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Black History Month panel shares leadership insights

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs Office

Five leaders from across Team Scott shared their experiences and insights during a presentation Feb. 24 in support of Black History Month.

Each of the panelists briefly shared their life experiences as well as advice for how best to incorporate diversity and inclusion in the military. Those on the panel were:

- Lt. Gen. Randall Reed, Air Mobility Command deputy commander

- Brig. Gen. Terrence Adams, Director of Cyberspace Operations and Warfighter Communications

- Navy Fleet Master Chief Donald Myrick, U.S. Transportation Command senior enlisted advisor

- Army Maj. Alexis Jackson, USTRANSCOM J3 executive officer.

- Darren Johnson, 618th Air Operations Center chief of staff

One of the cornerstones of discussion for panelists was military diversity and inclusion, and how it continues to strengthen readiness and resolve. Reed spoke on how this impacts warfighters and its importance.

“From a warfighter perspective, when I think about diversity and inclusion, I think about an all-volunteer force of people who love and embrace freedom, and who are ready and willing to extend that freedom to others,” Reed said. “Everybody in this room fits that [description]. I see our diverse and inclusive view of the world, and the fact that we are willing to be the inspiration for all as our asymmetric advantage.”

Adams called on leaders to prioritize compassion, love and listening to Airmen during periods of social change, which he said will result in a stronger force.

“We should be concerned about the people in our formation. We should understand what they may be thinking and what they may be going through. How do we listen to understand? Not listen to refuse? Many of us have never been taught to listen,” Adams shared. “As leaders, we have an opportunity to do things differently. I would say that we're sitting in a library here today. You have a book to your left and your right, all you have to do is open it up,”

Myrick explained how diversity and inclusion programs have “only become better at bolstering our bonds with each other,” and the value they bring to Airmen. He spoke on the importance of senior leaders being vulnerable and reiterated “accountability is self-accountability to others.” During the presentation, Myrick also explained why inclusion and diversity is a crucial part of the nation’s success.

“To embrace inclusion and diversity is to me, value added to our nation. More importantly, it’s our ability to sustain ourselves as the greatest nation on earth.”

Jackson explained the importance of connecting with people and being present with them. She also spoke to recruitment efforts and how that should reflect today’s volunteer force.

“I believe that we can continue to promote inclusion and equality by ensuring that our volunteer force reflects that,” she said. “As we recruit from all different communities, it ought to be reflective of what our society looks like. And that is not just in gender or race, but it's also across demographics to ensure that we are bringing in those individuals who will provide diversity of thought. Without it, we will continue to be pigeonholed in our thinking, and we will never have change in our organizations.”

Speaking on his success as a civilian leader and how he empowers future leaders around him, Johnson advocated for each Airmen to be a proactive leader and to always be prepared.

“You just need to be authentic. You need to empower people to do their jobs and let them do their jobs. These are all things that have helped me,” he said.

When asked about moving forward toward a positive future together, Reed said that learning from history and experiencing pain helps people grow, and that he wanted the audience to learn from his mistakes so the same mistakes aren’t repeated.

He said he was pleased to see the amount of diversity in the audience, which is something he didn’t see when Black History Month conversations or celebrations first started within the Department of Defense. He then asked all those in attendance if they were determined to continue improving relationships with each other to please stand. Side by side, shoulder to shoulder, everyone in the audience stood up in unison.

He then said, “I have no worries about tomorrow.”