Degree of High Difficulty


Scene Magazine | Spring 2022

Brian Almonrode shared the same sense of accomplishment any master's graduate feels after successfully juggling coursework with a family and a full-time career to complete his St. Ambrose Master of Organizational Leadership degree in December.

The journey was hardly typical for the Rock Island Arsenal-based civil servant, however, thanks to demands more uniquely challenging than most.

As the Director of Operations for the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), Almonrode supported two high-profile U.S. Army-led missions while completing his final project and thesis.

Both were big and timely assignments. Almonrode helped resettle 118,000 Afghan refugees from the largest airlift in human history following the U.S. exit from two decades of military presence in Afghanistan. That was added to his work facilitating efficacy testing for lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines as part of "Operation Warp Speed," which launched the previous fall.

As impactful as those projects were, the divorced dad from LeClaire, Iowa, called it all in day's work.

Followed, of course, by MOL homework.

"I didn't have a choice – just had to push through," Almonrode said about his final semester workload. "I would really focus on the weekends when I didn't have the kids."


Brian Almonrode

Based at RI Arsenal

As the Director of Operations for LOGCAP, Almonrode supported two high-profile U.S. Army-led missions while completing his final master's project and thesis.

LOGCAP's mission supports U.S. Armed Forces and coalition allies anywhere in the world, with everything from food, water and shelter to maintenance and transportation. "Operation Welcome Allies" continued into the spring, with Afghan refugees housed in barracks or tent cities on military bases around the country.

"A massive challenge," Almonrode said. "But that's what we do in a moment's notice."

Almonrode's work with "Operation Warp Speed" included building or expanding clinical testing facilities all over America. "We're still doing that, too," Almonrode noted. "It's incredibly gratifying working on something so much bigger than yourself."

Last summer, Almonrode was nudged by MOL professor Dan Ebener to return and finish his degree following a 29-month "incomplete" forced by a nearly year-long deployment to manage LOGCAP for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in the Middle East. Almonrode had rotated between Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan during a tour of duty that began in March 2019 - halfway through his final two and hardest classes. COVID shutdowns followed soon after his return home in early 2020.

"I needed to get it done, even with everything going on," Almonrode said of completing his master's work. "I worked so hard to get to where I was – and had put so much work into it – that I needed to make sure the job was completed."

Almonrode had previous leadership training at the Arsenal and during service in the Army Reserves. Yet, he credits the Master of Organizational Leadership program for helping him secure his challenging new job. He said it gave him the vocabulary to articulate concepts during an interview for the LOGCAP leadership role, which occurred a year after enrolling in the program.

"There's a big sense of accomplishment," Almonrode said of earning his degree. Considering all he's accomplished this past year, that MOL is in good company.

–Steve Tappa '91


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At SAU, hard work = recognition. Here is a list of full-time students who were named to the St. Ambrose University Dean's List for the Fall 2023 term. These students earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).

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