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Diversity Council charter endorsed by senior leaders

SALT LAKE CITY -- After months of collaboration, the Utah National Guard Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan was recently approved by Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, The Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard, and Brig. Gen. Kenneth Gammon, Director of the Joint Staff, who serve as Joint Diversity Executive Council Committee Chair and Vice Chair, respectively.

The comprehensive document outlines goals and objectives designed to develop and sustain a diverse workforce within Air and Army Guard components across the state.

"Diversity and inclusion are much more than buzz words; this strategic plan impacts everyone who serves in the Utah National Guard," said Burton. "Leaders, commanders, managers, and members of each organization can help leverage individual differences to maximize mission effectiveness, readiness and productivity."

The Joint Diversity Executive Council working group, led by Lt. Col. Andrea Van Leeuwen, and comprised of more than a dozen members of different ranks and specialties, will meet quarterly to facilitate the process of identifying, defining, and addressing diversity issues that affect the readiness of the Utah National Guard

"The committee will help to establish an organizational culture where diversity and inclusion are valued as force multipliers," said Van Leeuwen. "Everyone has an important story to tell and a unique background that lends something to the fight."

The strategic plan highlights four distinct overarching goals, each with specific, associated objectives. These include: enhancing diversity and inclusion in the UTNG; ensuring leaders at all levels champion diversity initiatives; developing internal and external diversity partnerships; and mentoring UTNG members to retain talent reflective of local communities.

Van Leeuwen noted that inclusion is more than just a top TAG priority.

"This topic couldn't be more relevant to our daily operating environment," she said. "Who we are and what we each bring to the fight is much bigger than any single demographic designation. Efforts to safeguard our unique approaches and capabilities deserve our time and attention."