Since becoming the installation commander of Hill Air Force Base, Col. Kathryn Kolbe has strived to fully integrate the installation, its missions, and its men and women into the fabric of the surrounding community in northern Utah.
Under Kolbe, Hill has been an early adopter of DOD’s section 331 authority allowing installations and communities to share base support services, and partnered with the state and local school districts to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Kolbe has actively participated in the leadership of a host of local civic groups, including the Top of Utah Military Affairs Executive Committee, the Ogden Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors and local council of governments.
For her efforts to reach out to neighboring municipalities and the state government to support both the installation and surrounding communities, ADC has awarded Kolbe the association’s Military Leadership Award.
To take advantage of the new section 331 authority, Kolbe met with local mayors, chambers of commerce and the Governor’s Office of Veterans and Military Affairs to craft a 10-initiatve partnership portfolio valued at $23 million. The partnerships include an agreement with the Utah Transit Authority to provide integrated train and bus service for Hill employees, an association with 11 colleges and universities for students to operate the base library for college credit, and arrangements with two local visitor bureaus to provide economical off-base lodging.
To advance STEM education in Utah, the installation launched its STARBASE program to teach at-risk sixth graders. Through a separate initiative, Hill teamed with multiple universities, school districts and private sponsors to provide STEM education outreach to 31,500 students, 1,300 teachers and 229 schools in 2013 through science fairs, engineering days and other innovative learning modules.
Kolbe’s strong support of the Falcon Hill Research Park, a 550-acre enhanced use leasing project, has showcased the installation’s ability to collaborate with a state government and private developers. Under her leadership, the project has resulted in the construction of a base gate, security forces facility and a base support contractor facility at no cost to the Air Force. Upcoming projects include two retail establishments, a joint use support contractor/Air Force office building and demolition of several outdated offices.
Award winners will be recognized at a special ceremony on Capitol Hill next month during the Defense Communities National Summit.