United States Air Force Academy

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General Charles Q. Brown, Jr.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force

Speaker Bio

General John W. “Jay” Raymond, USAF

Chief of Space Operations, United States Space Force

Speaker Bio

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Joanne S. Bass

Speaker Bio

Marillyn Hewson

Executive Chairman of Lockheed Martin; one of TIME Magazine’s  “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and twice listed as #1 on FORTUNE Magazine’s list of “50 Most Powerful Women in Business”

Speaker Bio

General Stanley McChrystal, USA, Retired

Former commander of U.S. and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan and former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who led the nation’s deployed military counterterrorism efforts around the globe

Speaker Bio

Things That Matter

Join General McChrystal as he captivates the audience and leads them to reflect and focus on the things that truly matter and how Warrior Ethos plays a role in more than just operational situations.

Colonel Lee Van Arsdale, USA, Retired

Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient with 25 years of leadership in Army Special Forces spanning three combat zones and numerous classified operations

Speaker Bio

Warrior Ethos Through the Eyes of a Commander on the Ground during Task Force Ranger (Black Hawk Down) 

Lee will focus on one aspect of the Army Warrior Ethos: “I will never leave a fallen comrade”. He will use his experience as a member of Task Force Ranger in Somalia in 1993 as a vehicle to highlight this aspect of being a warrior. It was TF Ranger’s actions that resulted in the book and movie ‘Black Hawk Down’. Audiences will come away understanding that part of our own Warrior Ethos must include prioritizing the greater good of the team and mission.

Jannell MacAulay, PhD, Lt Col, USAF, Retired

Leadership & human performance expert & combat pilot veteran

Speaker Bio

The Warrior’s Edge 

As an elite operator, squadron commander, military spouse, and mother of two, Dr Jannell MacAulay struggled to accelerate her professional success without sacrificing her health and relationships along the way. After studying high-performing individuals who push the boundaries on human potential in alpha-competitive environments, she learned they all invest in one thing: Training their mind to be their best. Realizing there was a psychological performance gap within the military and other high-stress occupations, she collaborated with Coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks and high-performance sports psychologist, Dr Michael Gervais, to create Warrior’s Edge elite mindset training. The program teaches performance-enhancing psychological skills as a proactive approach to mental health and well-being for individuals who operate in environments of consequence. In this session, Dr MacAulay will introduce you to the skills behind Warrior’s Edge to help you unlock your inner warrior and learn to train your mind and command your thoughts under stress.

Nick Scott

Professional wheelchair bodybuilder and professional wheelchair ballroom dancer; two-time World Powerlifting Champion

Speaker Bio

Never Give Up 

Nick Scott shares his personal story with audiences so they understand he started with a dim glimmer of hope. What it really means to Never Give Up, the mindset, the motivation and to do whatever it takes to get the job done. As a professional bodybuilder, wheelchair ballroom dancer, entertainer and motivational speaker, Nick Scott approaches everything he does with enthusiasm and conviction. His vision is to use his life experiences and abilities to inspire others and give them hope. There are no excuses for quitting.

Lt Col Jessica Ruttenber, USAF

Advocate for removing barriers to employment, accessions, advancement, and retention of women both in the military and civilian sectors

Speaker Bio

David versus Goliath: Overcoming hidden barriers in gender diversity     

Despite her “vertical challenges,” Jessica shares how she overcame the odds to become a USAF pilot and how she spent most of her career as an advocate to remove unnecessary barriers which keep women and minorities out of aviation. Her writing and work on the Women’s Initiative Team prompted the DoD to design its first-ever maternity flight suit and changed the way the Air Force designs aircraft for Human Systems Integration. Jessica discusses how legacy policies and systematic engineering disqualifies 74% of black females and 72% of Hispanic females from becoming pilots and why that is a problem for national security.

Dr. Regina Lewis

Expert on topics such as cultural competence, diversity and inclusion, cross-cultural leveraging, and interpersonal communication

Speaker Bio

Raising a Prince on Food Stamps

During this riveting inspirational talk, you will learn how Dr. Regina Lewis went from poverty to Ph.D. by making a pact with her son Charles. Dr. Lewis will  reignite your purpose and illuminate the pathway to your goals as she shares how she raised her son through insurmountable odds by demonstrating discipline, dedication, and determination.

Marcus Luttrell

Decorated Navy Seal and best-selling author of “Lone Survivor”, the harrowing story of his experience during Operation Redwing

Speaker Bio

A Tribute to Courage, Honor and Patriotism

In an unparalleled and inspiring program, Marcus Luttrell takes us from the rigors of SEAL training and what it takes to join the America’s elite fighting force, to the battle on the mountain, into his family’s experience of community support and generosity, and back to his own incredible story of survival and grace. He weaves a rich account of courage and sacrifice, honor and patriotism, community and destiny that audiences will find both wrenching and life-affirming. In his emotionally raw account, Marcus Luttrell honors the memories of all those who died, sharing with us the incredible bravery, courage, and honor of these extraordinary warriors. He holds their lives up as examples of this guiding philosophy of the SEALs:

“I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.”

Major Christy Wise, USAF

First female amputee in the US Air Force to return to flying duty

Speaker Bio

Learning to Live with One Leg Up on Life

On April 11, 2015 Major Christy Wise came within about 30 seconds of bleeding out in the water after she was struck by a hit and run boat propeller in Florida while she was paddle boarding. In a discussion about the resiliency journey she never really wanted, Christy will teach you how to make a tourniquet (hey, it may save your life someday), how she overcame losing her right leg above the knee and fought to stay in the Air Force and return to the cockpit.

Samantha Weeks, PhD, Colonel, USAF, Retired

Women’s aviation pioneer as first female pilot in her F-15C squadron and the first female solo pilot on the USAF Aerial Demonstration Squadron (Thunderbirds)

Speaker Bio

Throw your Hat in the Ring 

Samantha will share stories from her 23-year Air Force career to empower the audience to live boldly, believe in themselves, and tackle challenges head-on. From her entrance to the fighter community as the first female pilot in her F-15C squadron, to the Air Force Thunderbirds, and the triumphs and troubles of command she will encourage people to go for their dreams and never take no as the first answer. She’ll highlight how life will lead you to a brick wall, but determination and drive can help you persevere. She’ll tackle unconscious bias as part of the bricks and mortar that build those walls

DJ Skelton

Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs; author of “Our Hero Handbook”, a comprehensive guide to assist wounded service members and their families during recovery and rehabilitation

Speaker Bio

Base Jumping, Body Piercing, and the Battle of Fallujah 

DJ will take you on a journey of his unorthodox life, and how he discovered discipline, resilience and post-traumatic growth. He will take you on a rollercoaster from a small town in South Dakota, to the battlefields of Fallujah, Iraq and Panjwayi, Afghanistan, and through the halls of the Pentagon. He will intimately share his story of enlisting to commissioning, fighting one of the fiercest battles in Iraq, to surviving addiction and suicide, returning to command on the battlefield, and becoming one of the most influential advocates for veterans and post-traumatic growth.

Dr. Katherine Sharp Landdeck

Historian and author with over two decades of work devoted to the Women Airforce Service Pilots

Speaker Bio

The First Warriors in Blue: The Women Airforce Service Pilots 

Dr. Landdeck will talk about the legendary Women Airforce Service Pilots and their inspirational and ground-breaking work in World War II. These women flew every aircraft the USAAF had and proved that women could, as General H.H. Arnold declared, “fly wingtip-to-wingtip with their brothers.” The WASP displayed the true warrior ethos as they fought for the chance to serve their nation and, with help from their allies, pushed from being limited in light, trainer aircraft because of their gender into pursuit aircraft like the P-51 and P-38, and bombers like the B-17 and B-29.

Shannon Huffman Polson

One of the first U.S. Army Women Apache Helicopter Captains and Pilots, Author of North of Hope and The Grit Factor: Courage, Resilience and Leadership in the most Male Dominated Industry in the World

Speaker Bio

Leading From Any Seat: Stories from the Cockpit & Lessons from the Grit Project

Tenacity, determination, grit and an innate ability to lead has defined Shannon Huffman Polson. An adventurous young woman, she summited Mount McKinley (now Denali) and, at the time, was the youngest woman to complete the attempt. From there, she was commissioned in the Army and was one of the first women to fly the Apache attack helicopter. Through her leadership and aviation skills she earned the right to lead two flight platoons and was the first woman to command an Apache flight company in the 2nd Infantry Division. With real-world stories and insights from in and out of the cockpit, she offers tangible leadership lessons for audience members to seek out their own targets and, where passion and purpose intersect, incorporate them into their own professional lives. By examining everyday leadership and situational challenges, Shannon empowers others to effectively lead and thrive in any dynamic environment.

John Troxell, SEAC (Ret)

Former Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with five combat tours to include Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Shield/Storm, two tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan

Speaker Bio

Preparing Yourself for the Worst Day of Your Life

The discussion will include the need to ready ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, technically and tactically to be prepared for the conditions that arise during “the worst day of our lives”. He will discuss his personal story in combat and his worst day July 19.2007. Additionally, SEAC (Ret) Troxell will further talk about the need to be a champion and not a victim during adverse times, and finally how leaders must lead by example and provide purpose, motivation, direction and inspiration to overcome adversity. He will also talk about his “Surrender or Die by entrenching tool” call out that he did to ISIS a couple of years ago that went viral, to bring some levity and humor.

DeDe Halfhill, USAF, Col (Ret)

Former Senior National Defense Fellow and former Asst for Public Affairs to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; featured in Brene Brown’s best-selling book Dare to Lead

Speaker Bio

Leaders Connect: a real conversation about why we struggle and what gets in our way

In the context of the loneliness that many are feeling in a global pandemic, rising suicide rates and increasing concerns over toxic leadership, the time has come for a candid discussion about the skills leaders need to possess to address such challenges. At the core of each of these challenges is connection. If we’re to have any chance at reversing the trends, then it’s time for an honest conversation about what is getting in our way as leaders from building authentic, meaningful connecting with our teams. The shift rests in language. The language we use as leaders can have a powerful and positive impact. Use the right words and we are able to authentically connect, build trust and empower others in a meaningful way. Use the wrong words and the result is often disconnection, isolation and destruction of the trust we’ve spent so much time and energy to build despite our best intentions otherwise. It’s time to get smart on what drives disconnection and more importantly get skilled on how to fuel sincere, genuine connection.

Col DeDe Halfhill, USAF Retired, was featured in Brené Brown’s book ‘Dare to Lead’ and on 60 Minutes for her candid approach to leadership. Join her for a though- provoking conversation about how the words we choose and the empathy we convey not only saves lives, but deepens trust, increases resilience and inspires courage in the organizations we lead. You will leave this presentation with new skills to grow as a trusted leader, connect on purpose and engage with humanity in the workplace.

CMSgt Thomas Case, USAF

Earned Silver Star twice for gallantry and valor in combat

Speaker Bio

MSgt Deondra Parks, USAF

Hate-crime survivor who was profiled on Adolph Hitler’s birthday because she is African American; diagnosed with PTSD, she strives to bring awareness to help inspire others

Speaker Bio

Healing Through Awareness

MSgt Deondra Parks, who survived mortar attacks in Iraq, became a victim of a hate crime. She owes her very survival to rational thinking and a resilient spirit, but even those enviable traits did not save her from harm. She was shot, while studying in an entertainment store’s cafe, in Texas. A survivor of an active shooting event, she talks about forgiveness, seeking support, dealing with PTSD, and moving on with grace

Stacy Allison

First American woman to summit Mount Everest; embodies grit, resiliency, determination, and intestinal fortitude with a never-quit attitude

Speaker Bio

Undaunted in Daunting Times; Lessons from Everest

Mt. Everest is one of the most unforgiving environments on Earth and decisions don’t get much starker. That’s why mountains, an ever present and inspirational backdrop to the Academy, are a rich source of insights for Cadets and Officers alike. More than just symbols of upward strivings, mountains are high-altitude crucibles for leadership, vision, team dynamics, risk-taking, and mental perseverance. Even though you may not experience arctic temperatures, hurricane force winds, or seemingly bottomless crevasses, you do face an increasingly demanding, dynamic and sophisticated academic, athletic, military, and leadership training regimen. Your success is like climbing a mountain. Just like an expedition, you must forge an inspiring vision, build an accomplished team, overcome obstacles and stay focused, to consistently be your best and stay on top.

Stacy combines her business acumen and her spirit for adventure to show her audiences how to thrive in their endeavors through courage, leadership, vision, teamwork, risk taking, and personal accountability. Stacy’s high content, personalized presentation will encourage and inspire you to take a visionary look at opportunities and move beyond your limits.

Freshta Tori Jan

Survivor of the poverty, terrorism, and different forms of injustice directly related to her family belonging to religious and ethnic minorities in her home country; after immigrating to the U.S. to pursue education, started Sew True Foundation to help homeless and has become an advocate for those who are not able to share their stories

Speaker Bio

Beyond the Mountains: A Journey of Perseverance

Tori Jan will provide a brief description about common misconceptions about Afghanistan. She will then share her personal experiences growing up in Afghanistan regarding the kidnappings and daily murder attempts her family faced and her friends being murdered and shot. She will speak about her school being shut down by the Taliban and her educational journey afterwards. Her presentation will cover events that shaped her into developing a resilient mindset and fierce motivation as well as how she has been able to persevere despite being a religious, ethnic, and gender minority in her country.

Col Michelle “Mo” Barrett, USAF, Retired

Self-proclaimed “successful failure” at the Air Force Academy; persevered after becoming the first member of her pilot training class to receive a grade of “Unsatisfactory,”  going on to deploy with a small team to bare bases in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, converting them from austere fields to airlift hubs

Speaker Bio

The Internal Combustion Engine of Decision and Action

Mo parallels the chambers of an internal combustion engine to iterative decision-making and action-taking with closer inspection of the contributions we give and receive and how it affects others.

Regardless of how mundane or significant a decision might be, we can leverage the model to ensure we seek a variety of inputs, use the stages of experience to develop a course of action and use any feedback as a new input. And if you’re not an engineer or rocket surgeon, don’t fret, it won’t be as boring as it might sound.

Ryan Holiday

Best-selling author and media strategist

Speaker Bio

The Obstacle is the Way

Through lessons learned from history’s greats, understand how embracing the impediments between you and your goal can become your path to success.

12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year

Click here to read about the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, 2020

Warrior Ethos Across All Ranks as Demonstrated by our Top-Performing Enlisted Airmen

Hear from the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year as they discuss how Warrior Ethos plays a role in their careers and daily mission.