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Air Force employee wins volunteer award and looks toward retirement

Official portrait of Jacqueline Fisher

Official portrait of Jacqueline Fisher

A civilian employee at Wright-Patterson AFB since 1984, Jacqueline Fisher is ending her career on a high note. Fisher recently received the National Public Service Award (NPSA) for outstanding contributions to her community. At the end of July, Fisher will retire from her civilian career and focus completely on volunteer work.

The desire to serve is in her DNA. Fisher’s grandmother and father were regular and avid volunteers. Seeing them in action made volunteering part of everyday life.

“I think we all have a role to make the world a better place,” explains Fisher. “I think we should all be volunteering in some sort or fashion, whether it is about the earth, or if you care about kids or hungry people or care about animals. I think everyone could find a passion and a way to give back.”

Fisher currently serves as Deputy of the Sensors Program Office within the ISR/SOF directorate. She began her career as a GS-2 Clerk Typist and competed for new positions, steadily rising ranks as the years progressed. Not initially thinking about working at WPAFB as a career, Fisher says something eventually “switched” and she decided to get more serious about her roles. She also credits a mentor for encouraging her to finish her degree. It was at that time she moved into Program Management. Fisher has held many important positions, including serving as BRAC office director for the 88th ABW and Deputy of the Agile Combat Support directorate.

“Our Air Force gives wonderful careers, has wonderful benefits,” says Fisher. “I happened to change jobs every couple of years. I was very blessed I had an employer that I could have variety and change jobs and never leave ‘the big company.’”

Despite increasing responsibility and visibility in her career, Fisher has remained a committed and dedicated volunteer, always finding time to help in her community of Kettering, Ohio. Through her church, she runs a food pantry. There’s also a backpack program to provide kids nutrition during the weekends. Fisher is also a foster Mimi and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and guardian ad litem (GAL) for adolescent kids, recently welcoming a new teen into her home. Further proving her dedication to Kettering, she serves as an elected member to city council.

Looking toward retirement, Fisher is reflective and excited.

“Instead of getting paid to work for the Air Force, I will volunteer my time back to the kids who need a voice through the legal system,” she says.

There are many requirements to win the NPSA. Winners are judged on several criteria, including those who have:
 

  • Made a profound difference to improve service to the public
  • Been willing to take risks to achieve change
  • Fostered a more democratic society
  • Served as a champion of social equity
  • Changed the way a governmental organization operates so that it better achieves its goals
  • Achieved substantial savings in government operations
  • Developed a cadre of other government leaders
  • Contributed to the community in which they live

Col. Shawn Morgenstern, ISR Sensors Division Chief, prepared the nomination packet on behalf of Fisher. Five individuals provided recommendation letters including Kettering Mayor Donald Patterson and Montgomery County Volunteer Coordinator Mary Haines.

A short segment of Morgenstern’s recommendation follows:
 

In 2006, [Fisher] learned that 42 percent of Kettering’s students were receiving free or reduced cost breakfasts and/or lunches at school, and that for many of those children, that would be the only nutritionally sufficient meal they would consume each weekday, with no source of nutritionally sufficient meals on the weekends. She immediately leapt into action and founded Kettering Backpack, Inc. (KBI) to fight childhood hunger. As a pilot project, the initiative began with only 10 children, but using her superb organizational development skills, she rallied a diverse support network for the program to initiate and maintain its growth. Jacque served as the Executive Director from September 2006 to September 2013, providing organizational and fiscal stewardship as the program grew. She then created a stand-alone non-profit organization (501 (c)(3)) in lieu of relying on local education foundations for business support. Meanwhile she established a Board of Directors by carefully selecting individuals with the necessary skills, political insight and networking capabilities to ensure success. She leveraged their support to nurture and grow the program to its currently successful state in the community where it has served upwards of a 1000 children on a single weekend and as of 2021 has an annual budget exceeding $180,000! […] She also led a group of over 35 volunteers, during COVID, to ensure there was always enough food on the shelves every Friday to supply nutritious meals for the children to consume every weekend. […] As a result of Jacque’s efforts, school officials have reported attendance and grades have consistently improved.


Col. Charles Cain, AFLCMC vice commander, announced the June 2021 AFLCMC Award Winners via email. A serendipitous thing happened after that email went out: Fisher started hearing from former co-workers from many of her previous roles.

“I got a lot of sweet notes from people I haven’t seen in a long time. I will say that has been a blessing. What a way to end my career. You don’t do volunteer work for awards, but the timing is cool. I got a note from an engineer I worked with [when I was a GS-2]. He was a starting engineer as a GS-7 and I was a little GS-2 Clerk Typist and we played softball [together] on the base at the time. His note said he was so proud of me. That stirred up some great memories.”

Fisher's division will celebrate her retirement with a volleyball party.