DVIDS – News – Commander Naval Air Force hosts first-ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit

Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific (CNAF) hosted the first-ever Naval Aviation Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DCI) Summit from November 1-2, 2021 in Coronado, California.

The theme of the first CNAF DEI summit was Empowering Future Naval Chiefs with a Mindset of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The purpose of the summit was to identify and address the challenges faced by Naval Airmen of diverse backgrounds and experiences, and to provide leadership development opportunities. The summit aimed to achieve four main objectives:

1) Identify and resolve diversity, equity and inclusion issues affecting Naval Airmen.
2) Give voice to naval aviators from various backgrounds.
3) Educate leaders to increase their awareness of DCI issues and apply this perspective in the workplace.
4) Promote mentoring for Airmen from diverse backgrounds.

Approximately 275 naval aviators and guests attended the event. The first day included a presentation titled “Up We Go! Which conveyed a message of inspiration and resilience from retired Captain Donnie Cochran, the first pilot and commander of the African American Blue Angels, and was underscored by a personal message from Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday.

“Just being here is a declaration of your commitment to cultural change and a more inclusive future,” said Gilday. “What you do here matters, and I appreciate it. “

The second day consisted of several breakout sessions and a town hall style question and answer session with Vice Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, Commander Naval Air Force.

Whitesell spoke to attendees about the importance of creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture in naval aviation and gave his mandate to tangible conclusions from the summit. “If something happens that goes against our core values, it’s a flaw in our armor,” he said. “I’m looking for takeaways today – actions I can take that will turn into results for a better environment for all who serve… The leadership of the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is fully committed to eliminating barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion and to lasting cultural change that maximizes lethality and combats.

The summit was a powerful tool for naval aviators to voice their concerns and come up with solutions for immediate action. A long list of over 15 follow-up actions was led by senior flag officers, including: implementing increased efforts for command leadership “listening sessions”; identify career path options that support promotion and family
construction goals; assess gaps in women’s health care; and put more emphasis on DCI in training and leadership development streams.

Other speakers at the CNAF DEI summit included former Deputy Secretary of the Navy BJ “Buddy” Penn; Vice admiral. John Nowell, Jr., chief of naval personnel; Rear Adm. John Meier, Commanding Officer of Naval Air Force Atlantic; Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey, commander of Naval Personnel Command; Rear Adm. Shoshanna Chatfield, president of the Naval War College; Rear Adm. Stephen Barnett, commander of the Navy’s southwest region; and Dr. Charles Barber, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Workforce and Reserve Affairs.

Captain Alex Hampton, future deputy commander, Carrier Air Wing 7, also spoke at the summit and explained why focusing on IED is essential to improving the Navy.

“Naval aviation is a great organization to work for,” said Hampton. “But to improve, we have to understand our people. Diversity, equity and inclusion, in large part, allow us to better understand the people we are privileged to lead.

CNAF further recognized the importance of empowering and giving voice to the future prospects of naval aviation by appointing a DCI summit team of ten junior naval aviators to act as advisers in planning and execution of the summit. This unique opportunity allowed senior management to have direct feedback on CNAF DEI initiatives.

Lt. Jess Hayter, who is assigned to the Navy Talent Acquisition Group Southwest and is a member of the DCI summit team, also spoke about the importance of the summit.

“This summit gives us the opportunity to give voice to people who are not represented at the table at the moment,” she said. “We try to bring to light issues that are not intentionally overlooked, but that are always overlooked, and we are working to find solutions. “

In conclusion, Whitesell instructed everyone present to act on the proposals discussed at the summit.

“The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you don’t make the bend. Today is a day of change, ”he said.

The CNAF DEI Summit was created in direct response to Admiral Gilday’s call to “identify and eliminate racial barriers, enhance inclusion efforts, create new professional development opportunities and remove barriers”.

For more information on CNAF DCI initiatives, visit

Date taken: 09/11/2021
Date posted: 11.09.2021 14:11
Story ID: 409024
Site: California, United States

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