When it comes to living life, Col. Vic Budura, USAF (Ret.), certainly is above par, which is good in his personal and professional life, but not so good for his golf—a sport he’s played since age 12. Col. Budura may not be the next Tiger Woods or Bubba Watson on the green, but he has been the person who has been instrumental in driving the AFCEA Huntsville Chapter from dormancy to Model Chapter of the Year in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Developing something out of not much is a task the colonel is familiar with from his 30 years in the Air Force. He helped create the first Air Force squadron whose mission was to fly communications satellites. He was the first commander of the 3rd Satellite Control Squadron when Schriever Air Force Base was still named Falcon Air Force Base; the squadron was ready in time to support Operation Desert Storm.
During the last seven years of his Air Force career, Col. Budura served as a faculty member at the Air War College. After retiring, the colonel took a job with the Boeing Company, where he worked with the Missile Defense Agency. He now is a program manager and involved in business development at Davis Strategic Innovations.
The colonel and a handful of volunteers brought the Huntsville Chapter back to life about six years ago. After surveying existing organizations in the area, the group could not understand why the AFCEA chapter was dormant, so they set a course for reviving it by finding the best possible speakers for bimonthly luncheons. To raise scholarship funds, Col. Budura and his chapter cohorts turned to one of his favorite pastimes and began sponsoring annual golf tournaments.
But the chapter’s technical symposia brought about the largest increase in both funds and membership, the colonel relates. “The Raytheon Company and Kenny Watts, our past president, have been our constant community partners and hosts for our annual technical symposia,” he says. In 2010, the chapter’s technical symposium, which the Counter Artillery and Mortar program manager office sponsored, focused on force protection systems. It included prototype systems used in Iraq. Last year, the conference put the spotlight on civil emergency responder command, control and communications systems. This year’s symposium, which is a classified event, takes place on April 27 and centers on cyberdefense. “The feedback has been very rewarding as each met a need for information in the local contractor and civilian communities,” the colonel states.
“As a byproduct of attendance [at the symposia], we offered free AFCEA memberships to attendees, and we gained over 150 members this way,” he adds. While paying for individual memberships costs the chapter some of its revenue, it has been well worth the investment by increasing chapter membership numbers from single digits to 315 members.
The chapter also has partnered with other IT organizations to sponsor joint luncheons. Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, USAF (Ret.), former deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, spoke at the 2011 event. The 2012 joint luncheon featured Lt. Gen. Robert Elder Jr., USAF (Ret.), who led U.S. Air Force Cyber Command development. “The attendance for each of these joint luncheons was close to 300, and they also provided funds for our scholarship program,” Col. Budura relates.His professional and AFCEA experience has taught the colonel much about leadership, which he says requires vision, enthusiasm, delegation and service. “Unless the leaders have a vision, the people perish … close to the proverb. The leader must show enthusiasm and dedication for the vision he is articulating. Find good people, tell them what needs doing and get out of their way. Humility in service should recognize that AFCEA is a way of giving back to the community and not for personal enrichment,” he states.