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NEWS | April 3, 2007

AETC's top program analyst retires from federal service

By Tech Sgt. Mike Hammond Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

In the fall of 1973, Meg Salvadore loaded up her worldly possessions and hopped in a car on a road trip from Massachusetts to the Pentagon. The goal of the trip: a GS-5 job "somewhere in the Pentagon" and $8,000 per year in pay. Though she got lost on the New Jersey turnpike along the way, that detour proved to be the only time she lost direction in her career goals. 

Mrs. Salvadore eventually completed her journey and found herself working as a clerk stenographer in the plans and operations area. Despite the modest and uncertain beginnings, Mrs. Salvadore retired March 30 after 34 years of federal service from a job with considerably more responsibility than her first. As the chief of the Program Objective Memorandum branch under AETC's Directorate of Plans, Requirements, and Programs, her job affected every area of the command - though many would not realize it. 

Her job, in broad terms, was to ensure AETC got its piece of the budgetary pie from the Air Force every year. To do this, she heard briefings on requirements and resources from each directorate's program element manager each January - then analyzed the data and drafted a plan with priorities and justifications for the funding requests. This plan, the Program Objective Memorandum, was presented each year to the AETC Group, the AETC Board, and finally the AETC Council where the AETC directors and commander gave final approval to the plan. 

The scope of the job: AETC's $56 billion Future Years Defense Program - funding for the entire command for five-to-six years at a time. 

With all the briefings and meetings to defend requirements, Mrs. Salvadore has had to be very outspoken and direct in communicating on behalf of the command despite not having a natural affinity for the spotlight. 

"I don't like public speaking and giving briefings," she said. "But what I do like about my job is that in the course of my duties I've learned about every mission and worked with every organization - and I've touched every major command." 

Mrs. Salvadore said she went from a GS-5 job as a clerk to being largely responsible for funding an entire major command's programs primarily by taking opportunities for career advancement when they were presented and being willing to be challenged. 

"I left plans and operations to work general officer matters in 1976. My boss there, a captain, eventually went into programs and resources," she said. "In 1984, he called me and asked if I wanted to come over to that area. He told me up front that I would be working odd hours and a lot of them. But there was an opportunity for upward mobility, so I took the job. He was right about the hours, but that move ultimately led me to where I work today." 

Mrs. Salvadore has worked at AETC since 1989, and in her current position for the last nine years. She leaves to "take time to enjoy life," leaving behind a team that will continue the important work of fighting for the slice of budget that allows AETC to "Develop America's Airmen today... for tomorrow."