About Don Potoczny
(/poe - TOUCH - knee/)
Why Don Is An Ideal Candidate
In this episode, Career & Networking Center Executive Director Kim White sits down with United States Army Colonel Don Potoczny to discuss the assets veterans bring to the workforce.
Don is currently an administrator in a Chicago public high school. He serves as the Commandant for Patton Leadership Academy at Farragut Career Academy IB World School. Located in one of the most disadvantaged areas of the city, Don’s program teaches civics, leadership, communication, and other life skills to children most in need.
Don also serves as the President of the Board for the DuPage Symphony Orchestra. He led the board through the difficult decision to cancel this season and has refocused their priorities during the hiatus. He recently doubled the size of the board to enable the organization to develop educational and community outreach programs while building a long-term strategy for growth.
A lifelong learner, Don is currently pursuing his EdD from Northern Illinois University. He is active in many organizations in the community, especially those that support our veterans.
Over a distinguished military career, Colonel Potoczny developed a reputation as one of the most innovative trainers in the U.S. Army. He has built diverse teams all over the world to solve some of our allies’ most difficult problems. Colonel Don Potoczny enlisted in the United States Army Reserve in 1985 serving in uniform for over thirty-five years. He served in a wide variety of roles in the reserve components including supply sergeant, tank loader, infantry team leader, and air defense platoon leader. Colonel Potoczny spent his lieutenant years at Fort Sill, OK, home of the Field Artillery. He began as a fire direction officer for a M109A3 battery, then MLRS platoon leader, battery executive officer, then battalion and brigade personnel officer.
Colonel Potoczny served in Korea for ten years, spending time on nearly every Army staff on the peninsula. As a captain, he was selected to command the Army’s last separate MLRS battery, A/38 FA. During that command, the battery was transformed into a battalion, 1-38 FA. In subsequent tours, Colonel Potoczny was selected to serve as the battalion S3 and, later, its battalion commander. Following battalion command, Colonel Potoczny was selected to serve at Human Resources Command as the Field Artillery Branch Chief. His team managed the assignments for over 19,000 field artillery soldiers around the world.
Colonel Potoczny has deployed to Iraq three times. As a young Army specialist, he volunteered for Operation Desert Storm. Following battery command, he served as an advisor to reserve units. In that capacity, he deployed to assist a brigade through their deployment. He later deployed to Iraq during the transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn. In fact, Colonel Potoczny had the honor of assisting the theater commander with his guidance for ending combat operations. To enable the US withdrawal, Don developed training plans for the Iraqi Army. That training directly led to the Iraqis later counterattacking and pushing ISIS out of their country.
At the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC), Colonel Potoczny led the targeting and information operations efforts. His experience as an artillery officer and unique perspective as an allied officer enabled him to integrate a myriad of functions into a cohesive team playing a vital role in developing Canada’s national targeting capability. In Ottawa, Don created a team to address Canada’s most complex and pressing challenge – the information domain. Numerous government activities endeavored to address developing threats and build capabilities. Don created the Joint Operational Effects (JOE) Team to synchronize many of these efforts. The JOE Team integrated public affairs into operation, coordinated senior leader engagements around the world, and operationalized a host of capabilities.
Don also identified challenges for staff coordination across the headquarters. The functionally-aligned staff had developed impenetrable silos with officers assigned regional responsibilities. Don recognized a transformative opportunity to increase collaboration. He developed Regional Working Groups to connect desk officers across the functional staff. He led these working groups to share perspectives and they reached a level of teamwork they never imagined possible. Don’s team played a key role in preventing foreign interference in Canada’s last national election.
Education & Leadership in the Military
Don personally created his unit’s leader development program that became the model for the entire division. He committed to a weekly program that assembled every officer for a holistic program on wide-ranging activities. His reading program encouraged habits of lifelong learning by requiring reading, writing, and discussing professional texts. He brought in guest speakers from other units and academia.
Don Potoczny is a native of Chicago, Illinois. He comes from a family with eight children, all of whom are fans of the Chicago Bears and Cubs. He has been married to Didem Cal, since 2007. Didem is from Turkey and received her American citizenship in 2012. Together, they have a ten-year-old son, Alexander and a new puppy, Luna.