AFOSI agents host inaugural AF women officers' forum leadership retreat

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jenn Womble
  • AFOSI Public Affairs

Thirty women Air Force officers from across the country and a variety of career fields gathered in West Virginia for a retreat which helped refine leadership skills, encouraged deep introspection, sharing, and practicing with tools outlined in an actionable playbook Sept. 12-15, 2019. 

The retreat was the product of planning by Air Force Office of Special Investigations leaders, Col. Tara Lunardi and Lt. Col. Melody Mitchell (currently serving outside AFOSI). Lunardi and Mitchell realized the value that personal interaction with other female leaders throughout the Air Force would have. They solicited the help of fellow AFOSI member, Lt. Col. Bridget Graham and Judge Advocate Maj. Sarah Edmundson, to make this vision a reality. 

(The result was), “Hands down one of the most rewarding events in my life,” said Lunardi. “As we search for ways to help build a resilient force, it is important for leaders to look for opportunities like this to build relationships, and establish a network of trusted peers and mentors.” 

Lunardi then addressed the challenges military leaders encounter as they strive for perfection in their careers and how the training transformed her thinking.

“Many of us in the military are Type-A personalities, striving to be perfect and fearing failure.  We're taught our entire careers that vulnerability is a weakness,” she said. “I now understand it actually takes a tremendous amount of courage, trust and strength to realize we don't need to ‘armor up.’ We cannot do everything alone. It's okay to ask others for help.”

The retreat conversations focused on tough subjects like leadership and resiliency, and the women built relationships, encouraged and strengthened each other. With officers from multiple commands, skill sets and ranks, the diversity of thought and experience brought palpable depth to the discussions and experience. 

AFOSI’s Maj. Raquel La Barr, said the training equipped her to be a better leader and a better person.

“I’ll use the lessons learned from this course not only at the office but also at home,” she said. “I learned so much from the other participants, about their unique leadership experiences from different levels of command and specialties.”

While the retreat lasted just a few days, the participants will have the life and leadership tools they gained for a lifetime. The connections they made will be a resource as they navigate future leadership challenges.