Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

October 19, 2017 at 12:36pm

Professional Development Seminar invests in airmen

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Rarely does the Rainier Wing offer an opportunity for citizen airmen to gather -- dressed in civilian business clothes -- and hear from professionals from major corporations such as Starbucks and Amazon.

For more than a decade, however, a committee formed of enlisted airmen met monthly to make this happen. What initially launched 15 years ago as a smaller event at McChord's enlisted club grew into the annual 446th Airlift Wing Professional Development Seminar with approximately 170 in attendance.

This year's PDS, themed "Make your Future Crystal Clear," took place at the American Lake Conference Center in September and covered topics like formal training and education, retirement planning, organizational trust, developing a Reserve Enlisted Development Plan and applying for the Enlisted Development Education Board, and other topics related to leadership and personal development.

"I believe this year's theme is part of what we have to do as the enlisted corps here," said Command Chief Master Sergeant Kenellias Smith, 446th AW command chief. "We have to make sure our steps are clear, we have to make sure that our development is purposeful, and we have to make sure that we equip our airmen the way we need to in order for them to be not only successful for the mission, but be successful in life."

For one first-time attendee, PDS afforded an opportunity for self-improvement.

"I'm always looking for opportunities to improve myself and make myself more effective for my organization -- whether it's my military or civilian job," said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Peterson, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron jet engine mechanic and Unit Fitness Program manager. "I think there's something for everybody here. It seemed at first like it might be more of a leadership and NCO opportunity, but I think anybody could benefit from it, no matter what their rank is."

With the PDS program spanning over 15 renditions, one Rainier Wing member was encouraged by a family member to attend.

"My stepdad was in the Air Force and had attended a previous PDS, and he highly encouraged it," said Staff Sgt. Lisa Neetz, 446 ASTS unit training manager. "So, I came and found out it was full of fabulous information and I've been back every year since I joined."

For wing leadership, PDS is a commitment and plays a part in overall readiness.  

"The wing is definitely committed to its airmen," said Smith. "The professional development seminar has grown and morphed over the years. I think with the attendance, this event continues to grow, and our airmen are continuing to see value in the seminar.

"Because our job is to train, equip and be ready for the mission. Whatever that mission is, be it life or be it what we do here at the 446th, we're going to be ready."

For the 2017 PDS, the planning committee ensured Rainier Wing members knew when event planning occurred.

"This is the first year that I've seen e-mails come out that says when the planning committee meets," said Neetz. "If an airman was interested, they should talk with their supervisor, and hopefully their supervisor will give them that time to attend the meetings."

The event was open to all 446th AW reservists, regardless of rank. The PDS planning committee meets every Sunday of the Primary UTA at 8:30 a.m. Anyone interested in chairing the committee for next year's PDS should contact Tech. Sgt. Corina Gonzalez-King at

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