“A Unified Team”: The newest Army Acquisition Fellowship graduates

By Tara Clements


FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May 19, 2014) — Thirteen members of the 2011 Competitive Development Group/Army Acquisition Fellowship (CDG/AAF) were recognized at a graduation ceremony at Defense Acquisition University here hosted by the Army Director, Acquisition Career Management (DACM), Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson.

“What an amazing success,” said Williamson. “The reason you were identified [for this program] is your ability to learn and grow. Take the experience you’ve had here back with you and find opportunities for others to become the next set of leaders,” he added.


The CDG/AAF is a three-year developmental program designed to develop future Army acquisition leaders by offering selected applicants expanded training, leadership, experiential and other career development opportunities. Since its inception in 1997, the program has provided board-selected individuals with essential leadership training and developmental assignments to leverage opportunities for future selection into critical acquisition and key leadership positions.

The fellows graduating Monday began their journey together on March 11, 2011 and through the process, created a “cohesive bond” and “a unified team of 13”, according Renee Kelly, one of the graduates.

“Once we all settled in and met the rest of the year group, something magical happened and we all just clicked,” said Kelly during her address at the ceremony. Mentoring one another, editing reports and helping each other through administrative challenges were just a few of the areas the group relied on each other to achieve their mutual goal and graduate from the program.

But it wasn’t met without challenges. Sequestration and civilian furloughs impacted training events, rotations and mandatory Defense Acquisition University courses. “We had obstacles along the way, but we persevered – never giving up. Failure was not an option,” added Kelly.

Following 36 months of classes, institutional training and executive leadership training experiences, the fellows received their certificates of graduation ready to apply what they’ve learned at their respective agencies.

CDG Graduates

From the left: Tom Evans, chief, USAASC Workforce Management Division, Drexie Jennings, Army Contracting Command, Mission Installation Contracting Command; Giselle Whitfield, USAASC; Michael Holthe, Natick Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC); Monet Gray, Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI); Stephanie Gilkes, Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Services Support; Karen Burke, NSRDEC; Lt. Gen. Michael Williamson, principal military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) and Army DACM; Ruanda Cooper, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command – Life Cycle Management Command; Renee Kelly, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command; Chandra Evans-Mitchell, USAASC; Shelby Johnson, Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center; Rita Tejeda, PEO STRI; Jacques Eckles, PEO STRI; Stephen Eastham, Tank-automotive and Armaments Command – Life Cycle Management Command; Craig Spisak, director, USAASC.

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