Celebrating remarkable women leaders of the Utah Air National Guard

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jaycee Baker
  • 151 ARW

In celebration of Women’s History month, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council hosted former Utah Air National Guard leaders U.S. Air Force Colonel (retired) Kristin Streukens, Colonel (retired) Julie Anderson, and Chief Master Sgt. (retired) Denise Rager. The keynote speakers shared their advice with more than 50 attendees at a high tea event held on March 5, at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, Utah.

According to historic UK, The British tradition of high tea originated in the 1800s, where the working class got together after work to share tea, snacks, and a social discussion. The term "high tea" has been derived from the fact that the meal was taken on a high table and that it was a more substantial meal that was served to the upper classes. Today, high tea has evolved to become a popular way to celebrate special occasions or to enjoy a luxurious afternoon with friends or family.

Celebrating the lives of three remarkable leaders who paved the way for women in the UTANG was a fitting way to kick off Women's History Month. Service members in attendance spoke about leadership, challenges, finding a balance between family and work, the ongoing efforts and the dedicated service of female airmen all while enjoying cakes and tea.

Each guest speaker was chosen due to their key leadership positions in the UTANG. Streukens was the first female who served as the 151st Air Refueling Operations Group Commander. Anderson was the first female Vice Wing Commander of the 151 ARW and Rager was the first female State Command Chief Master Sgt. of the UTANG.

During the high tea event, members asked the senior leaders a range of questions from how to be an effective leader to maintaining a good work-life balance. Streukens, Anderson, and Rager shared their knowledge and experiences from their combined 78 years of service.

The event not only provided attendees with valuable insights into leadership but also celebrated the achievements of the three keynote speakers, who paved the way for women in the Utah National Guard.
“Ensure you are celebrating what strengths people bring to the table, but also address what their weaknesses are and let them build their confidence while challenging them with stuff they aren’t good at.” said Streukens, “Don’t be afraid to fail.”

As the first females to hold key leadership positions in the UTANG, these women offered unique perspectives on navigating a male-dominated field and breaking down barriers. As high tea progressed, UTANG members engaged in a fruitful dialogue with the keynote senior leadership speakers, seeking advice on how to navigate their own career paths. Anderson emphasized the importance of stepping out of one's comfort zone to foster growth.

“Get outside your comfort zone because that’s going to make you grow. Even though you might hate it, it’s going to be the best for you,” said Anderson.

This was a valuable opportunity to learn from the diverse career journeys of these accomplished leaders and gain insights into how to overcome obstacles and achieve success.

“In goal setting, you need to understand your why. Why is it important? Why are you passionate about it?” said Rager, “Write down your why and let that drive you.”

Their emphasis on embracing strengths, challenging weaknesses, understanding your why, getting out of your comfort zone, along with their advice to not be afraid to fail, serves as valuable guidance for any aspiring leader.

Despite facing numerous challenges throughout their careers, Streukens, Anderson, and Rager proved to be resilient, compassionate, and effective leaders within the UTANG.