WHYTANK professional development speaker series debuts at AFDW

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
With innovation and an ever-evolving learning culture at the heart of modern Air Force endeavors, Air Force District of Washington presented at the Gen. Jacob E. Smart Conference Center May 17 the first in a new series known as WHYTANK, featuring the Hon. Henry F. De Sio Jr., the proclaimed global ambassador for changemakers.

The series focuses on leadership, team-building, mentorship, and empowerment, designed for junior and mid-grade Airmen and civilians to redefine goals and create new inroads to organizational success.

A keynote speaker, campaign strategist, professional leadership coach, and organizational consultant, De Sio's initiative, "Everyone a Changemaker," yields insight intended to spark innovation culture within AFDW and Joint Base Andrews mission partners.

"WHYTANK focuses on Airmen, culture, and tomorrow, with candid, developmental, team-building events for our personnel," said Col. Ethan Griffin, special assistant to the commander, AFDW. "The program fulfills command priorities within our 'AFDW Strategic Plan 2018-2023' by encouraging the spirit of innovation while building a learning culture."

Griffin said his team, Capt. Charito Corvin, Tech. Sgt. Trevor Taylor-Tillet, and Staff Sgt. Fondon, adeptly embraced the series as an opportunity to foster changemaking among their mid-level management peers.

During his presentation, De Sio recounted his time as a presidential campaign strategist circa 2006-2008, particularly the grassroots circumstances and unconventional tactics that empowered others beneath his charge to lead.

“We did some really innovative things with a cell phone, internet connection, and a computer … we could turn a kitchen into a canvassing station,” De Sio said. “This was not anything that had been done before.”

The campaign and its small but efficient staff grew at breakneck speed, leaving little time to even be surprised, he explained.  

“We have computers coming out of boxes and we're still getting our servers up, we have checks coming in the mail, and we're scrambling to open our bank accounts to receive those checks,” De Sio noted. “When people in the lower and middle rungs of the organization were free to lead, I found there was a different way of doing things – the staffers worked informally across those old silo boundaries to solve problems.”

In an “everyone leads” environment, there's no room for smallness, De Sio asserted.

“If the old system is about one leader at a time, this new system requires everyone stepping into their bigness to play in their full leadership capacity.”

De Sio’s stories of trust, risk-taking, and success seemed to resonate years later with presentation attendees who took his words to heart.  

“This event encouraged me to empower my Airmen and trust them with making a difference in their realm of responsibility, and at the same time help develop that passion,” said 2nd Lt. Jason Ort, 844th Communications Group plans and programs officer in charge. “The best type of knowledge anyone can receive is unfiltered, passionate experience from someone who has been there, been through the difficulties and challenges, and emerged on the other side with wisdom gained.”

For dates, details and video clips of future WHYTANK speaker presentations, follow AFDW on Facebook.