As Women’s History Month draws to a close, Kirtland Air Force Base hosted a luncheon to hear from senior leaders, who shared what the observance month means to them as well as leadership advice.
The luncheon featured Col. Brenda Cartier, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Melissa Erb, 377th Security Forces Group chief enlisted manager, as guest speakers.
“Women’s history to me means acknowledging the women who took on those tough tasks before us,” Erb said. “They showed us the way. They gave us the courage to step out in front and face those fears and not be afraid to do what we want to do, based on what society has limited us to do.”
Many women throughout Air Force history have broken down barriers in their way, from Grace Peterson becoming the first female chief master sergeant to Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt becoming the first female fighter pilot to Gen. Lori J. Robinson becoming the first female commander of a U.S. Combatant Command.
Cartier and Erb referenced legislation that helped clear paths for them in their careers. Both spoke about women who paved the way and personal experiences that helped them in their careers.
“Events like today benefit us in a million ways,” Cartier said. “I really like the direction the Air Force is going with diversity and recognizing that every person who wants to serve in the military brings with them a background, a history, a story, and a reason for coming into the military. The more we can celebrate diversity and the accomplishments of all the different groups that represent the U.S., the better.”
Each of the speakers looked toward the future, offering advice to young women in the service.
"Get out in front. Become the absolute best in your job early in your career. Competence is key,” Cartier said. “Get yourself opportunities to lead and to evolve, not just in your AFSC but also in the greater Air Force. If you’re a flyer, go find out what your maintainers do and what your support staff does. Always look to learn a little bit more every time you show up for work.”
Erb said no goal is unachievable.
“It’s possible if you put your mind to it and it’s something you want to do,” she said. “You’re only limited by your own fears.”