Past and future firsts

  • Published
  • By Andrea Contratto
  • Air Combat Command

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va -- For trivia aficionados and history buffs, what is the significance of Aug. 26?

While you think about your answer, allow me to introduce myself. I’ve been honored to serve as the Air Combat Command chief diversity and inclusion officer since February and what an exciting learning experience the past six months has been!

This is my first assignment with the U.S. Air Force, and I’m still learning the nuances of its structure, culture and language – the acronyms in particular! However, I’m not a stranger to the military or acronyms. I proudly served in the U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve for 30 years.

After my uniformed service, I worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce, and directly before ACC, I worked for the U.S. Navy in Norfolk. In each assignment, I focused on enhancing the experiences of the workforce, and through that, the organization.

In my career, I’ve grown with training, education and experiences that I hope to leverage to benefit ACC and ultimately, the Air Force. In this position, I will listen and collaborate across the enterprise to remove or mitigate roadblocks to inclusivity and equity that inhibit mission accomplishment.

My service to the country, military and civilian, has been enabled by a multitude of courageous women who preceded me. Three such pioneers are memorialized in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were the founders of the suffrage movement (HINT.) A statue in Central Park partners Sojourner Truth with Anthony and Stanton, highlighting the significant role women of color played in the suffrage movement.

The benefits of the efforts of these pioneers for equity are visible today throughout the Air Force, with women serving in every occupation and leadership role. While there are still “firsts” to be realized, the momentum set in place by our precursors will make those next “firsts” a reality.

Answer: August 26, 1920, marks the passage of the 19th Amendment, granting women of America the right to vote. Fifty one years later, Representative Bella Abzug presented the U.S. Congress with a bill to designate the day as “Women’s Equality Day” to commemorate this date and the decades of work by tens of thousands across the country. In 1973, Congress passed the bill into law.