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Air Force and Army leaders attend Women Leadership Conference in Mexico

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Danny Rangel

U.S. military leaders recently participated in the second Women in Aerospace and Society Leadership Conference at Base Aérea No.1 de Santa Lucía, Mexico, September 22-24.

Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, most recently commanding general of U.S. Army North, and Maj. Gen. Susan Henderson, 377th Theater Sustainment Command commanding general, were invited to speak at the conference. The event was hosted by the Mexican Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) and was meant to provide a forum for women leaders in aerospace to share experiences and inspire future generations of women to pursue leadership opportunities.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to speak today, and I can’t say enough about the strides our countries have taken together in promoting women in the aerospace industry,” said Richardson. “It is our collective responsibility, both men and women, to mentor and inspire young women to succeed and pursue their dreams.”

The conference was held in conjunction with the Feria Aeroespacial México (FAMEX), or the Mexico Aerospace Fair, in Santa Lucía. The event featured nine guest speakers, including women leaders from across Mexico and the United States. First Air Force (Air Forces Northern), U.S. Northern Command’s Air Component Command, served as NORTHCOM’s operational and planning lead for U.S. support and participation in FAMEX.

Major Christy Wise, Air Officer Commanding, U.S. Air Force Academy, spoke during the conference and shared her story of being the first female Air Force leg amputee to return to flight. Wise, an HC-130J pilot, resumed flying duties almost a year after a boating accident led to an above-the-knee amputation and nearly 15 months of rehabilitation.

For Wise, it was the first time she has shared her story of resilience and empowerment to an international audience of women.

“My favorite part of this conference was meeting the female Mexican officers and being able to speak to a Mexican audience,” said Wise. “It was great to see the parallels between our experiences as a female officer. They have similar paths to their careers and it was great to talk to them and hear their stories.”  

Organizers of the event emphasized the importance of events like these as a way to spread a critical message to others.

“We have a group of empowered females from different countries who are willing to share their experiences and spread the message that professional development in any gender is possible,” said Catherine Lantigua, gender advisor, Office of Defense Coordination, U.S. Embassy Mexico City. “This is especially true for women going into career fields like aviation, to hear this very important message about women leaders directly from women leaders.