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PME creates master leaders

Maj. Tracy Reingruber, commander of the 162nd Communications Flight, performs routine command functions during January’s Unit Training Assembly. Maj. Reingruber recently attained a Master’s of Military Operational Art and Science from the Air Command and Staff College, and was selected as the Officer of the Quarter for the Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Heather Davis)

Maj. Tracy Reingruber, commander of the 162nd Communications Flight, performs routine command functions during January’s Unit Training Assembly. Maj. Reingruber recently attained a Master’s of Military Operational Art and Science from the Air Command and Staff College, and was selected as the Officer of the Quarter for the Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Heather Davis)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Maj. Tracy Reingruber, commander of the 162nd Communications Flight, epitomizes an educated, motivated and people-focused leader. A recent graduate of the Air Command Staff College's Master's degree program, she plans to apply her education and experience to propel the Communications Flight into a new generation of innovation and adaptability.

In October of 2012, Reingruber was awarded a Master's degree in Military Operational Art and Science after attending eleven eight-week courses geared toward Air Force operations and leadership. This is her second master's degree along with an extensive civilian career working in program management, acquisition, engineering, technology and military operations.

Reingruber enjoys education for the intellectual growth it provides her, and always finds something tangible that can be applied to her military and civilian careers.

"Experience is underrated in our society," said Reingruber.

Education and experience go hand-in-hand, like a yin-yang, she said, and both are necessary for success. Education enables learning by applying theory to life experiences. In areas where no experience exists, it provides a foundation for problem solving. Experience has given Reingruber a good basis for dealing with people, solving problems and technological innovation.

Since taking command of the Communications Flight, technological innovation and modernizing operations has been a priority for Reingruber to save valuable Wing assets. She plans to carry out these changes by empowering the Wing's greatest asset, its Airmen.

The ACSC focuses on growing the officer corps' mindset to think strategically while grooming our airmen to think innovatively, said Reingruber. Innovation is prompted by empowerment. The best way to develop empowerment is to teach Airmen to take ownership, how to problem solve, and to lead as well as follow; things that can be forged through mentorship.

"I am fortunate that I had mentors early on in my career that showed me what right looked like," said Reingruber. "They showed me a way to lead and engage my team so we had a success story at the end."

Reingruber plans to mentor the Communications Flight Airmen by challenging them with projects. The projects will teach them leadership and problem solving techniques, and to think about timelines, finances, stakeholders, personnel management and resource planning, she said. They will get to experience the same challenges their leaders face.

"My ultimate goal is to have a high performing team," said Reingruber. She hopes for a team that works cohesively, knows each other's strengths and weaknesses, and understands how their work impacts everyone else's; a team where individuals take ownership and pride in their work.

"I want people to look back and say, 'when I was here, I made a difference,'" said Reingruber.

Reingruber hopes that she can create an atmosphere where Airmen come to work with a sense of mission, and find accomplishment in their work.

"My goal is for everyone to have a success story that is theirs," she said. "That is the best reward for being a commander is that I changed their lives."