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Minority Symposium starts career progression dialog

Swanton, Ohio -- A diverse group of Airmen from the 180th Fighter Wing gathered in the Operations Auditorium for the wing's first minority symposium during January drill. The title of the event was the Power to Create Your Own Destiny.

"In 2011, Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, the adjutant general for the Ohio National Guard, started an initiative for inclusion that was centered on the idea that regardless of race, religion or gender that everyone would be able to achieve whatever goals they would want to accomplish and to be effective for this mission," said Capt. Tiffany Pasker, the director of personnel at 180th FW and the organizer of the minority symposium.

Pasker added that the 180th FW leadership reviews statistics for promotion rates, professional military education awards and career progression. The statistics revealed to them that minority groups lag behind in these areas.

The minority symposium represented the wing leadership's support for an inclusive environment and their desire for all Stingers to be able to contribute to the success of the wing's mission.

Col. Steve Nordhaus, the 180th FW commander, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Tracy Troxel, the 180th command chief, made remarks at the start of the event that highlighted their desire for ideas on ways to improve the work environment and promoted their support.

Later, the command chief master sergeant of the OHANG, Chief Master Sgt. Tamara Phillips and Col. Florencio Marquinez, the commander of the 180th Medical Group, spoke to the group about key moments in their military careers that help them achieve some their goals.

"It was interesting to hear the point of views of the speakers," said Senior Airman Tyran Boyd, from the 180th Civil Engineering Squadron. "I could relate to the information that was delivered by the speakers."

Also Senior Airman Nasheka Maddan, from the 180th Headquarters, said that one of the biggest takeaways she got from the speakers was the importance of a positive attitude.

"It was great to have support all the way up to the state command chief and that she was able to come down to give her perspective about being in leadership," said Pasker. "It meant a lot to me that these speakers shared their support and time for this event."

At the end of the symposium, there was an open forum where the speakers and attendees shared reactions about the event. They tackled questions like, how should senior NCOs use their experience to mentor and engage junior servicemembers?

"The symposium was a good starting block," said Boyd. "I took away that if we apply the core values then everyone can apply themselves for the job and do it in the most professional way."

Pasker said the dialog that was started during the event was great. Furthermore, several of the Airmen stayed well past the duty day to continue their discussions.

Boyd added that the symposium had a positive impact on him, but he felt there was much more to discuss.

Pasker said that the group at the symposium can serve as a tool to help the wing leadership generate ideas on ways to address issues that impact minorities.

"We are trying to make the 180th FW the best ANG base which is Col. Nordhaus' vision," said Pasker.

"Looking toward the future, we want more participation from minorities here," said Pasker. "Also, we are looking for more leaders across the state to participate in future events that are focused on minorities."
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