TDIV&E Hosts “Having the Difficult Conversations” Event

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt Lakisha A. Croley, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The Tyndall Diversity and Inclusion Council, newly named the Tyndall Diversity, Inclusion, Vulnerability and Equity Council, hosted the “Having the Difficult Conversations” virtual event with retired Col. Jon Rhone as the guest speaker, Aug. 13, 2021.

Fifty-three members of Team Tyndall and civic leaders from the local community joined the council in an hour long discussion on why difficult conversations surrounding racial disparity, gender bias and other ongoing inequality issues are so important.

Rhone spoke to his concerns about why Air Force leader’s roles are imperative to these conversations.

“As leaders, we are at war for the hearts, minds and attention of those we serve,” Rhone said. “We are operating at a trust deficit. The best way to build trust is to grow a meaningful connection. In order to start that connection, people must feel valued. We feel the most valued when we can enter a ‘brave space’ and feel like the views we have are understood.”

Dedicating his time to this event was key to Rhone’s desire to help develop leaders and empower Airman to use their voices in these difficult conversations.

“I am passionate about sharing leadership and cultural change lessons.” Rhone went onto say, “Both of those endeavors are hard and require us to make meaningful connections in order to gain the trust required to lead people and culture change at a high level.”

Karen White, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center staff attorney, sees diversity and inclusion as a gateway for communication, education and a chance to be empowered by recognizing differences.

“Diversity is the ways that we are different from each other, and Inclusion is how we welcome people to ‘the table,’” said White. “It is how we interact in a way that allows everyone the opportunity to fully participate in what we’re doing in our organizations.”

With the whole community on and off the installation joining their voices together, this event provided a great opportunity for participants to discuss how they can be a part of the solution.

Master Sgt. Grecille Newton, 325th Communications Squadron chief of network operations, and the Chair for TDIV&E felt the event opened the doors to diversified communication off and on the installation..

“This event and future events like it will help educate people about TDIV&E by presenting the real-life topics the organization is interested in tackling,” Newton said. ”There are no boundaries with TDIV&E; the need doesn’t pause for a pandemic, it doesn’t slow down because of politics and it doesn’t stop for the mission. What we do with TDIV&E in this moment will change the level of necessity for it in the future.”

As TDIV&E seeks to bring awareness to the members of Team Tyndall, the hope is that the doors to more honest conversations are opened.

“Find someone who thinks differently than you do,” Rhone shared as his final thought. “Truly ask and argue to learn. Be curiously compassionate and find out how each of the differences can come together to positively impact the organization and area.”