ACC Women lead from Within

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jaylen Y. Molden
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

This International Women’s Day, Air Combat Command is focusing on programs that continue to enhance readiness and quality of life for women in the Air Force.

In 2020, ACC announced the establishment of SWORD ATHENA, a women- and family-centric initiative that targets barriers to readiness.  

ACC volunteers successfully developed solutions to address several Air Force-wide barriers. This initiative has influenced other Air Force major commands and inspired Airmen to create base-level programs like the Joint Base Langley-Eustis Breaking Barriers Alliance.

“The Breaking Barriers Alliance cultivates diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility through facilitated discussions and trainings,” said Senior Airman Kristal Powell, communications co-chair of the JBLE Breaking Barriers Alliance. “We are privileged to follow in the footsteps of those who have done astonishing work in the advancement of women.” 

From bladder relief devices and female fitment equipment to Airmen targeted professional development panels, SWORD ATHENA and base-level programs, have prioritized eliminating gender, race, and accessibility-based hindrances.

“SWORD ATHENA gives an empowered voice to women and families to ensure policies are reflecting their needs,” said Maj. Sharon Arana, ACC SWORD ATHENA lead. “It is a tangible example of how our leadership at ACC understand that these are not just women's issues, but Airmen issues. Everyone is affected when the readiness needs of an entire population of our forces are not being met.”

The Breaking Barriers Alliance and SWORD ATHENA are just two examples of women leading from within the force. 

“We stand on the shoulders of giants," said Arana.  “SWORD ATHENA is also about networking and leveraging our strengths. It's such a humbling honor to be a part of this incredible community.”

Every year, Airmen Air Force wide work to move the force forward as they facilitate space for necessary discussions and collaborate to present lines of effort to MAJCOM and DOD leaders.

“We are working to professionalize this organization so that we are driven just as much by processes as we are by personalities,” Arana said. “As an all-volunteer group, it takes dedication and commitment to continue tearing down barriers. Our model has proven itself to be repeatable. Now, we need to ensure these processes are normalized and scalable.”