Air Force Reserve Command crowns public affairs champ

Courtesy photo/Mrs. Chris Mahaney

MARIETTA, Ga. — The commander of the Air Reserve Personnel Center, Brig. Gen. Samuel “Bo” Mahaney, was presented the Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs Champion Award by Maj. Gen. Michael Kim, mobilization assistant to the AFRC commander at the AFRC PA Leadership Symposium in Marietta, Georgia., Feb. 9.

The AFRC PA Champion award recognizes commanders who provide exceptional leadership and support to their public affairs office and the career field as a whole. The competition was open to all AFRC. Nominations were submitted by their respective PA Office and judged by leadership at the command level.

During his acceptance speech Mahaney thanked the audience of more than 140 Reserve PA professionals from around the command. “When one gets an award from outside one’s career field, it’s a big deal. I have always said that my two most trusted advisors, as a commander, are my PA and my judge advocate.”

As commander of ARPC, Mahaney is responsible for personnel support to nearly 1 million Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and retired members, ensuring they are ready to deliver strategic Total Force war fighting capability for the Air Force. From initial entry to retirement,  the center provides world-class support for “Generations of Airmen” throughout their military careers.

In addition, Headquarters Individual Reservist Readiness and Integration Organization reports directly to Mahaney. Headquarters RIO is responsible for the readiness, accountability, personnel and administrative servicing of more than 8,500 Individual Reservists worldwide. The center is a major command direct reporting unit of Air Force.

“I believe that units with a great relationship between PA and CC are the strongest in the Air Force…why? Communication! Communication is the key. And without a strong PA, chances are that effective communication will not take place,” Mahaney said.

While the general was eager to point out that PA professionals provide critical guidance during strategic and change management planning, the general shared that he finds working with PA on internal messaging the most enjoyable.

“I’ve worked with ARPC PA to present a vision, complete with strategic goals and objectives, and my tenets of leadership. We have had loads of fun creating both serious and humorous videos, emails, voice messages, strategic documents, snapshots, Commander’s Calls, Porch calls, road shows, etc.,” said Mahaney.

“My favorite part of each week is the time I get to meet with PA. When I see that meeting on my schedule I get excited. My expectations sky rocket! I know that when that meeting is over something will have been created: an idea, a concept, a storyboard, an outreach plan. I love to innovate, create, and envision a future that works. That’s my common ground with PA.”

Mahaney went on to praise individual public affairs people and units reflecting what effect they have had on his work as a commander.

“Public Affairs professionals think in a way that awakens that part of me. You facilitate mission accomplishment at a different level and in a way that brings human experience and perception into the mix.

“I have a great deal of respect for the PA career field. Because of PA I have built wonderful relationships with members of the community. I get to introduce amazing celebrities like former Colorado Rockies pitcher Jason Hirsh and the Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco to the Air Force Reserve,” he said, smiling. “Because of PA, I have jumped from a perfectly good aircraft with the Canadian Parachute team. Because of PA, I have been on stage with Brad Paisley in concert. Because of PA I have built relationships with organizations like the USO and Sweethearts for Soldiers. And all the while we tell the stories of our amazing Citizen Airmen.”

The general wrapped up his speech commenting on what the award meant to him personally. “I do this as a labor of love, because you all have done so much for me especially those whom I have served as their commander. As I look out on this crowd, I see many that I have served with. I just want to say thanks to those people and to you all. When I was notified I had been selected for this award, I jumped at the opportunity to come before you all. Not to accept the award for myself, but as an opportunity to tell you all what you mean to me and what you mean to the Air Force. May God bless you all as you continue to move our Air Force into the future! Thank you very much.”