PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE --
The 161st Air Refueling Wing commemorated the official opening of the base's new Center for Enlisted Leadership and Learning with a ribbon cutting ceremony here May 2.
The CELL is so named as it is intended to be a cell, or offshoot, of the U.S. Air Force Profession of Arms Center of Excellence. It will offer all wing enlisted Airmen the opportunity to participate in professional development and leadership training; aligning the unit with the strategic roadmap set forth by the Secretary of the Air Force.
"The CELL will allow the 161st to be intentional about the professional development of our Airmen," said Chief Master Sgt. Bert Reid, 161st Logistics and Readiness Squadron chief enlisted manager, and creator of the CELL.
Reid said he was inspired to develop the center when he was acting as an inspector general during a sister unit's inspection.
"I was told, as part of the inspection, to ask the top three leaders in the squadron if they had a mentoring program," said Reid. "I thought, 'What if they ask me if we have one?' - we don't. So, I decided to create one."
Reid said that although Airmen receive some mentorship through the normal progression of their careers, such as learning how to write evaluations, there wasn't anything definable that could be measured.
"I thought about putting something together that was a little more structured, but how do you do that when there are so many other things that are required of Airmen throughout the weekend?" said Reid. "So, it was decided that four 30-minute sessions during drill weekend - two Saturday and two Sunday - would allow supervisors and commanders flexibility to send their Airmen to whatever fits their schedule."
Chief Master Sgt. Martha Garcia, wing command chief, said the Chiefs' Council discussed providing a professional enhancement course once or twice a year to the wing, but that Reid took the idea to a new level.
"I think it's a great concept," said Garcia. "This will help Airmen succeed and be ready for that next level. They will be prepared the next time they have a leadership opportunity or promotion. Our Airmen want mentorship and it is up to us, as senior leaders, to provide them with the tools to succeed."
She said Airmen will not only be able to develop and learn new leadership skills by attending CELL courses, but will also learn different leadership perspectives and styles, as the classes will be taught by different people from all over the base.
"Airmen will learn the skills that current leadership have that got them into those positions, whether it's technical skills, leadership skills or managerial skills," said Garcia. "There's going to be collaboration between groups and that will help build the strength of our team, because the strength of our team is our people."
Garcia said team strength is how the wing, as a whole, will benefit from CELL.
"These Airmen will be the wing's future leaders and will be better prepared to take on those managerial, supervisor and leadership roles with this exposure," said Garcia. "Every Airman's goal should be to reach the Chief level. Not everyone will reach it, but that should be their goal."
Reid agreed, "It is important for Airmen to take control of their careers and CELL will give them the skill set to succeed and progress. Everyone has that leadership spirit inside them, they just need someone to unlock it."
Sessions will be held Saturdays at 0900 to 0930 and 0945 to 1015 and Sundays at 1030 to 1100 and 1115 to 1145 in LRS, building 21. Please visit www.161arw.ang.af.mil
for the current CELL schedule.