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News > Feature - Command chief focuses on professional development, morale
109th AW first female command chief
SCOTIA, N.Y. -- Chief Master Sgt. Amy Giaquinto, 109th Airlift Wing command chief, meets with a unit member on Sept. 10, 2013 at Startton Air National Guard Base. Giaquinto is the unit's first female command chief and only the second in the New York Air National Guard. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara/Released)
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Command chief focuses on professional development, morale

Posted 10/23/2013   Updated 10/23/2013 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
109th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/23/2013 - SCOTIA, N.Y. -- Chief Master Sgt. Amy Giaquinto said her drive, work ethic, willingness to step outside her comfort zone throughout her career, and the fact that she cares is what helped her achieve the top enlisted position at the 109th Airlift Wing. In June, Giaquinto became the Wing's first female command chief, and only the second in the New York Air National Guard.

Communication, wing cohesiveness, deliberate development of airmen, and morale are just a few things she said she's looking to focus on within the Wing.

"We're very mission-focused, which we should be, but we can't forget to be 'people-focused' at the same time," Giaquinto said. "We need to communicate with our airmen, and let them know that they are important and that we care."

She said her priorities right now mirror Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling, Air National Guard command chief, which is for airmen to renew their commitment to the Profession of Arms and Health of the Force, and recognize/embrace our accomplishments.

These three focus areas cover training, leadership, mentorship, the "little Brown Book", safety, resilience, recognition and realizing each one of us fits into the mission.

Giaquinto said she hopes to bring this back through leadership development courses. The courses will be open to technical sergeants up through senior master sergeants. The first course will be offered in January 2014.

Mentoring also plays a large part in helping develop well-rounded Airmen, but Giaquinto said everyone should not only be a mentor, but also be open to being mentored.

"That goes for all enlisted, up to the chiefs," she said. "I expect us to be the professionals that we are 'charged' to be, and I expect enlisted leadership to continuously provide airmen with the necessary tools to manage their careers. ... Allow airmen to take the initiative!"

Along with professional development, Giaquinto is working on programs to promote wing cohesiveness and at the same time boost morale. One way she hopes to accomplish this is through base-wide promotion recognition ceremonies for junior enlisted members.

"A few times throughout the year we're going to bring together all airmen who were promoted, from airman first class to technical sergeant," Giaquinto said. All units throughout the Wing will be included, bringing together all the groups and squadrons. "I want everyone to realize that their promotions are important. I heard someone who was being promoted to E-6 say that it was no big deal. ... I think that EVERY promotion is a big deal. It is important and a great way to recognize members in front of their peers.

"I'm excited about it," she said. "It can sometimes seem like there's a lot of separation among the groups, and I hope this is a way to bring people together."

Giaquinto stressed that everyone on the base has a voice, and she wants to hear ideas on changes airmen would like to see, what currently works around the base and what doesn't. There are several ways airmen can get their ideas and suggestions to base leadership.

One way is through enlisted calls. She will have her first one over the next couple of months for E-1s through E-6s and said it will be very informal. "I want people to feel comfortable talking to me," she said.

Giaquinto also has a survey posted on her SharePoint site called "What's on Your Mind," where airmen can anonymously express questions, comments and concerns. She wants everyone to know that she has an open door policy, and airmen can come directly to her with anything they feel comfortable talking about.

Giaquinto had advice for airmen and their careers.

"Airmen must be willing to adapt. Be willing to step outside your comfort zone," she said. "Retrain, deploy, and maybe even look for a tour down at (National Guard Bureau). Look for ways to be that well-rounded airman. Look outside your (Air Force specialty code) and take on those extra projects. It's hard to go into the unknown sometimes, but take the chance."

Giaquinto said she does everything she can to live by the Air Force core values, and said leading by example is imperative. "You can't expect people to live by the core values if their leaders aren't.

"The bottom line is that I believe in doing what's right, even if it's not the popular decision. If you're doing what's right, then how can you be faulted for that?"

Giaquinto enlisted into the New York Air National Guard in 1997 as an information manager with the 109th AW after a break in service. In 2009, she deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Before taking her position as command chief, Giaquinto served as the Personnel Superintendent at the New York State Joint Force Headquarters, NYANG in Latham, as well as the JFHQ Sexual Assault Response Coordinator-Air.

As the Wing command chief, Giaquinto is responsible for matters influencing the health, morale and welfare, professional development, training, readiness and proper utilization of the approximately 700 enlisted airmen assigned to the 109th AW.

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