EPP 2011 Graduation
The Executive Potential Program class of 2011 was the longest-running class in EPP history! Participants were scheduled to graduate in March of this year, but because of the looming government shutdown the ceremony was pushed back to June. Rick Henry, EPP Program Manager, told the graduating class: “Each class is kind of like your child. So I was thinking. What child is this? This is the child who graduated from college but moved back home. At that time the parents say, ‘I love you. I’m so glad to have had this extra time with you, but you’ve got to go!’”
This lighthearted comment set the tone for the morning’s festivities, as participants reflected on the last year they had spent in the program and also with each other. Rick began by recognizing all who contribute to the program. “To all families: thank you for allowing your loved one to spend time away involved in EPP. To all children: you are our future EPP graduates. To all mentors: due to your unbelievable guidance, you really made the experience for our participants. To all program coordinators: your presence is invaluable, as you are the driving force for bringing participants to the program. To all supervisors: thank you for making the sacrifice to allow your talented staff to do a developmental assignment away from your agency. We appreciate how you believe in them.”
Following Rick’s opening comments, Dr. Jerry Ice, President and CEO of Graduate School USA, said a few words. ”In this program,” he told the graduates, “the most important thing you learn is something about yourself.” In speaking about leadership, he emphasized that leaders need to “execute and get results, build relationships, solve problems, change, and improve.”
Members of the class who were chosen to say a few words made the audience laugh and cry. They all were in agreement that this program was like no other training they had ever had.
Debora Nagy, U.S. Department of State, shared her job-shadowing experience with the Undersecretary at the State Department and her developmental assignment at NATO headquarters in Brussels. She enjoyed watching and learning from her host supervisors’ management styles. Throughout her experience, she learned to “listen harder” and be more in the moment, rather than thinking about the 50 other things that one has to do. However, Debora’s most profound learning experience was with her team, whose professionalism and collective sense of humor made all the difference.
Chris Slater, Department of Transportation, told the audience that EPP got him constantly looking at goals and self improvement because complacency is not an option. He encouraged graduates to share their goals with their peers, not just with their bosses, as your peers can be one of your greatest networking assets. Chris suggested that the best bosses train their staff to be leaders, and then watch them slingshot past them in that role, as a result.
Kelly Kurisko, Department of the Navy, said that upon being given the opportunity to speak at graduation in front of her peers, she immediately wanted to decline. Kelly was described as one who leads with “quiet grace” and this was not the role she was eager to grasp. However, she soon realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and spoke confidently while giving advice to her colleagues. “Pursue continual learning and then pay it forward and invest in others,” she told them. “Build your networks. Collaborate with your peers. And most important: leave a legacy.”
Deidra McGee, United States Foreign Service, believes that she has become stronger, wiser, and more competent as a result of participating in EPP. She is convinced that leadership is a lifelong journey and concluded by looking directly at her fellow graduates and saying, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”
Throughout this EPP experience, the exchange of knowledge was apparent to everyone. Discoveries occurred. Personalities blossomed. Memories were made. And friendships are being sustained.
Well done, EPP class of 2011.