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New AEDC group working to create a more inclusionary environment

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --

A new Arnold Diversity and Inclusion Council met virtually for the first time in mid-May. The group provides a forum for the sharing of programs and practices which have proven effective in enhancing diversity and inclusion across the organization.

“Diversity can be a bit of a challenging word,”  said Misty Layne, Council Chairperson. “Some see it as offensive. Some think it’s triggering. Really, it’s about embracing everyone for their own merit and value. Everyone has their own unique experiences. One person’s experiences does not discount another’s. The focus of the council helps us all to be better citizens, better Airmen, so we can support each other in our everyday lives and at work.”

As a primary goal, the council is charged with overseeing initiatives that support a diverse workforce. A secondary goal is to provide an inclusive culture to strengthen mission effectiveness across Arnold Engineering Development Complex, or AEDC.

Although many may interpret the perception of diversity and inclusion as a relatively novel concept, Misty Layne points out this is hardly the case.

“One of America’s founding fathers, Thomas Paine, said, ‘The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion,’” Layne said. “His words capture the dignity and respect we should deliver and expect of one another.”

The Arnold D&I Council was established after Air Force Materiel Command required each installation under its command to appoint a D&I lead. AEDC Commander Col. Jeffrey Geraghty, appointed Layne to this role in August 2020.

With the exception of Layne and co-chair Mike Dent, the council is comprised completely of volunteers. Five members of the 25-member council are from the 704th Test Group, located at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. The remaining volunteers are local to Arnold Air Force Base, headquarters of AEDC. Champion Members include: Air Force Test Center Senior Leader Thomas P. Fetterhoff, PhD., 704 TG Commander Col. Darren P. Wees, AEDC Test Division Chief Col. Lincoln Bonner, and Interim AEDC Headquarters Superintendent Senior Master Sgt. Jason R. Harlan.

In addition to the local council, Layne represents AEDC on AFTC’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. This four-person team is comprised of AFTC and tenant unit D&I leads. Ronald Turner is the AFTC D&I manager at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Shona Wood is lead for the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, California, and Cecil Williams is the lead for the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The four work closely together to synergize D&I efforts across AFTC as initiated by AFMC.

In late May, Layne submitted the Arnold D&I Council’s Command Action Plan, or CAP, for D&I to AFTC. Arnold’s plan, along with those of Eglin AFB and Edwards AFB, were briefed in June to AFTC Commander Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano.

The Arnold CAP, which was in response to the AFMC D&I survey open to its installations in late 2020, calls for a D&I brief to be added to the new employee checklist. Per the plan, monthly talking points are to be provided to leadership and first-level supervisors. This action step promotes awareness of the D&I program and encourages camaraderie and workforce engagement. The plan also calls for sensing sessions to be hosted on a recurring monthly basis. These sessions will increase opportunities for Airmen to engage with other Airmen as it relates to their background and cultural experiences.

“As the council continues to meet and share experiences, we are hopeful for the discovery of new ways in which AEDC can further expand on diversity and inclusion,” Layne said.

In an article published for the AFTC D&I second quarter newsletter, Layne wrote, “Though we are many, diversity and inclusion (D&I) ensures that we act as one united force.”

“No two Airmen are exactly the same, he or she brings to the mission their own uniquely diversified experiences, wisdom and knowledge,” Layne further wrote. “Our differences are real and shouldn’t be discounted, but rather embraced for their value and ability to strengthen how we fly, fight and win. Garnering the many facets that make us a diverse and inclusive whole, we dignify the profession we share in common. This process challenges us, inspires us and reminds us we are part of an even larger accountability system.

“At our best, we are a cohesive product of knowledge, understanding, ability and awareness. At all levels, we continue to lean further into diversity and inclusion through our new assignments, experiences and education. However, our greatest teachers will always be each other. By remaining accountable to ourselves and each other, we hold steadfast at the heart of the matter. The Air Force Core Values and D&I signify where the rubber meets the road, a place where all Airmen know and feel they belong.”

Going forward, the Arnold D&I Council will meet once a month. Layne said communication and sharing of wing-level information among AFTC teammates is frequent and ongoing. The AFTC team also participates in regular meetings with D&I leads from across the AFMC.

Layne added the Arnold D&I Council’s minutes are posted monthly to the Team AEDC SharePoint site and are accessible to the workforce. All relevant D&I information will be provided and communicated via appropriate distribution channels such as the announcements section of the Team AEDC homepage, official email and an individual’s organizational chain of command. 

Membership to the Arnold D&I Council is open to DOD civilians and military wishing to directly contribute and support the success of local D&I initiatives. Anyone interested in joining the team may contact Layne for further information.