ACC hosts first Athena Parthenon

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Taryn Onyon
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Athena leads from various major commands throughout the Air Force came together to discuss their organizations and collaborate on charters, workflows and lines of efforts during the first Athena Parthenon here, May 1. 

Athena programs—named after the Greek Goddess of war—aim to identify, assess and remedy women- and family-centric issues affecting Airmen’s readiness and ability to carry out the mission. 

ACC’s Sword Athena was the first to be established after retired Gen. Mike Holmes, former commander of ACC, charged Airmen with establishing a women’s symposium within the command in 2019. Using ACC’s Weapons and Tactics Conference model, Airmen created Sword Athena to bring critical requirements directly to decision makers for staff action. 

“I’m incredibly proud of the efforts put forth by everyone involved,” said Holmes. “The guiding genius of Sword Athena was women sitting in a room trying to figure out how to impact dinosaurs like me. I’m really glad to hear about the widespread adoption of the Sword Athena initiative across multiple commands and venues. Its commendable that individuals are coming together to share information and collaborate.”

Following the introduction of ACC’s Sword Athena, other MAJCOM Athenas formed, such as Reach Athena for Air Mobility Command, Dagger Athena for Air Force Special Operations Command, Torch Athena for Air Education and Training Command and ARC Athena for Air Reserve Command. 

While Sword Athena focuses on generating policy change that directly affects readiness, Reach Athena hosts a quarterly podcast highlighting female Airmen and family-centric stories, and Torch Athena will focus on empowerment through education. ARC Athena was established in 2023 to focus on issues that specifically affect female service members belonging to the Air National Guard and Reserve.

“Not all MAJCOMs have a fully fleshed-out Athena program, so the goal [Athena Parthenon] was to get different leads together to provide mentorship for the newer Athenas,” said Maj. Sharon Arana, ACC Sword Athena Lead. “We also wanted Ms. Kristine Billings, the Department of the Air Force manager, with us to talk through training and applications that we can use to help the Athenas perform barrier analysis.”

The DAF Women’s Initiative Team, established in 2008, is one of seven Barrier Analysis Working Groups, which has been driving much of the recent positive change, including updated hair standards for women, normalizing support for nursing mothers in the workplace, improved in-flight bladder relief devices for women flyers, and many more. 

“The Athena model has been incredibly successful, and we need to work together to ensure it is scalable and enduring,” said Arana. “We are looking to continually professionalize the Athena model across all MAJCOMs and talking through the differences between our organizations will help future Athenas.”