U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Garth Massey, a La Cañada Flintridge resident, will help veterans navigate the civilian and corporate worlds with the new six-month community leadership course held by Leadership Pasadena, only the second program of its kind in the country.
The nonprofit focuses on community leadership, and is launching the veteran’s course to help military veterans (including National Guard and all Reserves) who have achieved a rank of E4 or higher and now are living, working or studying in the San Gabriel Valley as they transition into their new civilian lives.
Massey has seen many programs that focus only on veteran crisis management. “I think we do spend a lot of time on the veterans being disenfranchised, with PTSD, but that’s not been my experience,” said Massey, who also runs his own consulting company called MLMethods.
“What I’m trying to do is bring a perspective of a broader world by exposing veterans to different ideas and helping them create different tracks to find their own combination to achieve bigger goals,” he added. “If you peaked when you hung up your uniform, you have really missed the point of service. It’s what you learn in the military, how to apply your skills and what else you can learn going forward to build on that. I’d love to do the ‘what’s next’ curriculum.”
The course will cover such topics as “Personal Leadership in the Civilian World,” “Science and Tech in the Region,” “Corporate Landscape,” “Networks and Power of Conversation,” “Business Culture and Organizational Savvy,” among others. Optional workshops on financial literacy and communications also will be offered.
“We realized there is a large untapped population of potentially exceptional leaders in our recently returned veterans,” said Leadership Pasadena volunteer Executive Director Cindy Bengtson, a La Cañada Flintridge resident. “Vets need to know they’re just as important here as they are on the battlefield; they have to have a purpose for getting up in the morning.
“So this really serves a dual purpose. If you’re looking to make outstanding community leaders, why not train leaders we already have?”
Through the course, veterans will learn to “re-mission” their leadership talent to thrive in the civilian world. Whether they want to secure a corporate job, start or join a nonprofit, go back to school or start their own business, the course will explore the civilian leadership culture and build connections with community and business leaders. Leadership Pasadena aims to provide veterans with greater access to all aspects of the community and help them repurpose their military experience to become leaders who make an impact in the civilian world.
Army Capt. Dennis Lowe, a Flintridge Prep alumnus who recently returned to Pasadena after graduating from West Point, completed two operations in Kuwait and was stationed in Eastern Europe. He currently is enrolled in the MBA program at USC, and has given a lot of thought to the Leadership Pasadena course.
Part of the transition that proves difficult for soldiers coming home, he noted, is the loss of camaraderie and purpose. There is also an etiquette skill set and language that needs to be relearned.
“The clarity of purpose is a little more elusive in the civilian sector than it is in the military — it’s much easier there to tie what you’re doing to a bigger purpose,” said Lowe, who “counts himself lucky” to have had the support of one of his high school best friends at West Point, and also upon returning home together.
Lowe, who plans on going into real estate development, said the Leadership Pasadena program can help veterans translate their active duty experiences into common English for corporate America. It’s one of the more common difficulties for former soldiers, he said. When Lowe was stationed abroad, one of his duties was to plan out and set up base camps from nothing, coordinating infrastructure.
“I didn’t think about making the connection at first, but really what I was doing was building development and real estate site planning,” he said. “Leadership Pasadena will bring in a lot of different industry professionals and help people learn that for themselves and help veterans communicate their skill set in a way people will value and understand.”
Kim Miller-Anderson, a former Army E4, will also be on board to help teach the course. As co-founder and president of MSK Consulting Services, she helps bring leadership to the financial services industry. Miller-Anderson is looking forward to honing younger veterans into new community leaders.
“There are so many veterans out there who have so much to offer. I want to bring that to the forefront and create a different narrative,” she said. “[The course] really resonates with me because it’s taking a different perspective on veterans…. We need to start looking at veterans not as charity cases but trained leaders with aptitudes and skills that will make a difference in corporate America.”
Leadership Pasadena’s Veteran Leadership course applications are now available online. The six-week course, starting May 3, is offered to veterans for $300, with some scholarships available. The program will help place veterans on boards or appropriate volunteer positions at diverse nonprofits.
Veterans or companies interested in sponsoring a session, provide a scholarship for a veteran or enroll one of their own employees, should contact Cindy Bengston at email@example.com. Applications will be accepted until April 15. For more information, visit leadershippasadena.org.