Alumni Spotlight: Dennis Greene ’86
Dennis Greene spent 32 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a Colonel. He retired from a second career as a Federal Investigator with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Denver Oct. 31, 2020, and serves as Executive Director of the Denver Technological Center/Greenwood Village Chamber of Commerce, located in one of the nation‘s top 30 economic zones in south suburban metro Denver. He is currently being recruited for an executive corporate position in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He earned an Associate in administrative management from the Community College of the Air Force, a Bachelor’s in business management from CSU, a Master’s degree in human resources management from Troy State University, and a Master’s in strategic studies from Air University at Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
Interest in the Air Force Leads to Career
I wanted to be in uniform from the time I was seven and read about the Cub Scouts in World Book Encyclopedia but never mentioned it to anyone because I knew we could not afford it. This desire continued at age 11 being named “Top Camper” during a youth City (Savannah, Georgia) Social Program, summer 1971 at Fort Stewart, Ga. I wanted to go into the Air Force right out of high school along with a childhood friend, but my mother resisted and since I was still only 17, she would not sign for me as a minor. My step-father is a double Purple Heart recipient, Marine Corps, Vietnam, 1965 who almost died in combat. Mom was having nothing to do with me following in his footsteps.
Coming from a strong Southern Baptist background, I attended Chowan College, running varsity track and secretly enlisted in the Air Force May 24, 1979, when I was old enough to sign for myself at 19. Mom was not happy. A pastor, she did pray for me daily, which helped immensely. My first assignment was at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in September 1979.
It was there several of us Airmen met Major Turner Wilford from Det 772, Baptist College at Charleston, who often made recruiting trips to the base. Several of my friends and I made a pact to become Officers, a few of us through Det 772, including Anthony “Tony” Mattox ’84, Curtis Jones ’83, and Nick Demarco ’86.
Nick and I even won the campus intramural basketball championship for ROTC the year we graduated and were commissioned in 1986. I was proud to have been named one of three ROTC Distinguished Graduates. Tony became a pilot and retired as a Major; Curtis became a navigator and retired as a Major; and Nick and I retired as full Colonels, way beyond our wildest dreams as Airmen at Myrtle Beach. I retired from the Air Force June 30, 2011.
The lessons learned over my 30+ year Air Force career prepared me well for the corporate world. My proudest Air Force career moment was being the officer who ordered helicopters rescue citizens stranded on their rooftops after the levies broke in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, during my first day on the job as Director of the Air Combat Command Operations Center. That is a story in itself.
Insider Tips for Success as a Leader
Always be true to yourself, especially when you’re tempted with an opportunity that’s just a little bit out of your lane. The best that can happen is that you perform well in constant mental anguish, with failure looming for the worst. Also, always remember, nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care!
Moving forward toward goals for my family, my community and for myself. Having lost several close friends recently, knowing tomorrow is not promised motivates me to make the most of each day.
Favorite Books that Inspire
John Maxwell’s Leadership Bible, and Colin Powell’s autobiography, My American Journey.
I contributed to a book published in late September, Paradoxes of Power. For more information see my blog, “Why We Wrote This Book, Part II” at www.paradoxesofpower.com. [Follow Dennis on LinkedIn to read more of his recent articles.]
Methods for Motivating Your Team
Transparency is key, fueled by core values I learned in the Air Force of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all you do. Always remember, a leader without followers is simply taking a walk.
Passing on Values
To always get up after being knocked down. My life on paper looks pretty good. However, I’ve been knocked down more than once, starting life over following divorce, being a single father, and finding redemption through God’s love, grace, and mercy. I’m happy to say that redemption includes Jacqueline, the love of my life, my 36-year-old (step) son Durell, and my 32-year-old son, Darryl. We go by 3D – Dennis, Darryl, and Durell. So always know that God is a forgiving God, and that when things look bleak, He’s always got your back.