HEADQUARTERS, FLEET READINESS CENTERS, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– As one of Commander Fleet Readiness Centers’ (COMFRC’s) priorities, creating a culture of success involves more than diversity policies and initiatives – it includes intentional, thoughtful investment in opportunities to cultivate respect, integrity, accountability, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility to ensure our success.

To achieve this, COMFRC invited Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR’s) Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility, Dr. Serelda Herbin to lead seminars at headquarters and sites across the country. In addition, the command conducted listening sessions and most recently held a diversity fair to inspire the workforce to get involved, have real and transparent conversations, and share diversity of thought, experiences and ideas to generate an inclusive environment.

The diversity fair brought together military and civilian employees and provided an opportunity to find out more about NAVAIR’s seven Diversity Action Teams (DATs). The FRC headquarters’ goal was to gain additional participation from command members to ensure adequate representation and advocacy for all members across the enterprise.   

Command Operations Group Head, Karen Adler, kicked off the event and reminded the workforce that becoming part of the solution is imperative. “I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zones to join DATs with which you may or may not identify. It’s a mindset that is inclusive of everyone regardless of ethnicity or background,” she said.

Fleet Support Team Executive and Chief Engineer, Rob Lessel, encouraged active engagement in the DATs and looks forward to assisting the Individuals with Disabilities Action Team as a champion. “Embracing where we need to improve and elevating barriers is one of the primary tenets of the Chief of Naval Operations Get Real Get Better initiative. What better way to initiate transparent conversations than inside of communities that navigate barriers every day. I am looking forward to many transformational and rewarding interactions,” he said.

Bringing our military and civilian workforce together through the command resiliency team and the DATs is key to becoming a cohesive force. Command Master Chief James Stedding emphasized the importance of these events to have open conversations and share common goals. “This command has the largest civilian presence I’ve been a part of in my 30 years of service. From 1993 until now the climate has changed dramatically for the better, and I welcome and encourage active participation in these events and look forward to many more,” he said. 

Julia Kohli, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’s inclusion and diversity program manager was on hand to elaborate on participation in the local DATs. “The teams meet once a month and only require about three to five hours of your time to make a huge impact. This event was a great success, and I’m sure it planted a seed that will generate some growth in DAT membership and conversations surrounding the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. I look forward to continuing to work with the command at future events,” she said.

Chief Edward Schafer, a FRC Headquarters’ command diversity team member, shared his thoughts on being involved in the effort. “Bringing the civilian and military workforce together provides a better understanding of barriers and helps us to communicate things we see from both sides related to diversity, equity and inclusion. It is definitely a win-win and will be beneficial for us here and at our next assignment,” he said.

As a member of both the African American Pipeline and Hispanic Engagement Action Teams, Darryl Edmonds, command operations administrative support team supervisor led the effort to coordinate the fair and bring the command’s headquarters personnel together to share stories and encourage participation. “This is the first of many events we have planned including a panel discussion and guest speaker coming up in January. I am excited about all of the strides we are making and the future engagements to come,” he said.

Being a new participant in the Individuals with Disabilities Action Team, Jessica Schneider, a member of command operation’s administrative support staff, described her short time with the team as inspirational. “It’s amazing to hear stories of how individuals with disabilities overcome barriers and adversity to effectively do their jobs. I’m excited to get involved and bring others along,” she said.

NAVAIR DATs support efforts to build high-performing and creative teams where all employees are valued, respected and given an equal opportunity to succeed.

DATs promote continuous improvement at each NAVAIR location to remove barriers to equal opportunity within the organization. DATs support NAVAIR civilian employees with special programs and provide an open forum for employees to share ideas that can boost employee experience, satisfaction, and innovation.

Currently, NAVAIR has the following DATs:

  • African American Pipelines Action Team (APAT)
  • American Indian and Alaskan Native Action Team (AIAN)
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander Action Team (AAPI)
  • Hispanic Engagement Action Team (HEAT)
  • Individuals with Disabilities Action Team (IWDAT)
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Plus Allies Action Team (LGBTQ+A)
  • Women’s Initiative Network (WIN)

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