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HEADQUARTERS, NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — A command-wide graduation ceremony held here March 22 recognized 131 NAVAIR civilian and military participants of two leadership development programs.

NAVAIR’s Leadership Development Program (NLDP) and Journey Leadership Development Program (JLDP) are part of an ongoing command commitment to developing leaders at all levels. Both programs are intended to give employees the opportunity to broaden their leadership, management and organizational knowledge and worldview, while establishing networks with peers and senior leaders across the command, the Navy and the Department of Defense (DoD).

“If you’re not engaged — if you’re not leading change — then you’re a bystander. We don’t need bystanders; we need leaders,” NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags told the graduates. “We’re counting on you to bring the bystanders along with you to inspire them, challenge them, empower them, mentor them, lead them.”

Patuxent River, Md., graduates of the NAVAIR Leadership Development Program join together after a ceremony here March 22. The program is intended to give employees the opportunity to broaden their leadership, management and organizational knowledge and worldview, while establishing networks with peers and senior leaders. (U.S. Navy photo)

Steve Cricchi, assistant commander for corporate operations and total force, echoed the admiral’s comments about the importance of developing future leaders.

“You are joining an elite group of close to 500 NAVAIR military and civilian employees who have made their personal development a priority and are poised to help us lead into the future,” he said.

Both NLDP and JLDP include classroom-based leadership development courses, online training and other developmental activities, such as job shadowing, mentoring and professional reading assignments.

NLDP graduates praised the valuable network they formed while in the program.

“I appreciate the many leaders I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from in the last couple of years,” said Ryan Bowersock of Lakehurst, New Jersey. “My external rotation at Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division allowed for a fundamental career shift here at Lakehurst, and I’m grateful to be doing the cutting-edge work I do every day.”

Rebecca Smith, who initially planned to complete NLDP before the five-year deadline, found more benefits the longer she stayed in the program.

“By far, the networking was one of the best opportunities gained from this program,” Smith, based out of Patuxent River, said. “I have so many resources I can call to help solve problems without having to elevate them.”

JLDP graduates said they enjoyed learning new leadership skills and refining their personal leadership style.

Fred Smith, based out of China Lake, California, said the JLDP curriculum has broadened his knowledge and honed his ability to support the warfighter.

“As a lifelong learner, the JLDP experience has been invaluable for me personally and professionally. JLDP has bolstered the leadership traits and principles that form my leadership philosophy,” Smith said.

Dat Le of Lakehurst said he enjoyed learning about different leadership styles. “You learn about different leadership styles in the classroom, but through the interviews and shadowing assignments, you’ll be able to witness a variety of different leadership styles,” Le said.

“JLDP was an excellent opportunity for me to continue learning about leadership, mentoring, teamwork, NAVAIR overall, and even my own interests and career options. I often use the skills and knowledge I acquired during my time in JLDP and am thankful to have had the opportunity,” said Dave Hine of Patuxent River.

Graduates encouraged upcoming NAVAIR employees to apply.

“The primary reasons I would highly encourage others to embark upon the challenging JLDP path is that they will learn more about themselves, refine their soft skills and learn how to work more efficiently and comprehensibly in complex and diverse teams,” Smith said.

“I would highly recommend the JLDP to all because of its ability to not only provide outstanding leadership training, but also the real life experience you acquire through the shadowing and interviewing of senior leaders,” said Casey Jones of Jacksonville, Florida.

Read more about NAVAIR’s employee development opportunities.