ACROSS THE ARMY: Branches of the FMMP exist throughout the Army—another branch just launched in March 2023 at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, with Ms. Marion Whicker, Army Materiel Command executive deputy to the commanding general, and Col. Clydea Prichard-Brown, executive officer to the AMC deputy commanding general, in attendance. (Photo by Lillian Putnam, U.S. Army Materiel Command)
by LeAndrea White
The Army Acquisition Corps (AAC) Female Mentoring and Morale Program (FMMP) is gaining momentum empowering women in the Army. The AAC FMMP is a personal and professional development program for female Soldiers and civilians in the Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW) with a focus on addressing challenges and issues germane to all ranks of women in the areas of diversity, retention and leadership development. Though the AAC was officially disbanded in March 2022, it lives on in the name of the program.
Through an investment in networking sessions, workshops, panels and one-on-one mentoring, AAC FMMP is showing women, both civilian and military, that they matter. “As a leader and a woman serving in the Army, I recognize the importance of providing opportunities for professional development that specifically cater to the unique experiences faced by female Soldiers and civilians. That’s why I am a part of the executive board,” explained Col. Senodja Sundiata-Walker, chief of staff, Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office. “This group is essential in providing a safe and supportive space for women to come together, share their experiences and learn from one another. It’s a needed platform for discussing issues that impact us as women in the Army, building connections and accessing resources and tools that can help advance careers.”
In recognition of Women’s History Month, the AAC FMMP held a round table discussion featuring Karen Saunders, Program Executive Officer for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation and Command Sgt. Maj. Julie A. Saorrono, Army Contracting Command. The roundtable centered around how each found work-life balance, especially during key developmental assignments and deployments.
These types of discussions and activities have been well-received by participants. Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Rachel Harris at Army Materiel Command especially appreciated the opportunity to connect with other women to learn and actualize what is possible. “I found it refreshing for leaders to share their perspective of how to balance it all. During the discussions panelists are vulnerable and share their personal stories of triumph over challenges. Additionally, I enjoyed the atmosphere of leadership being real and raw when sharing advice on managing a successful career.”
Women haven’t been the only demographic that can benefit from AAC FMMP. Men have been welcomed to participate to help them better understand women’s struggles and become better allies. Subsequently, they have become increasingly involved and actively contribute during panel discussions. The men participating want to have an awareness of and better understand the value women bring and want to play a role in optimizing that value to build cohesive teams.
“Throughout my career, coaching and mentoring have been critical to future leader development and growth. That is why I am honored to co-lead the Army Acquisition Corps Female Mentoring and Morale Program,” expressed Maj. Gen. Robert Collins, deputy for Acquisition and Systems Management, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology). That type of support has been demonstrated since the AAC FMMP was established April 2022 with Maj. Gen. Collins, as a founding general officer advisor providing executive oversight. “This rich experience has reinforced my belief that programs like this foster a more inclusive culture, improve morale and increase a sense of unity and cohesion for all Soldiers and leaders among our teams. The Army Acquisition Corps Female Mentoring and Morale Program is yet another way we are preparing future senior leaders to face tough, complex challenges in any environment.”
Sundiata-Walker added, “Providing opportunities for women to excel and reach their full potential strengthens the Army’s capabilities, ensuring that we have the most skilled and capable force possible. I encourage all women, everyone in the acquisition workforce to take advantage of this opportunity and participate.”
The AAC FMMP meets virtually on a quarterly basis and focuses on various topics to help increase the strength and support for both female Soldiers and civilians. If you have interest in being involved or participating in the many voluntary AAC FMMP activities, contact Maj. Chalonda Estelle firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.