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Celebration of the Workforce features accomplished female military, civilian leaders

  • Published
  • By Allyson B. Crawford, AFLCMC Public Affairs

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Commander Lt. Gen Shaun Morris and Executive Director Kathy Watern hosted the first AFLCMC Celebrating the Workforce event on August 17, 2021.

The virtual event featured a mix of taped and live speakers focusing on the theme “Women Achieving Acquisition Excellence.”

Over 600 individuals watched the presentation live. An on-demand version of the event is available on the AFLCMC website.

During her keynote addresses, AFLCMC Engineering Director Jackie Janning-Lask explained her approach to mentorship. She also explained ways to develop a personal credo, to lead change and how to dream big but set realistic goals.

In each of the main pillars of her talk, Janning-Lask walked participants step-by-step through the process she takes when faced with major decisions involving her career. Her most pressing reminder is to make the most of our careers by creating a plan for where we want to go next and adapt as our priorities change with age.

Presenting live from her home in Florida, Natalie Johnson, of ViDL Soultions, spoke with enthusiasm on work-life balance and wellness in the workplace. For Johnson, success at work starts with effective self-care. Proper diet, exercise and enough sleep are key components to success at work. So are identifying core values. Johnson argues that working in alignment with these values means staying in a positive emotional energy quadrant. Stress and burnout are progress killers and can derail careers. By explaining ways to refocus and prioritize, Johnson provided easy, real-world solutions for everyone navigating the modern workplace, no matter their rank or position.

Air Force Col. Nicole Ruff-Lehman gave a personal, live keynote address explaining her background. Delving deep into her family history, Ruff-Lehman spoke about her grandparents and parents and their Air Force careers. Through a lens of watching her parents serve and being used to moving frequently around the world for their careers, it was not a big jump for her to join the Air Force after college as well.

Through her experience, Ruff-Lehman explains how to recruit and retain stronger and more diverse talent, arguing the need for the military to visit less represented communities earlier than high school. She recalled a talk she once gave at an elementary school. Many of the students noted they had never seen anyone in a military uniform before that day.

For Ruff-Lehman, bringing more diversity and inclusion into the military is personal and not just because she is a black woman. Rather, she feels it is important to tap this talent market to beat American adversaries. Diverse backgrounds often lead to different opinions and new ideas. It is these new ideas Ruff-Lehman argues will better support the modern Warfighter.

In addition to the keynote speakers, taped spotlights profiled four high performing women from around the Center.  

“Generations in the Workforce” is the theme for the next Celebrating the Workforce event.