An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Leadership Pathways: Aiming High and Soaring to New Heights

  • Published
  • By Britianie Teston
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In the United States Air Force, where precision and readiness are the cornerstones of operational excellence, and the commitment to well-rounded leaders is at the forefront of the mission, you can find the four pillars of readiness - mental, physical, social, and spiritual. These pillars serve as balance, strength, and resilience for Team Kirtland.    

The Leadership Pathways program, which originated at Kirtland in 2014, is an incentivized development program designed as a holistic approach to leadership and development. Leadership Pathways offers military members and civilians the opportunity to grow and develop as leaders, individuals, and members of the community through specialized courses, community outreach, and volunteer opportunities.

Kirtland’s Force Development Center, Military and Family Readiness, and Kirtland Helping Agencies offer classes in topics that range from new parenthood to finances to social and spiritual wellness. The class offerings are extensive, and include topics such as parenting, investing and homebuying, emotional intelligence, relationship skills, and leadership. There are even classes that focus on how to commission, transitioning from military to civilian life, and resume building. 

Beyond the classroom, participants can earn points through volunteer opportunities, both on base and in the local community. Participants in the program earn a Leadership Pathways coin and can earn a Leadership Pathways Certificate of Accomplishment currently worth 250 points.

Once a participant earns 500 points, they can become eligible for an Air Force Achievement Medal. SrA Malik Thornton, one of Kirtland’s 500-point earners, found joy in the idea that he could not only accelerate his career, but also give back to the community.

“Especially not being from here, it gave me something to do, and I like to give back.” Thornton said, as he described his experiences handing out groceries to low-income families. “It gives you a sense of community.”

In addition to volunteering, Thornton explained how his interest in the Leadership Pathways program began in a “How to Commission” class. “I learned you’ve got to get outside your comfort zone, and that just doing your job is not enough. You want to stand out.”

Fundamentally, the Leadership Pathways program encourages a comprehensive approach to leadership and development.

“It’s not just understanding decorations and awards, but that holistic approach to leadership and being physically and mentally healthy,” said MSgt Jesse Bechtel, Force Support Squadron Development Advisor. Bechtel noted that even if a class doesn’t apply to you directly, the program offers resources for leadership to give to their airmen to learn, grow, develop, and explore.

“You can be a leader at any rank,” said Bechtel, sharing that the Leadership Pathways program is open to all Kirtland personnel, including active duty, reserve, guard, civilians, and spouses. Anyone who wants to learn something new can benefit from the Leadership Pathways program and opportunities.


Leadership is not just a role, but a lifelong commitment to growth, service, and excellence. Kirtland’s Leadership Pathways Program encourages you to take the leap into our local community and discover the possibilities that await.

For more information on the Leadership Pathways program, please contact