Tobyhanna Army Depot, PA –
New initiatives at Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) are focused on building greater equal employment opportunities (EEO) across the organization.
The depot’s expanded EEO program includes aggressive recruitment efforts, listening sessions, supervisory training, and cooperative partnerships. Each aspect directly aligns with the organization’s long-range strategic plan, Toby 2028, and the Army’s Project Inclusion, a broad effort to eliminate institutional barriers that hinder individual development and advancement for enlisted and civilian personnel.
Anne Gebhardt is the Lead Human Resource Specialist for Staffing Advisory Services in the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC), and a member of the Recruiting the Future Workforce line of effort (LOE) for the Toby 2028 initiative. She and her team are working to connect with local communities to spread the word about career opportunities with Team Tobyhanna.
“A lot of people travel to New York City, Allentown or Bethlehem to work. But if they knew about opportunities within their commuting area, they could stay local,” said Gebhardt. “That’s where our focus is now.”
While the installation is nestled in the Pocono Mountains of Monroe County, less than 15% of Tobyhanna’s workforce hails from the immediate area. The majority of employees commute to the depot from Lackawanna County and, statistically, the workforce demographics have mirrored that of the former coal towns of the valley region and Scranton area. Yet, as the culture of Northeastern Pennsylvania grows more dynamic, the Recruiting the Future Workforce LOE has a multi-faceted approach to reflect those demographic changes in TYAD’s employee base.
“We’re reaching out to non-profits, employment agencies and state representatives,” said Gebhardt. “Our goals are to increase partnerships with the local community, collaborate with schools – invite them here and let them see for themselves.”
Representatives from TYAD and CPAC have met with these community support groups to discuss potential career paths for the individuals they serve and offer perspective on the depot’s mission and impact on the region. Students from local high schools have also been welcomed for tours of the operations area to see first-hand the types of skill sets being used to provide world-class support of command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense.
In light of the visitor restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the LOE is now taking a virtual approach to conducting community outreach. CPAC representatives and depot subject matter experts are participating in virtual career fairs hosted by area career agencies and schools. Some of the events take place on the hosting organization’s web tools designed for that purpose, while others are planned to utilize the popular video conferencing application, Zoom.
“We would eventually like to do our own virtual career fair, so the plan is to participate in as many of these as we can and see what works and what doesn’t,” said Gebhardt. “This might be a better way for more people to get in contact with Tobyhanna.”
Feedback from current depot employees is being garnered though a series of listening sessions, led by Equal Employment Opportunity Manager John Sutkowsky. The structured sessions included questions designed to spark impactful conversations about current events as well as workplace culture. He says the experience has been extremely useful.
“Our employees have been vocal about the good – and bad – parts of our workplace culture,” he said. “These sessions have provided insight that can help Tobyhanna become a better organization for all.”
Sutkowsky’s team is also leading the effort to heighten EEO across the organization through training programs for supervisors.
“Based on feedback received in the most recent Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute DEOMI survey, the EEO office recently provided training on how attitudes and a person’s life experiences can affect one's understanding, actions, and decisions,” he said, adding that the end goal was for supervisors to be mindful of preconceptions when interacting with employees and making decisions. Attendees say the training was time well spent.
“The training was valuable because it encouraged me to think about the environment here differently. I believe it will help leaders make Tobyhanna a better, more inclusive workplace for our current – and future – employees,” said Russell Wright. Wright leads the C4ISR directorate’ ATCALS/Range Threat Systems Division.
Another EEO initiative is the depot’s longstanding partnership with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). NTID is one of nine colleges on the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) campus and is the world’s largest technological school designed to support deaf and hard of hearing students.
“We continue to work with NTID to ensure their curriculum is relevant to our mission, to provide internships to their students and to establish a pathway to employment for deaf employees,” Sutkowsky said. “EEO works closely with depot leadership to create organic opportunities for employees with all types of disabilities.”
Many employees hired through the NTID partnership work in the depot’s Systems Integration and Support Directorate. Division Chief Thomas Petroski says the deaf employees are an important part of his organization’s rich culture and skill base.
“Our NTID hires are incredibly resilient, in part because they’ve had to face adversity that the average person has not,” he said. “They set a great example for their peers across the depot.”
Depot personnel are pursuing additional strategic partnerships with educational institutions and community organizations as another venue for recruiting a diverse workforce, according to Heather Fiedler, the depot’s organizational development specialist.
“Although the pandemic has limited our ability to reach out, Tobyhanna has already developed meaningful relationships with new partners like Women’s Resources of Monroe County and Newark Technical High School. We’ve also taken steps to strengthen our relationship with partners like Northampton Community College. These partnerships are part of our larger Project Inclusion efforts,” she said.
Depot leadership says the new EEO initiatives complement existing EEO programs such as the Schedule A hiring authority, youth shadowing programs with Monroe Career and Technical Institute and internal special emphasis programs. Those interested in future career opportunities with Team Tobyhanna can apply through USAJobs at www.usajobs.gov.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.
Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.
About 4,000 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.