Ark-La-Tex Air Force officer who helped encourage inclusion receives major award

Implementing ideas and concepts that help foster inclusion are not easy, but one local officer has had success in this area that has been recognized with a significant award.

This year the Air Force Diversity and Inclusion Recognition Program honored one of Air Force Global Strike Command’s very own, Maj. Kristine Poblete, a legislative liaison with the Air Force Global Strike Commander’s Action Group.

The Air Force Diversity and Inclusion Recognition Program acknowledge one individual military or civilian team, or organization which significantly contributed to or developed an innovative idea, concept, or approach that helped to create a diverse and inclusive environment. This year, Poblete was recognized for leading AFGSC’s 2018 Women’s Leadership Symposium, a professional development, and mentorship event attended by 200 military and civilian Airmen.

Poblete is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she earned a Doctorate of Education in organizational change and leadership and wrote a dissertation on the perceptions of diversity and inclusion affecting the deprivation of minority women in military leadership, which was published and certified by the Library of Congress.

“Kristine represents the best of our Airmen and their relentless pursuit of excellence, both on and off duty,” said Lt. Col. Megan Kinne, former director of the AFGSC CAG. “She earned her doctorate on her own time and has since put that degree to use by leading the planning and execution of the second AFGSC Women’s Leadership Symposium to promote a Striker Culture that values dignity, respect, diversity, and inclusion.”

Poblete’s experiences often being the only minority in her working environment encouraged her to learn more about diversity and inclusion.

The knowledge she gained through school and life influenced her to learn more about how people of different backgrounds are affected and controlled, and how diversity can make a person feel uncomfortable, unassured, and reluctant to stand out.

“Diversity and inclusion to me is a force multiplier,” Poblete said. “It is innovative for teams to thrive off diverse thoughts and diverse backgrounds. You can’t have that unless you’re first inclusive.”

Poblete’s involvement and success with AFGSC’s 2018 Women’s Leadership Symposium, helped lead to the establishment of the inaugural women’s leadership conferences at Air Force Materiel Command and Air Force Special Operations. In 2019, she was the keynote speaker for International Women’s Day at the Multicultural Center of the South, the only organization of its kind in the state of Louisiana.

“The true measure of Major Poblete’s character is in her passion for advocating this one truth...it’s not the differences among individual Airmen that matter, but rather what makes us all Airmen – free thinking, bold, and irrepressible with a shared, rich heritage and unique view of the world,” said Gen. Timothy Ray, AFGSC commander.

Poblete feels that leadership paves the way to openness and acceptance among fellow Airmen.

“To me, diversity starts with inclusive leadership,” she said. “Being an inclusive leader means understanding that everyone has something to contribute in a different way and making the effort to understand and to acknowledge how people are motivated. With that, you can really harness those unique strengths to leverage the common mission and the common objective.”

Through her studies and lectures about diversity and inclusion, Poblete has worked hard to spread the knowledge she has learned through education and personal experiences to help create an atmosphere of fairness, awareness, and amenity throughout the Air Force.

“What I really want to hit home about diversity and inclusion is that we all have, as it relates to the mission, a responsibility as leaders to create the right culture for the people who we work with, the people who we lead, and for the future generations to come,” Poblete said. “If we seek to be the innovative force that can fight the wars of the future, we have to continue to elicit these new innovative ideas from diverse thoughts. This all starts with being inclusive and creating a culture that allows for diverse thought to occur on a regular basis.”

Story by Antoinette Smith; Photo by Mike Meares.