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Airmen "Own It" at City Hall

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482nd Fighter Wing members attend the Professional Development Program in Homestead, Fla., on Dec 1. (Photo Courtesy of Josh Padgett)

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City of Homestead, Fla., Mayor Jeff Porter addresses 482nd Fighter Wing members at the Professional Development Program held at City Hall on Dec 1. (Photo Courtesy of Josh Padgett)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. --

Thirty-five 482nd Fighter Wing leaders attended a professional development program at Homestead’s City Hall Dec. 1 as part of the Own It initiative to empower officers and senior noncommissioned officers within their squadrons.

Airmen from 11 squadrons attended this program coordinated by Lt. Col. Matthew Heintzelman, 482nd Mission Support Group deputy commander and wing project officer for the Own It initiative. The event included a tour of the new City Hall structure and a welcome by Mayor Jeff Porter.

“Move fast, but keep those connections with employees and the community,” said Porter, discussing the success in building a new City Hall where other administrations had failed. “If you acknowledge good work, spotlight those who are innovative, and reward those who do their jobs well—you can’t lose! Every position is a spoke in the wheel. We respect every job of city employees. From mine to the sanitation worker and bus drivers. If everyone is doing their job, then every job gets done!”

Porter concluded by lauding the role Homestead Air Reserve Base plays in the community. “Losing the base during [Hurricane] Andrew was devastating to Homestead,” said Porter. “Having you, the men and women of the 482nd, back has been an integral part of the growth of our city - you are loved and needed not only by City Hall but by every member of the community.”

After the mayor spoke, the 482nd FW Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Frederick Becking, and Lt. Col. Heintzelman presented Porter with a plaque commemorating the partnership between the base and the city. The plaque included a piece of one of the hangars damaged by Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago in 1992.

Attendees then listened to a seminar by Homestead City Manager George Gretsas. In this role, Gretsas manages over 500 employees for a city of 70,000 residents.

Gretsas’ seminar covered leadership, competencies, goal-setting, and vision. He kept the rapt attention of the Airmen with examples of government leadership which many could implement back at their squadrons.

“It was like a college-level class on how to lead,” said Tech. Sgt. Karen Alvarez, an Electronic Integrated Systems Mechanic with the 482nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “I especially liked his recap of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Leaders. That is something we can always review.”

Gretsas covered the significance of having the right person in the right job and the importance of Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership II Model which guides directive and supportive behavior with developing and developed employees.

“You are leaders,” said Gretsas. “To bring out the best in your Airmen, you need to know their competencies and their strengths. Target those and utilize your knowledge of your Airmen to focus on the mission.”

Gretsas reminded those in attendance that “leadership equals influence.” And that this influence can be seen in field grade officers or junior enlisted. Leaders need to know their Airmen to cultivate their leadership qualities to influence and succeed in the wing mission.

Lt. Col. Norberta Patterson, 482nd FW Management and Program Analyst, correlated the structure of City Hall to that of the wing.

“Watching Mayor Porter talk about policy, followed by City Manager Gretsas talk about implementation of the vision is exactly what it’s all about,” said Patterson. “We see policy enacted by wing leadership, but it is the Airmen who ‘Own’ and implement their programs where we see the vision come to life.”

Patterson noted that, “This up close and personal view of how they run things here is the living embodiment of the Own It Program—it’s exciting to see senior NCOs attend a program of this caliber and know they will bring back invaluable insight to become better leaders for the wing.”

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