AF Diversity Award: Airman paves path to culture of diversity, inclusion

  • Published
  • By Robert Brooks
  • 432nd Wing and 432nd Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

“It is time for every one of us to strive for understanding and a culture of inclusiveness and belonging across our Air Force,” said Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force in a letter titled “Unrest in America.”

“I don’t have the answers,” he continues. “But I do know there is no room for bigotry, hatred or small mindedness in our force. Period. Every member of our team needs to know we have their back.”

One Creech first sergeant strove for the understanding and inclusiveness Goldfein mentions in his address to the Air Force.

Through her passion for understanding, Master Sgt. Elizabeth, first sergeant for the 432nd Operations Support Squadron, was awarded the annual Air Force Diversity and Inclusion Recognition Program Award, which recognized her efforts to establish a Council dedicated to celebrating the diverse Airmen who make up Creech Air Force Base, and the Air Force.

Elizabeth was instrumental to activating the installation’s first Diversity Council. She led the team Airmen, who through Department of Defense-recognized observances, engaged the wing in an ongoing dialogue, with dinners, events, and more.

Despite her leadership, Elizabeth attributes the council’s success to the hard work and dedication the Airmen put into each meeting and event.

“From the Airman who planned these incredible events, to the mentorship from my peers and leadership, this was truly a team effort,” she said. 

During the first council meeting, the doors opened and the room filled to capacity, forcing them to open the partition to make the room larger. 

“‘This was the beginning of something special,’” Elizabeth had noted. 

Each council meeting featured different guest speakers, who shared their experiences and discussed with attendees what diversity meant to them. 

As she listened to each person’s story, she gained a new perspective of how this council would support the needs of the Creech community.

“People are proud to celebrate their culture,” Elizabeth said. “Beyond educating each other, the Airmen wanted to celebrate their heritage and history with the community.” 

Elizabeth and the Diversity Council Airmen planned seven wing-level events throughout the year. 

Some of the council’s larger successes included, an Asian Pacific Islander Heritage event, which hosted family food and cultural dancing, a standing-room-only Pride celebration, and a Holocaust Remembrance luncheon with a 92-year-old survivor who discussed resiliency.

According to Elizabeth, Airmen can be apprehensive about joining the diversity council and some may feel like they don’t qualify.

She expressed how each person has something unique about them, either a skill, talent, strength or ability, no matter their background. Their reasoning? Everyone matters and everyone has a story to share. 

“No one has shown more appreciation for diversity in a positive way, than Elizabeth,” said Lt. Col. Ryan, 432d Operations Support Squadron commander.  “Her outgoing, engaging personality, and role as a mentor has given guidance to this organization and its current and future success.”

Elizabeth, and the team of Airmen alongside her, worked to bridge the gap between diversity and inclusion, and was recognized for the efforts.

However, as the council now stands as a platform of unity amid differences, the team will continue to converse, educate and celebrate the heritage of Team 432’s Airmen, making a closer military family, here, at Creech AFB, and hopefully a better United States Air Force.