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104FW Airmen attend symposium, develop as leaders

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sara Kolinski
  • 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Five exceptional Barnestormers, hand-selected by wing leadership, attended the 2021 Air Force Sergeants Association Professional Education and Development Symposium July 24-28, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.

The AFSA PEDS is an annual conference which serves as a platform for Air and Space Force enlisted members to share ideas, learn, make their voices heard, and develop their professional network.

This year, the attendees from the 104th Fighter Wing included: Chief Master Sgt. Laurice Souron, 104th Force Support Squadron senior enlisted leader; Senior Master Sgt. Jason Ballou, 104th FW weapons safety manager; Master Sgt. Jennifer Hartwig, 104th FW self-assessment program manager; Tech. Sgt. Jaymie White, 104th FW law office manager; and Staff Sgt. Sara Kolinski, 104th FW public affairs specialist.

Throughout the conference, these Barnestormers attended workshops and forums with panels comprised of senior enlisted leaders from the Air and Space Force, including past and present command chief master sergeants and the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman.

“I loved hearing the various perspectives from around the Air and Space Force,” said Souron. “That, and spending time and collaborating with our 104th FW Airmen was very valuable.”

For White and Kolinski, this was the first time they had the opportunity to take part in this type of symposium.

“I have never attended an Air Force conference before and was ecstatic that my first one would be for something that I am so passionate about, especially knowing I would hear, learn and engage with the top set of mentors for the enlisted corps,” said White.

Many conversations at the AFSA PEDS followed a theme of ‘accelerate change or lose’ the action orders released by the Air Force Chief of Staff encouraging change to propel the Air Force and Space Force missions.

“My favorite years in the Air Force were the last few where we began to shift and shy away from traditionalism and adapt to our ever-changing environments with open minds and compassion for our people,” said White. “Attending a symposium where our top leaders of the Department of Defense are not allowing this initiative to fall to the wayside and continuously educating our Airmen and Guardians was my favorite thing to be a part of.”

The 104th FW attendees brought back many key messages and talking points covered at the symposium and are excited to see how these changes, talked about with their senior enlisted leaders, can be implemented at Barnes.

“The group’s attendance to the conference will have a significant positive change to the 104th FW,” said White. “Not only did the group take away vital key points to the development of our Airmen, but the specific individuals who went are so eager to apply these changes to our Barnes community. I am positive all of us will continuously accelerate change.”