by 2nd Lt. Veronica Perez
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
9/10/2015 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Diversity
is an important component of the Air Force. No successful organization
can operate by working as individuals. Goals and progress are achieved
when individuals come together and work as one team. Airmen strive to
make other Airmen better in order to propel the mission to new heights.
Empowering female Airmen is an investment in the Air Force team and
20th Air Force is leading the way to ensure women continue to bring
their mindset and skills to a more diverse Air Force culture. The
first-ever 20th Air Force Women's Leadership Symposium is taking place
Sept. 14 through 16 at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. Enlisted
females (E4-E5) and female officers (O1-O3) selected from the wings and
units within 20th AF will have the opportunity to connect with each
other and gain insight and knowledge on leadership from various guest
"Diversity in our Air Force is vital to mission success," said Maj. Gen.
Jack Weinstein, 20th AF and Task Force 214 commander. "The unique
backgrounds and perspectives of all Airmen help us to grow and evolve
our combat capability."
Capt. Sandra Walker, Task Force 214 chief of combat assessments and
readiness, is the creator and project officer of the event. She was
inspired after attending a similar Navy women's symposium in San Diego,
California, this past summer.
"It was really inspiring to see that many women in one room," said
Walker. "There were hundreds of us and the networking piece was so
phenomenal that I really wished 20th AF would hold something like that."
After researching current statistics and data, Walker found that 16
percent of the Air Force is currently female, and the 20th AF is three
percent below that average. Additionally, Walker concluded that
approximately 54 percent of enlisted females and 89 percent of female
officers separate from the Air Force or cross-train into another career
field, prior to entering field grade officer or senior non-commissioned
"There are multiple reasons I imagine people decide to get out and
separate, and the symposium will provide us with direct feedback and
understanding of why," said Walker.
The mission of the symposium is to provide female Airmen professional
development through mentorship, education and networking, Walker said.
Various guest speakers include leaders within the military and civilian
worlds who will discuss important topics ranging from family and career
planning to higher education and leadership.
"Empowerment is a cornerstone of the changes we're making in the ICBM mission," said Weinstein.
"But before we can empower junior officers and enlisted we need to
coach, train and mentor them," he said. "This leadership symposium for
women will grow these Airmen professionally and examine ways in which we
can make our mission and our Air Force more inclusive."
Attendees will have the opportunity to sit down and speak candidly with
mentors in smaller group sessions to talk about any issues or concerns
in their work or personal lives.
"I think knowing that there are people that are like you out there and
you're personally getting to know them will make you realize you are not
the only one struggling with certain issues," said Walker.
Mentorship is invaluable toward development as leaders, and Walker hopes
attendees will make connections that will lead to long-lasting
"Together we can make a whole lot more happen, especially by encouraging
and supporting one another to move forward," she said. "And only
together can we increase opportunities, improve policies and achieve the
diversity we need to make 20th AF stronger."
Walker spoke very highly of all of the scheduled guest speakers,
including Chief Master Sgt. Felica F. Noil, Command Chief Master
Sergeant for the 91st Missile Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.
The variety of guest speakers, like Noil, brings different stories and
perspectives to inspire and motivate female Airmen.
"I believe women do need to see other women to empower each other and be
able to answer questions outside of their career field and the folks
they deal with every day," said Noil. "Hopefully, by what someone hears
they'll know, 'I can do that too'."
Staff Sgt. Randee Meyer, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of facilities
maintenance team training for the 91st MW, is attending the symposium
and hopes to learn from the experiences of speakers and pass on lessons
learned as a leader and mentor herself.
"I would just like to hear from these women what they think about being a
mentor and a leader in the Air Force, because my career-field doesn't
have very many women in it," she said. "I definitely try to keep people
in our career field, to keep doing our job and keep them in the Air
Force working hard."
Walker and Noil both want attendees to become aware of the resources,
options and contacts available to them in terms of making career
decisions in the future and to share the information with their home
"Hopefully the attendees can go back to their wings and provide feedback
on some level on what they learned, because every person, male or
female, can learn from this symposium," said Walker. "Together we
strengthen this numbered air force and build future leaders."