White House Announces 15 New Leadership Development Fellows From Top Career Ranks

Defense, GSA, and NASA each earned two slots among second class of emerging leaders.

The Obama administration on Friday announced the second class of White House Leadership Development fellows, who will spend the next year working on management priorities and goals across government.

Fifteen employees at the General Schedule-15 level from 12 different federal agencies across the country will work on a range of cross-agency priority goals and administration initiatives. The program gives emerging agency leaders poised for the Senior Executive Service an opportunity to spend a year working outside “their current lanes to develop an enterprise viewpoint of government” and expects that they will show “a willingness to take on a variety of roles and work to further the mission of the cross-agency initiatives that serve as rotation assignments,” said the description of the leadership development program on the White House website.

The new crop of fellows has vast experience in public management, including overseeing multi-million dollar budgets; implementing succession planning and employee engagement initiatives; leading intelligence and research units; and fostering trade deals.

“The second cohort begins their fellowships as the inaugural class of WHLF fellows completes a very successful year,” said an Oct. 28 White House blog post announcing the news from Beth Cobert, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, and Andrew Mayock, a senior adviser at the Office of Management and Budget.

“From strengthening the SES and driving enterprise-wide excellence in federal hiring processes to promoting STEM education to improving customer service, these graduating fellows have helped further governmentwide efforts to drive innovation across government and better harness taxpayer resources to spur economic growth for the American people.”

Cobert and Mayock said they were “confident that the second cohort of WHLD fellows will build on this work and realize even greater gains.” All the participants have to have annual ratings of at least “exceed expectations” and demonstrated ability to “take on increasing responsibilities and leadership roles,” according to the program criteria. Fellows must have also shown skills such as working collaboratively, communication, adaptability, strategic planning, political awareness, and the ability to identify and overcome challenges.

President Obama created the White House Leadership Development Program in 2014, announcing it during a rare live speech to senior executives in which he outlined his initiative to modernize the SES to improve government. The first group of fellows started in November 2015.

Agencies this past summer were able to nominate between two and four employees for the fellowship, which also includes weekly leadership development sessions. The fellows were notified over the summer, and started the program this month.

The 15 fellows are:

  • Bernadette Adams, Education Department
  • Mark Ackiewicz, Energy
  • Kelly Alexander, Defense (Army)
  • David Armitage, State
  • Kathy Carson, General Services Administration
  • Carolyn Fleming-Williams, Federal Communications Commission
  • Robert Green, GSA
  • Noreen Hecmanczuk, Labor
  • Emily Kilcrease, Commerce
  • Kevin McGhaw, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Mimi Reilly, Veterans Affairs
  • John Rigg, Health and Human Services
  • Vicki Simons, Environmental Protection Agency
  • Eileen Vidrine, Defense
  • Ken Wright, NASA
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