JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, Washington, D.C. –
Six months ago, I joined this incredible team as the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and 11th Wing Commander. While I did know that I’d be joining two amazing female leaders to guide our organization into the future, what I didn’t know was that we would be the first ever all-female command team for JBAB and the wing and one of the first in the Air Force.
As I met with my new teammates, Vice Commander Col. Erica Rabe and Command Chief Master Sgt. Christy Peterson, we went back and forth on if we wanted to highlight this milestone broadly and publicly. After careful discussion and despite our feelings of discomfort bringing additional attention on ourselves personally, we came to a profound conclusion: this discussion was not about us.
This was a discussion about representation for girls and women, inspiration and hope for all people, and a message to current and future leaders everywhere.
When our Air Force senior leaders made the decision to place Colonel Rabe, Chief Peterson and me in these positions, they didn’t have a vision to create an all-female command team. They reviewed each of our records deliberately and diligently to ensure we, as Airmen, were the right fit for the job. What they created, though, was an opportunity for us as the first all-female command team here to share a message of diversity, equity, inclusion, motivation and hope.
It was surprising that in 2021, at the time of my change of command ceremony, we would still be celebrating milestones of firsts as women. Thankfully, we will not be the last, but we still have so many firsts yet to achieve for so many people
We’ve come such a long way from women having to hide their feminine features, disguising themselves as men, to be able to serve in combat alongside their fellow patriots. But we still have a lot of work to do in eliminating discriminatory policies and fostering a culture of inclusion. It’s my belief that when our founding Air Force leaders created these policies, they did not do so with the intent to deliberately exclude. We’ve learned with time and intention that we were just as fallible as our broader society in building systemic exclusivity, making it harder for some to break through barriers to success. What makes me so proud to be an Airman and to be a part of this organization, is that our senior leaders and Airmen at all levels are taking deliberate actions to eliminate unnecessary barriers for all our teammates.
We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it to change the future.
I look at the faces of our teammates across the installation, and I see hope. I see the future. I see leaders of all ranks and demographics.
When I think about what it is our all-female command team stands for, I think about the young women and men who see us at one of the highest levels of Air Force leadership and realize that they can reach for the stars. I think about our Airmen who see us and know that they can achieve this and so much more.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I’m so grateful for so many women who fought for the opportunities I have had throughout my lifetime, and I am in awe of our Air Force female pioneers who bulldozed a path for the rest of us. Each milestone we achieve toward a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Air Force for all people can be an inspiration for generations of leaders as they see a professional organization that embodies the spirit of inclusion and opportunity based on merit, attitude and aptitude.
I’m so proud and humbled to be a part of this team. I am grateful to have the privilege of wearing the uniform and serving as your commander with incredible teammates. I know each of you have your own stories of learning and growing through adversity, and I hope I have an opportunity to hear from every one of you as we build a stronger force together. Join me as we strive to live and serve every day with H.E.A.R.T. – Honesty, Effort, Attitude, Respect and Teamwork.