On Friday, September 11, 2020, the 158th Fighter Wing (FW), Vermont Air National Guard (VTANG), hosted area civic and business leaders at the VTANG base in South Burlington for the Honorary Commander Program induction ceremony. Pam Mackenzie, C2’s VP of Strategic Planning and Implementation, was among ten new inductees recognized at the event.
The Honorary Commander Program provides the 158th Fighter Wing Commander and VTANG a strong community outreach opportunity. The program expands the 158th Fighter Wing Commander’s ability to foster relationships between local civic and business leaders and base personnel. It also serves as a vehicle for promoting a better understanding of the VTANG mission and community contributions. Actively integrating community and business leaders into the VTANG family builds strong relationships vital to the future success of the VTANG.
“The event was simple and elegant, surrounded by people I admire and respect. Being asked to join an organization your heart is deeply connected to with a vision and mission of service to our country, state, and community – I can’t think of any more inspiring.” – Pam Mackenzie
The program’s purpose is two-fold: It allows community participants to become more aware of the important VTANG and Department of Defense (DOD) military mission. It also allows military commanders and their units to learn more about the community in which they live. Public trust and community support are keys to a strong military structure. VTANG commanders and personnel benefit tremendously through increased association with the community and its leaders. This is the Wing Commander’s public relations tool that offers access and firsthand experience unavailable to the general public.
Each Honorary Commander (HC) is carefully selected for this program because of their outstanding performance in their personal and professional lives. Each has strived to make Vermont a better place to live and work. They are leaders in business, industry, and corporations and actively involved in their community – belonging to various civic organizations, influential in their own right with the capacity to reach and engage large audiences. They are ambassadors to help tell the VTANG story.
Raised in an Air Force family, Pam had no shortage of opportunity to travel and explore new places. From Hawaii, California, Arizona, and Wyoming to Ohio, Connecticut, and Washington DC, she learned a lot. Along the way, Pam enjoyed the opportunity to work in the Carter White House, and started a career in telecommunication building the first 100% fiber-optic system in Alameda, CA, which included Alameda Naval Air Station, and ensuring the Enterprise could “plug-in” when in port. Teaching construction engineers about tide tables during the project required a new set of exciting skills. In 2008, she was recruited to come to Vermont and build 300 miles of fiber, and when the project ended in 2010, she politely declined the opportunity to move again – she was home.
Having resided in South Burlington since 2008, Pam has been involved with VTANG since 2011 and has a deep appreciation and strong relationships within the organization. She has presented at their annual leadership conference in 2015 and helped Senator Leahy and the Command Staff increase awareness in South Burlington around the importance and impact of The Green Mountain Boys as F35’s were first being discussed.
During the three-year term, each Honorary Commander will have the opportunity to attend several events to include unit ceremonies, social functions, commander’s calls, graduations, award banquets, and other important events. These events allow HCs to meet many installations leaders and witness their missions and daily operations firsthand. The Honorary Commanders are encouraged to extend reciprocal invitations to their host military commander. This is a mutual support program allowing the host military commander to become familiar with their Honorary Commander’s place of business and the community in which they live and work.
Additionally, the base commander on behalf of each base will invite Honorary Commanders to participate in base-wide events throughout the year, such as the Vermont National Guard Ball, anniversaries, special commemorative events, change of command ceremonies, and to participate in civic leader tours. Each HC’s experience is different and depends on the dynamics of the organizations in which they are assigned.
Pam joins nine current and eight previous inductees including:
Heather Anderson – Owner/President, Leading Challenges/Vermont Vistage
Erica Danford – AVP, Dealer.com Managed Services Division
Clarence Davis – VP Development, University of Vermont
Tom Leavitt – President, Northfield Savings Bank
Neale Lunderville – President, Vermont Gas
Mitchell Norotsky – Head of Surgery, UVM Medical Center
Judy O’Connell – Managing Director, Champlain Investment Partners
Paul Ode – Managing Partner, DRM
Jon Pizzagalli – Pizzagalli Properties
Existing Honorary Commanders:
Lisa Ventriss – President/CEO, Vermont Business Roundtable
Jack Russell – Owner, Vermont Realty Group
Kevin Owens – CEO, Co-Founder Select Design
Win Smith – Retired President/COO, Sugarbush Resort
Ernie Pomerleau – CEO, Vermont Real Estate
Frank Cioffi – President, Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation
Sara Byers – President, Leonardo’s Pizza
William “Bill” Shouldice, IV – President/CEO, Vermont Teddy Bear