AUSA Hosts Inaugural Generation Next Forum

AUSA Hosts Inaugural Generation Next Forum

Generation Next Forum at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Alabama.
Photo by: AUSA/Jared Lieberher

More than 60 emerging leaders took part in the inaugural Generation Next Forum at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Alabama.

Hosted by AUSA’s Center for Leadership, the workshop opened with an interactive session with Sarah Draper, a former FBI supervisory special agent and owner of Leading Well Strategies, who encouraged the young leaders to think about the elements and life skills that contribute to effective leadership.

In addition to discussing characteristics such as resiliency and the importance of sleep, relationships, being in nature, mindfulness and exercise and nutrition, Draper urged them to share their own habits and experiences during a lively exchange.

Participating in the forum “was a good dive into yourself and discovering what your mantra should be as a leader,” said Walker Brown, a cadet at Auburn University, Alabama, who aims to be a signal officer when he is commissioned in December.

Brown said he learned that taking care of people and taking an interest in their lives is critical because those “are precious relationships that should be cherished. People will always remember how you made them feel.”

The March 26 forum was an extension of the Young Professionals program launched at AUSA’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in October by the association’s Center for Leadership.

In a closing keynote address, retired Brig. Gen. Jen Buckner told the young leaders that while she built a successful career in the Army, it wasn’t always easy and involved many moments of uncertainty.

“I like to say that rejection is my superpower, because it didn’t just turn out that way, there was a lot of hard work,” she said, explaining that her title and rank often lead people to believe she had cruised to success. “There’s a lot of failure in that, there’s a lot of ‘Oh, I’d better reset and try again.’ ”

Buckner, an AUSA leadership fellow, served as the Army’s director of cyber, where she led governance and oversight of cyber capabilities and championed emerging technologies to enable detection and disruption of significant cyber threats. 

She retired in 2019 and now leads Mastercard’s Technology Risk Management Global Governance and Operations team.

Kyle Green, who works for a software company in Atlanta, said it was “probably the best leadership event I’ve ever been to,” and because of what he learned, he’s now considering ways he can serve others.

“Both speakers were so inspirational,” said Green, who was able to attend Global Force at no charge by signing up for the program. “Leaders tend to puff themselves up, but they didn’t do that at all. I loved learning how leadership is not nine-to-five alone, it’s an entire holistic approach to life that enables you to be the best leader.”