The Aberdeen Proving Ground Senior Leadership Cohort (APG Cohort) is an 11-month program intended for employees at the GS-15 grade level and higher. The purpose of this program is to prepare future APG leaders to create a self-sustaining leadership community at APG. These relationships are built at the different training sessions where Cohort participants work on various activities together, developing an active line of communication which can institute change and growth on several levels at APG.
"It’s the gift that keeps on giving as far as knowledge goes," said Associate Director of Engineering Bill Klein. "There are some outstanding sessions offered this year, that weren’t an option when I did the Cohort."
Klein was a participant in the 2009 Leadership Cohort and continues to be active.
In its third year, APG Cohort’s mission is to provide: 1.) the opportunity to practice leadership in a "live environment," which can readily help when these skills are needed on the job; 2.) the opportunity to create connections with people from different organizations, which can improve communication across the Garrison; 3.) the chance to work in Community Based Projects (CBP) that can benefit all members of the APG; and 4.) promotes social responsibility and starts project run work for APG organizations.
The APG Cohort draws leaders together from several organizations such as ECBC, Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), Army Research Lab (ARL) among others to attend seminars and network with leaders of other organizations. Participants also participate in a CBP, applying learned leadership skills to local causes such as volunteering in schools and creating social networks for Cohort participants.
The program is split into eight sessions and 19 class days, community-based projects and coaching sessions over the 11-month period. The sessions are run by various professionals who are experts in the field of the given topic, and the program sponsor is Mr. Gary Martin, SES, Executive Director to the Commander APG. The group of roughly 30 leaders meets monthly for a two-and-a-half day session where they meet with different members of the Cohort to do a myriad of activities from hands-on projects such as physically building bridges to performing self-assessments.
Eugene Vickers, current APG Cohort participant and Division Chief of Engineering Test Division, said the program’s reading materials and training aid him in how to better lead his division, and how to be more diligent worker.
"In today’s business, both government and private industry networking is a must if you want to get the job done," said Vickers. "I like the Cohort 3 program, because it gives me the opportunity to work with other GS14’s & GS-15’s and talk about the problems, issues and great things they have done."
The eight group sessions cover topics from "Teams and Organizations" to "Leading with Integrity." The Cohort also retains past Cohort participants through an alumni group that allows past participants to attend the current sessions and share experiences with the current participants. Each year, the program evolves offering different opportunities than the years past. The alumni program gives past participants the chance to continue to learn from the new changes in the program.
Debra Thedford, an APG Cohort Alum and Associate Director of the Department of Program Integration, noted that the program has helped her apply her skills to causes that are important to her. "We’re all busy, but carving out the time for the Cohort has value, because it provides the opportunity to work with people I would’ve met otherwise. If I ever need to contact someone from a different organization, I can always pick up the phone and call someone who I’ve met at the Cohort who can point me in the right direction," Thedford said.