Civilian workers from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River and MCAS Cherry Point gathered for lunch and a recognition ceremony at the Paradise Point Officer’s Club, Nov. 14. The event was part of the Civilian Leadership Development Program (CLD) which helps civilians improve their leadership skills so they can be better prepared to support Marines.

"Our programs are geared towards advancing competencies," said Dr. Kimberly Holmes, training & development program manager with Workforce Learning. “This program is designed to teach stronger leadership skills to the civilians not just to make them more marketable, but to help them get a firmer understanding of themselves and how they can continue to grow at work and as an individual.”

Donald Johnson is a former student of the program. He came to the recognition ceremony to express how the biggest improvements he made affected his life.

"I saw myself change and grow,” said Johnson. "I recognized very quickly that my weakest leadership attribute was listening to others, and I had to dig deep to fix that. What I did not expect was for that one change to affect my whole life and the way I view things, but it did. When I became more aware of others and began looking out for the best interest of others, I changed as a person."

CLD is made up of multiple programs whose length can vary from two months to two years. They are completely voluntary - it’s up to individuals to seek out improvement or their leadership to recommend them for the program. Alura McElvain, one of the program graduates, spoke about her experience.

“This course empowers leaders to deal and cope appropriately,” said McElvain. “This is a course in leading not managing. It is about self-discovery.”

While participants don’t take these courses for recognition, the luncheon ensured they were all congratulated for their hard work and commitment.

"Honestly, I did not know this course existed until recently,” said Maj. Gen. Julian Alford, commanding general, Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “But from this day forward, I guarantee I will be an advocate for it. As Marines, every course we take, regardless of what it covers specifically, it also acts as a leadership course; because every class is also a leadership course. We are trying to ensure everyone has the best developed skills they can. The fact that the civilian workers have a similar opportunity is absolutely a cause I can get behind.”