U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley hosts a Twilight Tattoo for honorees of the 2017 Salute from the Chief at Conmy Hall on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Arlington, Va., May 23, 2017. ( U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Austin L. Thomas)

Q&A with Presidential Leadership Scholar Meghan Ogilvie, Recipient of the Outstanding Service Award from the U.S. Army

Presidential Leadership Scholar Meghan Ogilvie receives the Outstanding Civilian Service Award from the U.S. Army for her work helping service-disabled veterans through a non-profit she leads, Dog Tag, Inc.

This Q&A takes an inside look at her meaningful work and how the Presidential Leadership Scholars program is helping her grow as a leader.

  1. Tell us about Dog Tag Inc. and how it makes a difference for veterans.

Dog Tag Inc. (DTI) empowers transitioning service-disabled veterans, military spouses, and caregivers to discover personal and professional fulfillment in the civilian world through an innovative five-month business and entrepreneurship-focused fellowship program.

Our program combines business and entrepreneurship coursework, ample personal development opportunities, and hands-on rotations throughout Dog Tag Bakery, our small business venture. Over the course of five months, Fellows explore a variety of career paths, learn about and how to utilize available resources, and establish vast personal and professional networks as they develop a personal roadmap for achieving personal and professional fulfillment post-service. We have an 88 percent graduation rate with 86 percent of our graduates back in the workforce, starting their own business or nonprofit, or back in school. We’ve just graduated our 5th cohort and the 6th cohort starting this July. It’s incredibly exciting!

Photo courtesy of Dog. Tag Inc.

2. How have you seen lives changed through the work at Dog Tag Inc.?

I have been fortunate enough to see many lives changed through Dog Tag Inc. and it’s so rewarding. Peter Scott, a graduate of our third cohort, served three tours as part of his service with the U.S. Army’s Special Forces. Upon his return, Pete, like so many, was left with both physical and invisible wounds. Pete began farming and beekeeping and came into our fellowship program with hopes of finding a way to harness his passion to positively impact the lives of other veterans and military families. Pete founded his 501c3 called Fields 4 Valor Farms while in DTI’s program and now grows produce and distributes it to families of service-disabled veterans at Walter Reed Military Hospital. Fields 4 Valor currently serves 10 families each month. We’ve had a recent Air Force veteran start his last year at the Culinary Institute of America. I’ve worked with a Marine who was designated disabled and unemployable work through the program to get her rating reversed to employable. She now has a service animal and just received her first internship offer. You can’t help but be humbled by each of our Fellow’s stories and feel grateful that they trust us with the process. Getting those calls fill my cup every day.

3. What intrigued you about the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program and what do you hope to take away from the program?

I wanted to gather more tools to be a more efficient leader and continue to push myself for the betterment of the organization. I also wanted to build a network of peers who I could utilize for counsel and to work with for greater social impact. When I read about the privy opportunity this program offered with the highest caliber of leaders in various fields dealing with complex decisions in their own roles being led by our nation’s finest Presidents, I was overwhelmed by the potential. My ultimate goal is to simply be a student so I can better reflect on how I approach my own leadership style and build confidence to not only be a better leader for my organization, but as an active member of society. I am also leaving with 59 friends and colleagues that I can and will call upon for support, counsel, and fellowship.

4. What have you found the most interesting about the PLS program so far?

We have scholars from all different fields, focusing on different societal needs, and approaching it from different angles for solution. As we sit as a collective, we listen intently about how our President’s led their team, advisors and the country through some of the most difficult situations. What I find to be most interesting is how key principles of leadership can translate from running the country to running Dog Tag Inc. For example, President George W. Bush said, “There are no simple answers to complex questions,” when he was talking about the financial crisis in 2008. This resonated with me as I had been beating myself up over the process of hiring a new director for our organization. That simple quote allowed me the space to step back and realize that I was going through a very thorough process not because I was indecisive, but because this hire was going to have a large impact on our future success. This program is allowing me to understand my own leadership style and values and have confidence in my own approach.

5. How do you plan to use the skills learned through the Presidential Leadership Scholars program to further your work supporting veterans?

Our goal is to measure the impact our program is having and then build a strategic plan in which we can expand our program to areas of the country. Going through the process of transitioning from a start-up to a well-operating organization has been rigorous. Now, as Dog Tag Inc. looks to expand, we’re having to approach it as a new phase from scratch. Through PLS, I’ve been able to utilize every session to frame the process of expansion starting with the core statement and values. If I can effectively use the network of scholars, both in my class and alumni, as well as the lessons taught by our country’s top leaders, we can have a greater effect on supporting our transition veterans with service-connected disabilities, spouses, and caregivers across the country.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley hosts a Twilight Tattoo for honorees of the 2017 Salute from the Chief at Conmy Hall on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Arlington, Va., May 23, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ricky Bowden)

This article was originally published by the Bush Center

To learn more about the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, visit www.presidentialleadershipscholars.org. For updates about the Presidential Leadership Scholars, use #PLScholars or follow @PLSprogram on Twitter.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated PLS Program’s story.