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AFMC hosts Women’s Leadership Symposium

  • Published
  • By Michele Donaldson
  • Air Force Materiel Command

The Air Force Materiel Command hosted their Women’s Leadership Symposium February 28 and March 1. More than 350 Airmen took part in the hybrid event, which featured senior leaders from the command, as well as from Air Staff and industry.

Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, AFMC Commander, welcomed the attendees and explained how the symposium would touch on the Lines of Effort connected to the 2023 AFMC Strategic Plan and how important the LOEs are to the day-to-day mission and every Airman.

“We recently added the word ‘integrated’ to our vision statement and I’m happy to see that all six centers are participating today,” said Richardson. “There’s a double meaning to integrate—it’s not just delivering, but how we do and how we work together.”

Keynote speakers for each of the LOEs included Darlene Costello, Principal Deputy Assistant of the Air Force Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; Vice Admiral (ret.) Tom Copeman; Ellen Chang, Ventures Vice President and head of H4X Labs; and Gabbe Kearney, GE Aviation. Each speaker geared their talk to how every Airman can make a difference to the Air Force mission.

“We can’t have a rigid vision of what’s to come,” said Costello. “Using flexibility and agility, find a way to make it work.”

One of the highlights of the event was the live Women’s History Month Cross-Cultural Mentoring panel held in support of the command’s commitment to “Mentoring in a Globally Diverse Workforce.”

The panel was comprised of a mix of civilian leaders from across the enterprise, including AFMC Cross-Cultural Champions Heidi Bullock, Director of Contracting, HQ AFMC; and Dr. Shery Welsh, Director, Air Force Office of Scientific Research; in addition to Col. Marqus Randall, Commander, National Space Intelligence Center; Segrid Harris, Air Force Research Laboratory, Munitions Directorate; and Chief Master Sgt. Jennifer Nalls, Chief Enlisted Manager, Air Force Installation Contacting Center, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.

Panelists provided helpful insight while answering a myriad of questions. They focused on mentoring advice they’ve received throughout their careers and how it helped them to achieve—even when they didn’t take the advice. They also urged participants to mentor others.

“I look at people I admire—they are not always the highest-ranking people, and they don’t always look like me,” said Randall. “Reach out to those you admire and be open to others coming to you.”

“Some mentors last a lifetime, and some are just a moment in conversation,” said Nalls.

“Mentoring is all about connections,” said Welsh, “It’s not just about women, but all of us. You are not out there alone.”

Key to the event’s success were well-received breakout sessions where participants could talk in smaller groups about work and life resiliency, and concerns or barriers they’ve encountered. They received immediate feedback and support from the moderators and other group members, and gained contact information to build new connections. Work/life balance versus work/life harmony was discussed.

“You can do anything,” said Kearney, “But you don’t have to do everything. Take care of yourself too.”

A recording of the virtual mentoring session is available at:

Additional information on mentoring and future panel events is available on the mentoring feature page of the AFMC website at: