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NEWS | July 17, 2023

Leadership Pocono develops future Tobyhanna leaders

By Mrs. Danielle E. Weinschenk

A community leadership program is credited with expanding the perspective of three members of the Tobyhanna Army Depot workforce.

Tyson Gerhart, Jennifer Sayre and Larissa Warholic recently graduated from Leadership Pocono, a program designed to provide leadership development, regional and nonprofit education, and professional networking for participants.

Leadership Pocono’s flagship program, which is associated with Northampton Community College’s Center for Business and Industry, spans 10 months, and is designed for people who are looking to enhance their leadership skills as well as learn more about the region and how it operates in terms of government, education, social services and culture among other topics.

The program’s syllabus includes a two-day leadership retreat, experiential learning opportunities with local non-profits and community service organizations, and general information about the diverse Pocono Mountain region. In addition to attending the ten monthly sessions, participants must complete a research project and facilitate a presentation to their class about the topic.

The Leadership Pocono experience is just one step in a long journey of growth for Tyson Gerhart from the Production Management Directorate. The production controller says he’s been working to hone his leadership skills for several years, and the program helped him address longstanding interpersonal challenges.

“One component of the program is a survey where your peers give you feedback on your performance as a colleague and leader. One person said that I work too hard to convince others that I am right. This feedback helped me develop better boundaries and has improved my working relationships.”

Sayre joined Leadership Pocono to expand her professional network and praised the experience overall.

“My biggest takeaway was that leadership is a deliberate practice, and to lead, you need to share in the vision of your organization. Since the program ended, I have been actively seeking ways to share in Tobyhanna’s overall vision,” adding that the experience also helped her better understand organizational norms.

“Having participants from different organizations allowed us to share concerns from our own workplaces and learn that many of our issues are common – it’s not just us.”  Sayre works as an Information Technology Cybersecurity Specialist in the Production Engineering Directorate.

Larissa Warholic is a Management Analyst in the depot’s Strategic Initiatives Office. She applied for Leadership Pocono after hearing rave reviews from depot alumni of the program and says the program was inspirational, noting one session stood out from the rest.

“My favorite session was the two-day leadership retreat, where we were asked to consider several questions about leadership. The one that hit home for me was, ‘Are you in your job for something to do or to do something?’”

The trio worked together on the required group project, which focused on the state of education in a post-pandemic world – specifically the challenge of educator burnout. After months of investigation and research, the team assembled a panel of experts to discuss the topic with the class – including Team Tobyhanna’s own Dr. Heather Fiedler and a representative from East Stroudsburg University. Gerhart says the effort was truly eye-opening.

“I learned that a primary driver of teacher burnout is the way the education system operates with a heavy focus on metrics related to standardized testing,” he said. “Surprisingly, many of the problems faced by educators are very similar in nature to issues we face here at Tobyhanna, which helped me gain insight on how I might aid in problem-solving in my professional life,” adding that the research project also paved the way for a deep sense of gratitude.

“When teachers are burned out, the only place for them to go is to another teaching job. Here at Tobyhanna, we have so many different jobs that if someone feels burned out, there is always another opportunity for them. We [Tobyhanna employees] are very lucky in that regard,” he opined.

Each attendee celebrated the program as a benefit to Northeastern Pennsylvania as well as Tobyhanna Army depot, urging others to participate in the future.

““I would absolutely recommend Leadership Pocono. While it is a long-term commitment, it is a beneficial one,” Sayre noted. Warholic agreed.

“I am so happy I took part in this program,” she said.

“This experience changed me in ways I could not imagine,” Gerhart said enthusiastically.

Facilitating employee participation in community leadership programs aligns with the Invest in Our People and Connecting with the Community focus areas of TOBY2035, Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic plan. The plan aims to posture the organization for future success and has additional lines of effort dedicated to C5ISR Readiness and Strategic Communication.

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 3,200 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, 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.