Leaders encouraged to ‘inspire change’ at Black History Month events

  • Published
  • By Jaima Fogg
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Black History Month special observance committee organized several events throughout February to honor the triumphs and struggles of Black Americans throughout U.S. history while bringing awareness about the barriers to advancement in their community.

Focused on this year’s theme, “Inspiring Change,” a mentoring lunch and learn invited leaders and audience members from across the base to participate in an interactive panel. Topics discussed included the importance of mentoring, personal inspiration, success through adversity and career challenges.

“You can inspire employees by helping them through their adversity and by creating a working environment that allows them to be successful,” said Col. William Collins, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center senior materiel leader. “It’s not just teaching them the job. It’s about having their backs and considering their families as your family. I think that is one heck of a way to inspire.”

Panelists encouraged the audience to set themselves up for success by learning to shift focus and identify opportunities when they arise.

“Use the time when you are underutilized at your job to prepare for future opportunity by working on your education and career-enhancing certifications, and volunteer for special observance committees,” said Col. Nicole Ruff-Lehman, AFLCMC senior material leader. “Make the best of the situation.”

Using adversity as a tool to impact positive change--identifying gaps and considering how to fill them--was a common thread throughout the discussion.

“When you are met with adversity, question where you are planted and think about where you really need to be,” said Valerie Calhoun, AFLCMC supervisory program manager. “Look at pivoting; consider your physical and mental health. If you are not growing, you may need some change.”

The Wright-Patterson community is encouraged to seek opportunities to participate in special observance committees. Volunteering for a committee is a way to circulate the importance of diversity in the organization, build a network of trusted agents and learn more about the culture through the committee. 

“It is important that we share our stories and our perspectives and that we learn from each other,” Collins said. “That helps us to become a truly diverse workforce.”

A BHM wrap-up event will be held from 2-4 p.m. March 3 in the Wright-Patterson Club dining room. Attendees will be entered into a raffle for various prizes.