Lt. Col. Stephen Murphy, Nashville District commander, congratulated the graduates and charged that they are the future leaders, the future of the district, and the future of the Corps of Engineers.
“I challenge you to continue to grow, to continue to learn,” Murphy said. “You have had a year’s worth of training… mentor the other younger folks that are in your sections and areas that haven’t had the opportunity to do this training, that aren’t ready to do this training. But pass on the lessons.”
Murphy told the graduates that one of his legacies as commander is working with senior leaders to select the future leaders in the district.
“And the future looks bright,” Murphy said. “Your leadership is about service, and it is not about yourself… you can make a difference.”
The leadership students spent the last year participating in group activities and visited Corps of Engineers projects. They also toured corporations such as the Nissan Manufacturing Plant, Barrett Firearms, and Nashville International Airport to learn about processes and leadership concepts.
In addition, each student had to read a book as assigned on various leadership topics, participate in team building exercises, and had to make presentations about themselves, their jobs and the organization.
Dr. Michael Evans of Evans and Associates instructed the class and said the program served to refine the students, because they were already leaders.
“It’s not about changing who we are,” Evans said. “But it’s about refining ourselves to become better at becoming selfless leaders and steward leaders for the people around us in our homes, our community, and for our organization we work in.”
Evans added that this group of students definitely challenged themselves and gained new perspectives on influencing others as they went through the program.
“I challenged the participants… whether at home, whether it’s in the community, or within the organization, for them to continue to push themselves to be the greatest of leaders that they can possibly be,” Evans stressed.
Program Administrator Scott Sparks said the class visited Old Hickory Dam and the Center Hill Dam Hydropower Rehabilitation Project and took part in various sessions at other project sites throughout the Nashville District.
“As you can see this was super busy and they are deserving of the graduation,” Sparks said.
During the graduation ceremony, each student spoke one by one about what he or she took away from the year of instruction and the many program activities.
“Through this amazing opportunity the confidence to take on more responsibility, to take on new challenges, has been instilled in me,” said Christopher Stoltz, a supervisory environmental engineer with the Engineering Construction Division’s Engineering and Environmental Services Branch. “This class has taught me to continually challenge my comfort zone. As a leader, doing what is right is far more important than doing what is easy.”
Dustin Russell, an electrical engineer with the Operations Division Hydropower Branch’s Electronics Services, said he was skeptical about the class and looked at it as a check in a box, but now feels the instruction had great value.
“I tend to take on a lot of responsibility or tasks without seeking help from the ones around me that I could really benefit from,” Russell said. “So I think for me personally I saw that I could grow, looking at others around me, and learning that we can be a team to achieve these goals. I think that’s something that we’ve done as a class.”
Mary Keith, realty specialist in the Nashville District Real Estate Division, said she thought this program was going to be about developing herself, but it really was more than that.
“We talked more about a lot of different things that really aligned with my values and helping build others up,” Keith said. “So we talked a lot about team development within your organization… and I definitely want to take that back as far as helping develop my team members along the way.”
Keith said she also appreciated hearing presentations from the district’s senior leaders and interacting with them through the program.
“I just want to stay true to myself, which is hardworking and kind and to do the right things for the right reasons,” Keith said. “So that’s what I’m going to try to do and hopefully what we’ve learned in this class will help me develop in that way.”
Students are eligible for continuing education units and professional development units for completing the program.
Other graduates were Frank Mills, civil engineer; Heath Dunigan, power plant shift operator; Jody Craig, power plant superintendent; Lori Neubert, secretary; Myles Barton, realty specialist; Nick Norals, realty specialist; Trey Church, biologist and park ranger; Tim Tuttle, attorney; and Steven Stello, civil engineer.
(For news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District go to the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)