Even with so much going on in the present, TSA Oregon hasn’t forgotten to prepare for the future.
When Oregon Federal Security Director (FSD) Stephen Taber asked Assistant FSD-Mission Support Kathleen McDonald to create an all-inclusive professional development tool that would encompass more than 750 TSA employees along multiple career paths, she didn’t take it lightly. She recruited Executive Assistant Elizabeth Stamper and Program Analyst Francesca Becker. Together, the leaders collaborated and produced a versatile, mission-driven program.
“About two years ago I completed the TSA Executive Leadership Program,” said McDonald. “That was some of the best training I’d ever received from TSA. This course made me want to find a way to give back to employees at all levels of the organization.”
That’s how the Oregon Professional Workshops (OPW) were born.
The OPW consist of training courses and materials developed locally by TSA Oregon. The training focuses on skills and knowledge sets employees need to propel their careers down three distinct paths: Leadership, Administrative and Technical.
The first OPW classes took place over the course of an entire week in October 2019, with an emphasis on the leadership track. Just a month later, Oregon was able to host a second OPW focusing on administrative career skills.
After huge successes on the first two OPWs, the Mission Support team was excited to launch the third OPW focusing on technical skills. However, things began to get complicated. After a delay in December due to travel restrictions, and COVID-19 disrupting the travel industry shortly after the start of the new year, McDonald and her team had to get creative.
The Oregon Mission Support crew went back to the drawing board and created the Virtual Oregon Professional Workshop (VOPW) which integrated courses pulled from all three career paths in the original OPW. They also redesigned the workshop to be hosted one day per week, over a period of six weeks, allowing for an extra day of class while maintaining operational flexibility to meet the needs of the mission.
McDonald set three goals for VOPW students: enhance the skills that will help them promote, provide an introspective experience to help students learn about themselves, and give them tools and skills that will directly apply to their TSA careers. So far, students seem to be impressed.
“I am incredibly grateful for this class,” said Medford Airport officer Andrea Wood. “I have learned a great deal and continue to practice some of the things I have learned, including watching some of the videos over. I especially love the one about validation.”
Some of the courses taught include Federal Resume Writing, Interview Skills, the Meyers-Briggs personality test, the DISC communication model, Stakeholder Communication, and Technical Writing. So far, 56 TSA Oregon employees have completed the workshop, with more workshops planned for the future.
“I’m so proud to work with an FSD and a team of staff members who all support employee development,” said McDonald. “I definitely couldn’t have done this on my own and credit should be given to all of the Mission Support, Regulatory, Screening Leadership, Training and Coordination Center staff members who stepped up to volunteer their time, passion, and energy to be a part of this program.”