Army AL&T brings virtual writer’s workshop to JPEO A&A

By December 7, 2021March 30th, 2022Army ALT Magazine, Commentary, General
Print Friendly, PDF & Email



by Cheryl Marino


Writing is something we learned early on and use daily—texts, email, presentations, documentation—a skill so routine no one really thinks much about it unless they have to or want to. After all, it’s not that difficult and everyone can write, right?

Depends on who you ask.

According to Joanna Chase, a human capital analyst supporting talent management and human resources at the Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition (JPEO A&A), plenty of individuals in her organization have expressed an interest in becoming published Army AL&T magazine authors, but few actually pursue the opportunity because of a fear that their writing skills aren’t adequate.

“My role is to listen to our leadership and the overall workforce to better understand what new initiatives I can develop or bring in to continue to support their growth and development,” she said. “My goal is to lead a culture change where we develop and support every individual within their career in order to help both the workforce and our organization be as successful as possible, today and going forward.”

With that in mind, Chase reached out to Ellen Summey, an editor at Army AL&T magazine, to discuss ways in which struggling writers in her organization could potentially enhance their writing skills. Summey, along with Senior Editor Steve Stark and the Army AL&T editorial staff, immediately accommodated Chase and her team with a redesigned virtual Writer’s Workshop, held on Dec. 7 via Microsoft Teams.

“We hear from people all the time who have great ideas about acquisition, technology or any number of important topics, but who aren’t sure how to effectively present those ideas for this Army AL&T audience,” Summey said. “This workshop helps them organize their thoughts, formulate their message and understand the magazine production timeline, so we can share those ideas with the world.”

Writing workshops are not a first for Army AL&T. In the past, these workshops were offered in person. But now with most people working remotely, the virtual roundtable event—led by Stark and four of the magazine’s editors—was conveniently available to participants from the comfort of their own homes.

Those who attended were of various vocations—logistics, engineering, program management—and with differing skill sets. Each had their own reasons for wanting to attend and develop their writing skills, whether they had some writing experience or none at all.

“Since there were such a limited number of seats available, we specifically advertised for folks who were currently working on or who were serious about drafting an [Army] AL&T article in the near future,” Chase said. She contacted each individual to gage their level of interest in a writer’s workshop. “We wanted to make sure those who could use the support now were the ones able to get it.”

And support they did get. Each participant wrote and submitted a short article beforehand, and Summey divvied up the articles and assigned each to another participant, as well as one of the Army AL&T editors for review. All articles were edited and critiqued by two professionals as well as a fellow workshop participant ahead of time, and everyone at the workshop got a chance to provide input and offer constructive suggestions on how to turn good articles into great ones.

Effective communication strategies, especially through the written word, are critical in delivering the message in the right way. James Sarruda, branch chief for Cannon-Delivered Area Effects Munitions at Project Manager for Precision Attack Cannon Munitions, signed up for the workshop to gain some insight into the writing process and learn more about some of the pitfalls that can be avoided.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak with magazine editors and get feedback on my writing from professionals,” he said. “I found it especially helpful when the editors helped me identify some specific writing habits that I could improve. I’m looking forward to staying in touch, and I hope to continue to develop my writing as I grow professionally.”

Chase agreed that workshops like this one are beneficial for personal and professional development when the focus is on creating a strong, leadership-oriented and agile workplace.

Catherine Scheper, a strategic improvement specialist matrixed to Project Manager Close Combat Systems from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, said she found the workshop to be beneficial for the strategic planning work that she does and beyond. In a post-workshop evaluation she wrote: “This instruction was very valuable and the material was easily retainable because of the structured exercise led by the instructors. I would very likely recommend this workshop to my coworkers who have a desire to publish written work to [Army] AL&T magazine.”

Response to the workshop was so favorable that subsequent have already been requested by other Army organizations.


"Army AL&T Magazine" , is a quarterly professional development publication. Army AL&T News manages the acquisition community’s online news service, publishing articles that inform AL&T Workforce members on career development and AL&T-related news.

Subscribe to Army AL&T – the premier source of Army acquisition news and information.
For question, concerns, or more information, contact us here.