Leading by Example
North Central Region Commander Shares How to Lead Through Actions in Both Professional, CAP Careers
Leadership is defined as the action of leading a group of people or an organization. In some instances, those who define themselves as leaders lack action. Civil Air Patrol’s North Central Region commander is not one of those people.
Col. Regena Aye of Osage City, Kansas, leads the people in her professional and CAP careers through her actions, not her words. As the dean for online learning for Allen Community College, Aye has many responsibilities.
“I am responsible for pretty much the day-to-day management of the online program,” she said. “I report to the vice president of academic affairs. I handle everything from finding adjunct instructors to professional development to course development for our classes.”
Aye studied at the community college as a student before starting her first job there as an administrative assistant.
“My career at Allen has kind of mirrored my Civil Air Patrol career,” Aye said. “With CAP, I started as a cadet and moved up over the years to different positions. I’ve done the same thing at Allen. I started out as an administrative assistant and now I’m an administrator, so I’ve kind of moved through the whole system.”
CAP gave Aye the leadership skills she needed to be successful in her college career.
“Civil Air Patrol taught me a lot about leadership over the years,” she said. “I’ve been a student of leadership since my days as a cadet. It’s an art that you can study pretty much your entire lifetime and still find challenging. Every situation is different.
"CAP gave me practical leadership experience, so that gave me a lot of confidence in building a program and leading others, and that is what I do at the college. My CAP leadership experience helped me build a strong resume of experiences before I started at the college.”
The leadership skills that Aye has acquired through Civil Air Patrol translate not only in her professional career but also in her role as North Central Region commander. Aye took over as region commander in May 2016, and leads the Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota wings.
“There are eight region commanders, and we each manage multiple states or wings,” Aye said. “I get to mentor those wing commanders. I also get to have an influence on policy in the direction of the organization through the Command Senior Advisory Council. I get to represent CAP in activities in the region, which is one of the best parts of the job, honestly.
"You get to hand out awards. You get to be at things like Congressional Gold Medal presentations, which are absolutely inspiring. You get to meet these amazing volunteers who give back to this organization.”
Being region commander requires Aye to travel several weekends each month and spend many evenings at Civil Air Patrol functions. Due to her busy schedule with both jobs, Aye said balance is important.
“I like to say balance is important in all things,” she said. “I have my job as the dean during the day, and sometimes that flows over into evenings and weekends. My region commander duties will usually be in the evening or the weekend. It means a lot of work. It just makes for a busy life. I think that’s something that CAP does teach pretty well. You have to follow through and make a commitment, and you have to maintain that balance.”
Aye joined CAP as a cadet at 17. She learned about the program through a high school classmate, then joined for the leadership opportunities.
“Over time I grew to love all of Civil Air Patrol’s missions, but what drew me to CAP was leadership,” she said. “I was motivated to continue to participate as an adult, because I had such a wonderful experience in the program. I think it benefited me so much that I want to make sure that other people have those same opportunities to experience the benefits that I’ve had.”
Brig. Gen. Rich Anderson, a former North Central Region commander who became national commander and later chairman of CAP’s Board of Governors, said Aye’s leadership skills have impressed him since the 1980s, when he first met her during a visit to a Kansas Wing activity.
“As a former North Central Region commander myself, I know the region, the seven assigned wings and the great volunteers who perform Civil Air Patrol’s assigned missions on a daily basis,” Anderson said. “Col. Aye approaches her duties as North Central Region commander with a servant-leader’s approach, which is an effective leadership and management style. She is consistently willing to lead by example and to inspire her members to greater achievements.”
Anderson said Aye’s most standout accomplishment is her capacity to step forward and lead her members to elevated levels of achievement.
“I have long admired and respected her capacity for leadership and service,” he said. “As a former commander, I have a vested interest in the North Central Region and rest easy knowing that she is in command.”