By Capt. Gretchen De Blaey & Capt. Joshua Benedetti
AFIT, Education with Industry fellows
Five Amazon Fellows, the Amazon Military Fellowship Program Manager, and Education With Industry Program Managers attended the Air Force Association Air Space and Cyberspace conference in Washington D.C. September 16-18. Left to Right: Ms. Kathy Royse, Capt. Josh Benedetti, Ms. Sarah Martin, TSgt Cody Wisley, Capt. Gretchen De Blaey, Capt. Jeff Livingston, TSgt Taylor Sage, Capt. Katie Hansen (Courtesy Photo).
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Air Force Education with Industry fellows assigned to Amazon in Seattle joined the company’s fellowship program manager at the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyberspace conference in Washington D.C. September 16-18.
Each year the Air Force Association holds two conferences with an array of leadership talks, industry partners, and specific subject matter break-outs. The stated purpose is to ensure Airmen, at all levels, stay mission-focused and persistently aligned with the national defense strategy.
Billed as the Air Force’s premier professional development conference, AFA capitalized on its force-wide draw and proximity to the Pentagon to deliver keynote speeches from the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. David Goldfein, the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Kaleth O. Wright, and the Secretary of Defense, Dr. Mark Esper.
Each speaker underscored the shifting geopolitical climate, while emphasizing why the Air Force must be prepared to fight and win across all domains if it is to maintain its dominance in the years to come. An immense challenge to be sure, and one that each Airman, to include the Fellows, was implored to both internalize and act upon.
“It was a great opportunity to hear what Senior Leaders are doing in our Air Force and what their vision for the future was. On day two, I got to listen to the CSAF Gen Goldfein speak about multi-domain operations,” said EWI fellow Cody Wisley. “This helps put things into a bigger picture and understand that we all have a piece to play in the grand scheme of things.”
Fellows even had the opportunity to speak directly to key leaders across a wide range of Air Force functions, including the newly formed HAF A2/6. EWI fellow Taylor Sage recalls, “I was able to sit in and listen to information warfare airmen across multiple disciplines and ranks participate in an open discussion with the incoming A2/6, providing incredible insight towards my learning goals. Immensely valuable opportunity.”
Along with the opportunity to listen to senior leaders, the fellows enjoyed the ample networking opportunities with other Airmen and industry partners.
“The conference was more than just an opportunity to come together and hear about the new and innovative ideas the Air Force is implementing, it was also a great opportunity to connect and network with fellow Airmen,” shared EWI fellow Jeff Livingston. “Meeting my old Wing Commander who I haven’t seen in five years and my old neighbor from my first duty assignment and hearing about their Air Force experiences was a highlight. They say the Air Force is small and the AFA conference proved that point.”
Amazon Fellow TSgt Cody Wisley and Amazon Military Fellowship Program Manager Sarah Martin share in a photo with the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Kaleth O. Wright (Courtesy Photo).