JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
As we conclude this year's Women's History Month, the leadership at the 316th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron share their thoughts and perspectives as Air Force military and civilian members, as well as their unique positions in an all-women-of-color leadership team.
Col. Stefanie Watkins Nance, 316th OMRS commander: “'Ma’am, may I take a picture with you?' were the words that came out of my second lieutenant mouth as I ran up to the first female African American colonel I had ever seen. She obliged, and even though I don’t even remember her name, I still have that picture. Representation matters! The coined phrase 'If you can see it, you can be it' resonated in my ears louder than even the day I pinned on colonel a little over a year ago. I am currently the only African American female commander at the group and wing levels which is not unfamiliar to me, since I have often been the only one in the room. Become comfortable with being the only one in the room! Unapologetically take your seat at the table and know that you deserve to sit in it! And most of all…don’t be silent. People are watching and are inspired by you, may even ask you to take a picture, so that one day they can follow in your footsteps."
Senior Master Sgt. Anitra Crosby, 316th OMRS senior enlisted leader: "I am honored to have this opportunity to serve on such a dynamic and unique team. Growing up in a small city in Georgia, very seldom did I see a woman of color in a key leadership position. The majority of my Air Force career, it wasn’t common to have a female commander, let alone, an all-female leadership team. This is a true testament that the Air Force is making strides to leverage the military’s greatest power…diversity. Diversity is our superpower and with it we can change the world."
Master Sgt. Capri Vasquez: "I absolutely love working with these women. In the past, we were so used to men being in leadership positions but to be on an all-female command team makes me proud of how far the military has come. It speaks volumes to our young Airmen, and most importantly, my daughters."
Tech. Sgt. Mia Gutierrez: "I take it as an honor and a privilege to be part of an all-female leadership team. I stand shoulder to shoulder with three of the strongest, most inspirational women I have ever met. During a diversity event, one of our Airmen came up to me and told me that I inspired her, and I was shocked. When I asked her why, she said it was because we were the same. We were two Filipina women, and I was in a position of leadership, standing by the commander daily. 'You made it ma’am. From where we come from to here.' For the first time, I saw it through her eyes. I saw the significance of having an Asian female in leadership for her and the impact I was making on the lives of those we work for. I don’t take this opportunity for granted and I strive make our Air Force a more diverse and inclusive culture."
Charmaine Meekins, 316th OMRS commander's secretary: "As the Secretary to the 316 OMRS/CC, this is the first time in history that I have worked with a team of all women. It has been quite an experience and a very memorable time for me. Each of us comes from different backgrounds which makes it more interesting. We have laughed together, cried together, and worked diligently together as a team. Our team is so energetic that it is contagious to the whole squadron. We all focus on the reason we are here, 'Taking care of our people who take care of the Mission.' OMRS is the main focal point for Readiness, in making sure our Airmen are ready to deploy. With Colonel Watkins Nance as our Commander and SMSgt Crosby as our Senior Enlisted Leader, we have done just that. It has been my pleasure to work with 4 of the most Beautiful, Outspoken, tenacious women in the history of working at the 316th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron."