Protocol officer, assistant club manager first civilians to attend Airman Leadership School at Vance

  • Published
  • By Joe B. Wiles
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The first two civilians to attend Vance’s Airman Leadership School have a lot in common.

Both are civil service GS-09s with three years total service, both are mothers of two and both plan on a career path that leads to greater things.

Ramy Stevens is the assistant manager at the Greven Crosswinds Club. Her mother, Robin, was one of the first two female mechanics on the Vance flight line in the 1970s.

Ashley Hendricks is the 71st Flying Training Wing Protocol officer. Her husband, Master Sgt. Jamie Hendricks, is the 71st Operations Group first sergeant.

Their ALS class began Monday, April 19, and will run through May 20.

“Learning how the military side of things work will be good because I don’t have any of that background,” said Stevens. She started at Vance as a bartender at the club more than three years ago.

Two months into starting the job, there was a significant personnel turnover. “I was a single mom and needed the job, so I asked what I could do to help,” said Stevens. She quickly became a caterer, learned the cash register and worked the cash cage.

Now she is the assistant club manager, although her boss, Dan Barzanti, the club manager, says she pretty much runs the place. “She is young, she is smart and she could be the unit director in just a few years,” he said.

That sits just right with Stevens’ plan to be a flight chief on her journey into leadership.

Another thing Stevens has in common with Hendricks is a bit of apprehension about the public speaking part of the ALS curriculum. “I’m not good at talking in front of people,” she said.

Hendricks thinks she will be out of her comfort zone when it is time for the public speaking part of leadership school. “I’m pretty shy. My job in Protocol is mostly behind the scenes so I can hide from the spotlight.”

Hendricks was recently named the Air Education & Training Command’s 2020 Key Spouse of the year.

“In addition to being an amazing Key Spouse, Ashley is the unseen force behind every graduation, distinguished visitor engagement, and official event the wing hosts,” said Col. Jay Johnson, the 71st FTW commander. “Week after week, Ashley puts all the pieces together behind the scenes to make Team Vance look great in everything we do,” he said.

Hendricks’ two daughters, ages 11 and 15, are her biggest cheerleaders. “Anytime I get to do something special, they think it’s really awesome,” said Hendricks. “I think they are proud of me.”

Stevens has been instrumental in the success of expanded evening programing at the Crosswinds Club, said Shane Schmitt, the 71st Force Support Squadron director. “Her work ethics and desire to get the job done right is key to her success,” he said.

Schmitt said attendance at ALS will help Stevens grow within her leadership role and prepare her for future leadership positions.

Civilians attending professional military education is gaining momentum across Air Education & Training Command, according to Master Sgt. Clinton Collins, the Altus ALS commandant, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. To date, 13 civilians have attended the Altus ALS.

Vance is a satellite campus for the Altus ALS. The campus was created six years ago and conducts two classes per year with 16 students per class. Two members of the Altus ALS staff come to Vance to conduct the training.

According to Collins, having the Vance campus saves approximately $145,000 annually in the cost of sending Vance students to Altus.

Collins and Tech. Sgt. Matthew Wait will instruct the ALS class Stevens and Hendricks are scheduled to attend.

“Civilians bring great conversations into the classroom,” said Collins. Many of the ALS students are supervised by civilians, he said. Collins believes ALS can better equip civilians for current and future positions supervising military members.

Having civilians in the ALS class is a unique opportunity, said Chief Master Sgt. Kristy Earls, the 71st FTW command chief. “It will benefit all the students, military and civilian alike, by enhancing their leadership perspective and encourage continued partnership between Vance’s mission partners,” she said.