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9 AF (AFCENT) Airmen lunch with leaders, build an inclusive environment for all

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jazmin Granger
  • U.S. Air Forces Central

The closest many junior enlisted Airmen will typically get to dining with a general officer and chief master sergeant is being in the dining hall at the same time. However, a group of 9th Air Force (Air Forces Central) Airmen enjoyed the opportunity to share fellowship with both in early October to share a few slices of pizza and their diverse perspectives in support of a command-level initiative.

When Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot took command of 9th Air Force (AFCENT) he released his five priorities, one of which was to “Embrace Equality.”

From this priority, the Equality Working Group, a diverse group of Airmen committed to creating positive change within 9th Air Force (AFCENT), was born. The mission behind EWG is to build and implement an operational approach to persistently promote a command-wide environment that is inclusive and equal for all AFCENT members, allowing them to rise to their highest potential.

One of the initiatives the EWG took on was to establish a time for the lowest-ranking members to meet with the highest-ranking members of the organization; thus, “Lunch with Leaders” was born.

On Oct. 7, Guillot and Chief Master Sgt. Jon Storms, 9th Air Force (AFCENT) command chief, spent over an hour with Airmen, discussing an array of topics related to diversity and inclusion. This prompted Airmen to open up about their experiences in their work spaces.

“I shared my perspective as an Airman in my office,” said Airman Nyomi Gwen a targeting analyst at the 51st Intelligence Squadron. “Although I’m the only female enlisted in my flight, I do have a voice, and I am respected when I use it.”

While some of the topics were deep and heavy, the Airmen walked away feeling heard.

“I thought it was great and very informative,” said Airman 1st Class Khalil Jones. “It was nice to have an open forum with the general and the chief.”

The EWG hosts events like this throughout the year to foster an inclusive environment.

“Events like this help spread positive information,” said Gwen. “The lunch was full of junior enlisted who eventually will all rank up. Because of this lunch, everyone there will think of equality and all of the good information that was shared and spread it so that as a whole we are all moving forward in being equal.”