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Army civilians: Vital part of AUSA’s mission and membership

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Army civilians have always been a vitally important constituency in the Association of the U.S. Army.

Just as the Army has begun to rely on increasing numbers of civilians, especially in leadership and management positions, so too has AUSA begun to give greater attention to civilian activities and membership.

AUSA’s Army Civilian Advisory Committee represents Army civilians to its Council of Trustees and takes an active role in membership activities.

The current chairman, retired Senior Executive Service (SES) John Nerger, has worked to ensure the committee is more representative of the civilian workforce.

“I’m pleased we now have members who represent or who have represented most of the Army commands with high numbers of civilians, for example, Army Materiel Command, Training and Doctrine Command, Medical Command, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Installation Management Command,” Nerger said.

Adding, “Many important career fields, such as human resources, acquisition, resource management, and engineering, are covered as well. This ensures the diversity of civilian interests is represented and all civilians have a voice inside AUSA.”

The committee has been working on several initiatives since the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington last October.

Although AUSA sponsors a popular civilian seminar each year during the meeting, the committee observed that many DACs are unable to attend due to travel budgets and restrictions.

As a result, AUSA President and CEO retired Gen. Carter F. Ham agreed to consider hosting similar events at AUSA’s events during the year throughout the country.

In March, AUSA featured a civilian-oriented leadership seminar for the first time at its Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala, and hopes to broaden its focus on civilian professional development sessions at similar events elsewhere in the future.

Another proposal is the creation of a local vice president for civilian affairs, modeling the best practices of some AUSA’s chapters.

AUSA senior fellow and retired senior executive Diane Devens has helped develop a set of duties to guide local chapters and regions on how to better engage with civilians in their chapter areas.

The intent is to have a main point of contact to advise chapter and region leaders on civilian recruitment and retention, outreach, issue advocacy, professional development and all civilian-oriented activities within AUSA’s sphere of influence.

The committee has recommended establishing a civilian position on the AUSA headquarters staff to be able to influence events and procedures on a routine basis.

Former Army executive Don Tison was appointed in early 2017 as a senior fellow in the AUSA Institute for Land Warfare with a dual focus on civilian matters.

Tison said, “Our Army civilians are a critical component to making the Army run. As such, they should also be a critical component of AUSA.”

Army civilians are represented on AUSA’s Council of Trustees by Philip Sakowitz, a former Army Civilian Advisory Committee chairman and retired Army and corporate executive, who brings a strong civilian viewpoint to the senior deliberations at AUSA.

“Given all the significant contributions and issues impacting Department of Army Civilians,” Sakowitz said, “it is a huge benefit to have AUSA as our voice. General Ham and his senior staff have made a serious commitment to Army civilians and in my position on the Council of Trustees I will continue the dialogue that will enhance that charge.”

An AUSA member for over 20 years, Nerger, as well as his committee colleagues, believe AUSA offers significant networking, professional development, news, and issue advocacy benefits of direct relevance to Army civilians as well as soldiers, who remain AUSA’s largest member base.

“AUSA’s voice is much stronger in Washington and on Capitol Hill when there are civilian members because the Army is the sum of all its parts,” Nerger noted.

Recently, AUSA announced a lower membership rate for junior civilian grades just as it does for junior enlisted soldiers, hoping that this creates “members for life.”

“General Ham sees AUSA continuing to broadening its outreach to Army Civilians,” Nerger said.

“AUSA is very proud of all DA Civilians and what they do and mean for America’s Army,” he said.

He added, “If you aren’t already a member of AUSA, please join us – we need you. If you are already a member, please invite a friend.”

Members of the AUSA Army Civilian Committee are: Jay Aronowitz, SES, Ret.; Kathryn Condon, SES, Ret.; James Dalton, SES, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Diane Devens, SES, Ret.; Mary “Cathy” Dickens, SES, Ret.; Alecia Grady, Installation Management Command; and John Hall, SES, Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Ellen Helmerson, SES, Army Training and Doctrine Command; Hon. Mary Sally Matiella, former assistant secretary of the Army, financial management and comptroller; John B. Nerger, SES, Ret., committee chairman; Diane Randon, acting assistant secretary of the Army, manpower and reserve affairs; Gregg Stevens, SES, Army Medical Command; and Philip E. Sakowitz, SES. Ret., are also committee members.