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Airmen and civilians impact on Air Force recognized with unique opportunity

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Thirty-five Airmen and civilians from across the Air Force were recognized as the inaugural PACE Professionalism Impact Award recipients, June 6-9, during the Next Jump Leadership Academy.

Held in Boston and New York, the leadership academy experience was afforded to all of the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence Impact Award winners.

PACE director, Col. Joseph Rizzuto, said the goal of the event was for the attendees to share their stories of success with other like-minded Air Force professionals and to also equip them with professionalism tools so they could expand their impact on the Air Force.

Next Jump is an eCommerce company that runs the pro bono professional development program which was built to share and teach programs aimed at improving workplace culture.

According to its website, the “Academy is for leaders who have demonstrated impact within their own organization’s culture and want to learn how to take that culture to the next level.”

During the immersive course, both leadership academy locations covered topics such as personal and professional development, mentorship and feedback.

“This was a unique and rare opportunity for our Airmen and civilians to have access to some of the industry’s top thought leaders,” said Col. Denise Cooper, incoming PACE director. “Our attendees had the opportunity to learn about coaching, feedback, how to build a strong sense of commitment and were able to witness progressive techniques on how to deliberately develop an organization’s culture.”

The 2016 Impact Award recipients have been long-standing practitioners of PACE material, since its inception in 2015, resulting to significant mission improvement.

Rizzuto is credited with developing the award and stated that these individuals’ organizations and the impact they have made have become benchmarks for other organizations to follow.

“These individuals were selected to attend the academy program based on their positive influence on their organizations,” he said.

Lt. Col. Kyle Goldstein, 39th Flying Training Squadron commander at Randolph AFB, described that gaining a civilian perspective on leadership and how to deliberately develop people was one of the most important aspects of attending the leadership academy.

“We realized after attending the event, we need to improve feedback in a desperate way,” he said. “We are missing a major piece of the puzzle by not doing feedback correctly. The changes we will make, thanks to Next Jump, will take our squadron to the next level.”

Goldstein was selected to attend this program based on the major cultural changes he’s made in his unit. The 39th FTS focuses on producing “true leaders, connected to spouses, engaged parents and civil servants.”

“The 39th embodies excellence, professionalism and leadership that makes everyone better,” Goldstein added. “They understand the ‘whole person concept’ and teach it every day when they brief and fly. They teach life lessons, not just flying lessons. Their goal is to build effective aviators, but the overarching them is to ‘build their soul’.”

Staff Sgt. Peter Ruiz, Jr., said he can apply the techniques and the mindset used at Next Jump into his daily interactions.

“It will help me challenge others to adopt a progressive developmental life so we keep moving forward to be better professionals and members of society," said the executive assistant to 80th Flying Training Wing command chief, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

Ruiz believes that leadership is a universal language and that every organization needs leaders. He pioneered “Brewing Leadership,” a group where informal discussions are held to learn from each other.
Ruiz walked away from the leadership program with newfound knowledge, but in particular described that one of the greatest lessons he learned was the “danger in comfort zones.”

“Comfort zones do not allow you to grow,” he added. “Next Jump’s approach to feedback and becoming transparent provides a great way to help others step out of their comfort zone and into a zone that is deliberate for development.”

Ruiz said he could go on “forever” about what he learned during the leadership academy, “I also learned you don’t have to take leaps in order to grow. The smallest movement forward is still movement forward.”

It’s these types of professionalism lessons the PACE Impact Award is intended to provide those who attended the leadership academy. The collective thought from participants is that what they learned from Next Jump’s program will have a great impact on the Air Force.

“Just in sharing my experience with my coworkers over the past few days, I have seen my team engage in deeper discussions about trust and feedback,” said Dr. Randy Coats, award recipient and Deputy Director of Staff at Air Education and Training Command headquarters.

PACE is the Air Force’s dedicated champion to strengthening Air Force professional culture. Initiatives include infusing professionalism into existing training venues such as First Term Airmen’s Courses and Squadron Officer Course; delivering the affective instructional seminar “Enhancing Human Capital;” and providing leadership tools to ensure Airmen receive a continuum of professionalism development training at the appropriate touch points throughout their careers.

PACE plans for the Professionalism Impact Awards to become an annual award recognizing those individuals who have established professionalism programs that are having a positive impact on their organizations. They plan to solicit for 2017 nominees in January 2018.

The 2016 PACE Professionalism Impact Award winners are:

Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard
Col. Monica Brouse
Col. Brenda Cartier
Col. Michael Grogan
Col. Roger Suro
Col. Kenneth Tatum
Lt. Col. Meghan Doherty
Lt. Col. Jason Earley
Lt. Col. Kyle Goldstein
Lt. Col. Jannell Macaulay
Lt. Col. John Odell
Lt. Col. Jian Pena
Lt. Col. Mark Schmidt
Lt. Col. Ryan Slaughter
Maj. David Clementi
Capt. Christopher Umphres
Capt. Esther Willett
Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Fisher
Chief Master Sgt. Alex Garrett
Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kwiatkowski
Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Thompson
Chief Master Sgt. Steven West
Senior Master Sgt. Keith Castille
Senior Master Sgt. Joel Decker
Senior Master Sgt. Tonja Joyce
Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Pigza
Master Sgt. Jorge Cortijo Patton
Master Sgt. Tim Herrman
Staff Sgt. Peter Ruiz
Dr. Randy Coats
Dr. Robert Hamm
Ms. Quency Henson
Ms. Risa Hillard
Mr. Barry Waite
Mr. Robert West
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