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Military Women Leading the Way: Senior leaders mentor through open forum

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ashley Perdue
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The grand slam 5/6 group held a women’s panel, “Military Women Leading the Way,” July 8, 2020 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

The event was an open forum for base personnel to present questions or topics of interest to the panel of female senior leaders.

“The idea came to fruition when Staff Sgt. Cramer and I were in isolation together,” said Tech. Sgt. Princess Okai, the Grand Slam 5/6 president. “While there, you can’t do much but think so she came up to me and said ‘I was thinking… I want to do something.’”

According to Okai, after the two began bouncing ideas off of each other, they concluded having a panel of military women in an open forum was the way to go.

“When you share your story, you never know how the audience will receive it, but for me, it was very encouraging to look out at the audience and see a diverse crowd,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Karen Blair, 379th Expeditionary Operations Group command chief. “The fact that both men and women came out to listen to a women’s panel gives me hope that our stories will resonate with the audience and our voices can make a difference.”

Panel members included Blair, U.S. Air Force Capt. Sarah Sampas, Senior Master Sgt. Shantell Nelson, U.S. Army Capt. Clarice Andrews and guest speaker, Sgt. 1st Class Janina B. Simmons, the first African-American female to graduate Army Ranger School.

“For future generations, I hope they take these events to see anything is possible and when things get tough there are people willing to help them on their own path to success,” added Blair.

Tough discussions are happening all across the world and according to Blair, it’s important to listen to the stories from Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in order to band together as a team and help each other through difficulties no matter what they are.