A Garrison Mentorship Program was developed to help “build the bench” and allow Garrison employees to improve their leadership skills, gain a clear picture on how the WSMR Garrison is run and how decisions are made, all while working one on one with a high-level mentor. The WSMR Garrison Mentorship Program was launched this past Summer and is preparing for its second session in January.
The program is run by Bobbi Stark and Leidia Duran, program managers from the Directorate of Human Resources. The mentorship is a five-month program where a mentee is paired up with a mentor who will help the mentee reach their goals.
“We wanted to advance leadership initiatives for the Garrison on post and have it be something manageable,” Stark said. “A lot of the mentees gained a better understanding of how to enhance their career paths and learned what is done at WSMR.”
The mentee and the mentor develop their own plan of action in order to meet the mentee’s goals. At the end of the five-month mentorship, the desired outcome for the mentee would be a greater understanding of what their leadership strengths are, how they want their career path to progress, and what they need to do to reach the goals they set for themselves. The mentee is asked to develop a final project that can encompass everything he or she has learned throughout the mentorship program. The final project can be anything from a research paper to a PowerPoint presentation, whatever the pair decides is most effective.
“Many of the mentees were open to understanding that there are a lot of opportunities available to them, things they didn’t even know existed,” Stark said. “The program helped give them more confidence and they’ve found ways to access those opportunities.”
The pilot for the mentorship program began in July and will end at the end of this year. Five mentees and five mentors volunteered for the program.
“Some of the mentees and mentors will have an ongoing formal relationship long after their participation in the program,” Stark said.
What sets this program apart from other leadership programs is that the mentees and the mentors develop their own schedules and goals together.
“Ours was a formal program but it wasn’t a hard structured program. The teams weren’t held to strict requirements,” Stark said.”They really liked the flexible structure in this program. They could personalize the program to what they needed to accomplish.”
However, participants were asked to dedicate one full day to the program for a day-long tour of the range. The mentees were also asked to help make the decision on who would be the top three White Sands Garrison Heroes of the Year.
“A lot of them were surprised that there was a world outside of their own space. They gained a better understanding on how the range fits into the overall mission,” Duran said.
WSMR General Equipment Mechanic and mentorship program mentee Curtis Page said he enjoyed the opportunity to help make the hero decision because it gave him a look at how decisions are made in upper management.
“The better I understand upper management, the better I can understand why certain decisions are made that affect my job,” Page said. “(This program) introduced people to different environments than what they’re used to working in.”
Page said he joined the program because he wanted to learn about tenant organizations and how it all comes together to make the mission happen. Page was paired with Jose Gallegos, Supervisory Environmental Engineer, and Chief of the Environmental Division in the Department of Public Works. Page said the pairing was a perfect match since everything White Sands does impacts the environment in some way.
Page had participated in other leadership programs like Reaching New Heights and he said he truly enjoyed this mentorship program because he was able to work at his own pace. Page sees these programs as an opportunity to gain more knowledge and make himself more marketable.
“I’ve always been interested in learning something new. I want to make myself a better employee and a better person all around. I’m not a big reader, my knowledge comes from doing and seeing,” Page said.
As a senior level champion, Michelson, and Garrison Command Sergeant Major Jesus Degracia are very involved in the program. They attends the key meetings and invited mentees out to lunch to determine how well the program was working for them.
“He was visibly committed to the program,” Duran said. “It’s not just a Garrison Commander’s program, but a program for the benefit of the employee who chooses to participate. Col. Michelson actually believes in it enough to be actively involved.”
Stark said they decided on a five-month program because it would allow them to run two cycles a year. The mentee program is open to GS 7-12 or WG 7-11 who have served in Federal service for at least two years. The individual must also have had a successful evaluation and show progression toward grade-appropriate completion of CES courses.
“(We’re looking for individuals) who want to continue on self improvement,” Stark said.
“They have to be interested in bettering themselves and enhancing their own experience. They should want to learn and be willing to give to this relationship as well as take something from it” Duran added.
The new program will begin in February and applications will be accepted in January. Garrison employees may request an application by email to Leidia Duran at firstname.lastname@example.org.