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Looking Challenges Straight in the Eye

Washington Wing’s Deputy Director of Cadet Programs Gives Back to CAP Youth

Alex Jacks
Contributing Writer

Challenges are ever present in the world today, and while many shy away, Civil Air Patrol’s deputy director of cadet programs in the Washington Wing seeks them.

Maj. Clay Amann faces them every day as the owner of T Square Design LLC, an architectural design firm in Seattle, and as a key member of his wing.

“Architecture is definitely a challenge, I would say,” Amann said. “It’s an intellectual challenge, but it also has a lot of challenges of getting people to walk in the same direction. It’s hard to communicate effectively what’s in your head, and then to get other people to realize the idea and move on it. It’s one of those challenges that you’re kind of drawn to — at least I was.”

Despite the challenges Amann has encountered while starting his own business, his Civil Air Patrol training has afforded him the skills to work through them and lead five to 15 employees to take on architecture projects for Seattle’s building community.

“Civil Air Patrol taught me not to shy away from challenges,” he said. “I think that was probably one of the leading influences in my early life — definitely while getting through school and getting into the workforce. Without that prior experience of working through adversity, there is probably no way I could have faced the challenges that I have.

"As far as my job later on, team leadership is also something that I learned in Civil Air Patrol that definitely translated over very well into the real world,” Amman said.

​Many of the challenges he has faced while running his design firm have translated to his duties as the wing’s deputy director of cadet programs over the last three years. “What I do is help pave the curriculum for any activities that happen with cadet training,” Amann said. “The overall composition of what they’ll learn is something I help shape and push out the door with a lot of these programs.

"I’m responsible for the cadet corps at the Washington Wing’s encampment, and for making sure the training and discipline level is where it needs to be among the cadets," he said. "Overall my job is to make sure everyone is learning and getting taken care of within our many programs.”

Amann believes his roles professionally and personally are extremely similar.

“Leadership is leadership,” he said.

“I think understanding people’s motivations and getting them to want to work together toward a common objective is pretty universal. It’s a little easier when one group is getting paid, but the quality of people in Civil Air Patrol is of a higher caliber than I am used to just running into randomly in the professional world.”

Washington Wing Director of Cadet Programs Lt. Col. Kathy Maxwell met Amann eight years ago when he was a cadet. She said Amann proved to be a leader early in his Civil Air Patrol career.


“He was always a leader in the cadet program, interested in leadership and emergency services,” she said. “As he gained rank and finally attained the Spaatz award, we often worked together at wing events. He was as well-organized and capable then as he is today.”

After Amann’s mother told him about her time in Civil Air Patrol, he decided to join the organization as a cadet at 14 years old.

“When I was thrown into my first meeting, I saw people marching around in uniforms,” he said. “I just kind of knew that it was going to be more structured than the Boy Scouts, and that definitely drew me in.”

Amann graduated from Civil Air Patrol’s cadet program as Gen. Carl A. Spaatz recipient No. 1,750 in January 2010.

“I got a lot of good out of Civil Air Patrol, and I think that’s what motivated me to become a senior member,” Amann said. “I wanted to be able to give back, since the program really helped me out.

"Also, I’ve always been drawn to challenge, and there is no better challenge for youth than Civil Air Patrol,” he said.

Maxwell said although Amann is still in the early stages of establishing his life and professional career, he remembers the mentoring he received as a cadet — something he readily provides for cadets today.

“He makes the time to work with any cadet leader needing his help,” she said. “He is also a great mentor to young seniors who work with the cadet program. He visits squadrons often and offers suggestions to strengthen their programs.

"Seldom do we see someone in Clay’s age group giving so much time and energy to the country’s youth,” Maxwell said.

Amann's accomplishments are highlighted in the new issue of Civil Air Patrol Volunteer, which celebrates Cadet Programs’ 75th anniversary by focusing on how former cadets’ experiences have helped shape their lives and careers in and out of CAP.

To support Civil Air Patrol cadets and their academic and flight goals, consider donating to Cadet Scholarships. 

If you are interested in setting up a designated CAP cadet scholarship in your state or region, contact CAP's Development Office.