AFMC hosts National Disability Employment Awareness Month mentoring event

  • Published
  • By Kayla Prather
  • Air Force Materiel Command

The Air Force Materiel Command hosted a special National Disability Employment Awareness Month cross cultural mentoring event, Oct. 17, with the goal to inspire and motivate individuals to seek diverse mentoring relationships as they grow in their careers. 

This event featured panel members from the Disability Action Team, Major Command Barrier Analysis Working Group, including Brig. Gen. John Andrus, Commander, 711th Human Performance Wing, Air Force Research Laboratory; , David Frank,  Associate General Counsel for Civilian Personnel Policy; Michelle West, Contracting Lead, DAF Business Innovative Research/Small Business Technology Transfer, AFWERX; and Courtney Morah, Contracting Officer, DAF Small Business Innovative Research/Small Business Technology Transfer, AFWERX.

These panelists discussed how to frame mentoring conversations differently for an employee with a disability, the resources Airmen have if they have a disability, how Airmen can communicate their disability to a supervisor, advice for mentors and mentees, and other topics.

“We talk about disability, but as I look across the workforce here at the 711th, I do not see a single individual that has every ability,” said Andrus. “The question is not how do we focus on the disability; it’s how do we bring out the abilities that are there that are not being leveraged.”

During the session, panelists highlighted how people with disabilities should take advantage of mentoring opportunities just as much as everyone else. They emphasized how Airmen should not let a disability discourage them from mentoring and how to make sure they get the most out of it, because no one should be treated any differently because of a disability.

A key point from the panel is for supervisors to take time to ensure an incoming team member with a disability transitions as seamlessly as possible.

“Reach out early to determine if there are any barriers to the on-boarding process,” said West. “Determine if there are any requested accommodations and answer any questions they may have about the work environment and welcome them to your team.”

The panelists provided helpful insight while answering a myriad of questions regarding spreading awareness, helping Airmen with disabilities grow, and helping potential mentors understand how to best guide and teach.

“These are important discussions to remove barriers and improve opportunities for our talented employees in the Air Force,” said West.

The recorded event can be viewed at:

Additional information on mentoring and future panel events is available on the mentoring feature page of the AFMC website at:

The next AFMC Cross Cultural Mentoring Panel is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 12 p.m. ET and will focus on Native American Heritage Month. Additional details will be posted to the AFMC Mentoring site.