First in-person Enlisted Symposium since the pandemic

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Matlock
  • Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command

Air Force Reserve Command hosted its first in-person Enlisted Symposium since the pandemic, held July 11-12, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

The symposium was open to all enlisted members and was comprised of a variety of guest speakers and informational sessions for Airmen to be inspired, learn, and grow from the presenters and each other.

The ceremony opened by recognizing the 2022 AFRC Airmen of the Year, First Sergeant of the Year, and First Sergeant Council of the Year award winners. These Airmen are among the Command’s top performers. See the list of award winners here.

Senior Master Sgt. Sean Chessman, a manager in the Inspector General Directorate at Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, volunteered to be part of the planning committee and was on-site for the symposium. He said that it was a much-needed face-to-face event for Airmen and leaders to come together.

“Our team recognized that after two straight years of doing this virtually, we owed the participants a meaningful and relevant experience they would remember,” Said Chessman while discussing this year’s them as “Building Tomorrow’s Leaders Today: Compete, Deter, Win!” 

For the more than 230 enlisted Citizen Airmen in attendance, the focus was not only on development, but also on readiness as an operational imperative with power competition between the US., China, and Russia he noted.

“I feel we accomplished this with our amazing guest speakers which covered an array of topics ranging from Emotional Intelligence to Air Force Force Generation or AFFORGEN led by the AFRC Force Generation Center,” Chessman said.

The two-day symposium hosted a wide range of speakers including the previous Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Kaleth O. Wright who gave a keynote address on “singing off tune.” Wright took the audience back to his 2019 op-ed “Who am I?” and encouraged Airman to stand up for what is right and fair, even if it seems hard or impossible. Wright’s inspirational words were followed by the famous “selfie” photo line that almost every Reserve Airmen had to get.  Other highlighted speakers were CMSgt. (ret) Todd Simmons, who spoke on resiliency and finding one’s purpose in work and life, CMSgt Sam Caballero the IMA to the Chief, Professional Development Center, who spoke on emotional intelligence, and Dr. Allison Agwu, who spoke on health and nutrition. The symposium closed out with the inspiring life story of, Major Alea Nadeem, who currently serves as a Policy Advisor on the National Security Council at the White House. Maj Nadeem, spoke of her childhood living in Iraq under Sadaam rule when her father kidnapped her during a summer family vacation to Iraq and shared how her experience led her to join the Air Force Reserve and her personal resilience encouraged her advocacy work as a key founder of the Women’s Initiative Team.

Other topics of discussion focused on leadership, current affairs, resiliency, diversity and inclusion, and mentorship. Senior Airman Viktoria Senkiv, a Ukrainian immigrant and security force defender assigned to the 910th Airlift Wing, in Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, spoke highly of how the event provided an in-depth look into the command and higher headquarters.

“I feel like lower ranking Airmen should attend conferences like this,” Senkiv said. “For me as a Senior Airman, I am seeing first-hand how things like the budget are being handled, and what other issues we are having across the Command, and how our leadership at higher levels are working those issues.”

Senkiv also noted that getting to network with other Airmen, especially her security forces peers, helped her better understand some of the issues that she has been facing at her home station.  

According to Air Force Reserve Command Chief Master Sgt. Timothy A. White Jr., the symposium was created to provide all Airmen tools to add to their toolkit with all levels of the enlisted ranks in mind.

“The team that put this symposium together–they delivered. Take what you learned here, and give it back,” said White. “No matter what rank you are, you learned something today. Let’s take that home and build a better command.”

Immediately following the ceremony Lt. Gen. Richard W. Scobee, Chief of the Air Force Reserve, was inducted into the Air Force Reserve Order of the Sword in a formal ceremony. For photos and the full story, click here.