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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | March 4, 2024

Igniting empowerment with Women's History Month fireside chat

By Senior Airman Bridgitte Taylor 316th Wing Public Affairs |

In observance of Women’s History Month, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Gwendolyn Defilippi facilitated a fireside chat focused on opportunities for growth and empowerment during a leadership symposium Friday at the Gen. Jacob E. Smart Conference Center. 

The event, themed “Celebrating Women Who Have Made Great Achievements,” honored the role of women in the Department of Defense and welcomed members from across installation and community to take part in the discussion of women’s achievements, progression, and empowerment. 

U.S. Air Force Col. Todd E. Randolph, 316th Wing and installation commander, welcomed Defilippi and shared his perspective on women’s policy progression in the work force.  

“The importance of women in the in the workforce cannot be overstated. Women bring unique perspectives, skills, and strength that are essential,” Randolph said. “Their representation at all levels of the workforce drive economic growth, enhance organization performance, and contribute to a more equitable and just society.” 

Defilippi, experienced in presenting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives, led the event’s discussion, speaking on the future of DEIA initiatives as well as gender-specific goals and achievements leading up to this year. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kaitlin Burns, 89th Aerial Port Squadron member, facilitated the conversation with Defilippi, asking questions about DEIA’s evolution, leadership qualities, and personal experiences.  

“How have you seen diversity, equity, and inclusion, evolve throughout your career?,” Burns asked. 

“You know, we’re in a place now where there is maternity [leave] for civil servants, which is a remarkable accomplishment,” Defilippi said. “We encourage parental leave, and I have to believe that the parents today are splitting time so that they are participating actively. I would always be the one to take off work to spend time with my kids... A year ago, I would write it off as private appointments...Today, I’ll write down ‘doctor's appointment’ or ‘basketball game.’ There are other interests in your life, and I really think that is important. It makes us a better organization.” 

Building on the conversation about work-life balance and organizational improvement, Defilippi emphasized the significance of personal values in professional growth and the broader mission of inclusivity within the Air Force. 

“The last thing I would say is that we all have unique values and things that make us important,” Defilippi said. “Thinking about how you spend your time and making sure your values are aligned are really important.”