CCLD director says NCLS offers professional development opportunities
Col. Kurt Wendt, director of the Center for Character and Leadership Development, in his office at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., Jan. 5, 2023. Wendt’s focus is to develop leaders of character at the Academy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trevor Cokley)
By Senior Airman Michael Ward
U.S. Air Force Academy Strategic Communications
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Growing up in small-town Wisconsin, Col. Kurt Wendt was not sure what he wanted to do for a career. He did know, however, he wanted to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy due to the school’s reputation.
“Joining the Air Force was more about wanting to come to the U.S. Air Force Academy because it was a really good school, probably without knowing what all that meant,” said Wendt. Reflecting on his career, he said he made the right decision.
The decision to make the Air Force a career has allowed him to travel all over the world, immersing himself in different cultures and building his leadership capabilities. Wendt started his career as an intelligence officer and deployed in support of numerous operations worldwide.
The desire to make a difference led him back to the Academy, 27 years after he graduated as a cadet. Wendt is now the director of the Center for Character and Leadership Development, a title he does not take lightly.
Center for Character and Leadership Development
The Center for Character and Leadership Development is at the heart of educating, training and inspiring men and women to become officers of character in the United States Air Force and Space Force.
“The number-one priority of the U.S. Air Force Academy is developing leaders of character, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” said Wendt.
The Academy defines character as: “One’s moral compass; the sum of those qualities of moral excellence which move a person to do the right thing despite pressures to the contrary.”
The CCLD’s efforts directly impact future leaders by preparing them to live honorably, lift others and elevate performance. Wendt said the core values are the foundation of the Academy because they apply to everyone across the institution.
National Character and Leadership Symposium
The CCLD hosts multiple events and educational workshops throughout the year. Its flagship event, the National Character and Leadership Symposium, or NCLS, takes place Feb. 23-24 and registration is open through Feb. 9 for both in person and virtual attendance.
This year’s focus “reimagine leadership; inspire teamwork” is rooted in the leadership, teamwork, and organizational management institutional outcome and will explore the many facets of what it takes to lead in today’s complex environment.
NCLS brings together a wide variety of speakers, such as military leaders, Medal of Honor recipients, corporate executives, Academy graduates and even an astronaut. This year, speakers will bring their perspectives on what leadership and teamwork mean to them, and why it’s so important.
Wendt said the forum provides learning opportunities for cadets and seasoned professionals through presentations as well as small group workshops.
“I love seeing both the speakers and participants engaging at the small-group settings,” he said, “It’s part of what makes NCLS such a positive and unique experience.”
Learn more about this year’s NCLS and register here. Check out the video on demand for the 2022 symposium.
Col. Kurt Wendt, the Center for Character and Leadership Development director at the U.S. Air Force Academy, looks in the direction of the North Star at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., Jan. 5, 2023. The steel tower of Polaris Hall is angled in precise alignment with the North Star. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trevor Cokley)