The 355th Wing’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and the Women Inspiring the Next Generations (W.I.N.Gs) DM Chapter, hosted a Women’s Leadership Symposium at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., March 15-17, 2022.
The three-day symposium focused on inspiring and advocating for the next generations of Airmen and their families by encouraging professional growth and independence, making connections through social, cultural and recreational activities.
Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, Department of the Air Force Chief of Safety, was one of the featured guest speakers, who shared her perspective on fortitude and her experience as the first female fighter pilot.
“Having resilience, that’s something you have to build in yourself,” said Leavitt. It’s something we all have to work on. It’s the courage and resolve, strength of character, the absolute unwillingness to stay down. Life’s going to knock you down, but you’ve got to get back up and dust yourself off, come back with that much more determination that you’re going to pursue what you want.”
Leavitt’s remarks reminded everyone in attendance the strategic advantage of diversity across our force and set the tone for the preceding conversations.
“Representation really is everything, “said Master Sgt. Roxanne Alvarado, 355th Maintenance Group executive. “If you can see it, you can be it.”
Discussions at the symposium gave Airmen and their families the opportunity to be heard by addressing complex problems that are facing our Airmen and their families today.
“We really wanted the families to know that when we talk about leadership and professional development, they are very much included in our discussions,” Alvarado said. “As military members, we could honestly not do what we do without the support of our families.”
Through the panels of speakers, breakout sessions and opportunities to come together; the symposium fostered a safe space to have impactful conversations.
“Life is a journey, finding your identity can be difficult,” said Tech. Sgt. Stacey Demapan, 355th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School instructor. “Let us promote a culture of support for one another. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you did your best to be a better human being.”
The U.S. Air Force’s diversity is its biggest strength; the different backgrounds, experiences and knowledge Airmen all bring to the table are what makes us the strongest force in the world.
“I’m hoping this lights a fire in individuals to take action and make changes,” said Alvarado. “If we don’t make changes now, we’ll still be talking about it later.”
Editor’s note: The mention of the private organization, Women Inspiring the Next Generations (W.I.N.Gs), does not constitute endorsement of affiliation by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base or the U.S. Air Force.