DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. – "If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader," said Dolly Parton, country music artist and entertainer.
"Your vibe attracts your tribe" is the way Chief Master Sgt. Bernadette Hollinger, command chief of the 187th Fighter Wing, puts it. And since assuming her role on the Red Tail's leadership team, that saying has anchored her service to the wing.
One of her focus areas as command chief is to have a positive influence on the unit and its members.
"Positive people attract other positive people, or get positive results," she said. "Unfortunately, the same can be said about negative people."
The former operations group superintendent is making strides to create a more diverse force, and while her selection as command chief is a standalone achievement, it reflects those efforts.
"It is hard to overlook the fact that my selection as the 187th Fighter Wing's eighth command chief created a moment in history for this unit," Hollinger said. "I am the first woman to serve in this position. As an African American, I look forward to continuing to contribute to the unit's efforts preserving the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen and the Red Tails."
As the wing harnesses the diversity of its Airmen, it leans on its heritage in the Tuskegee Airmen. The wing's 100th Fighter Squadron descended from the 100th Fighter Squadron of the "Redtails," the Tuskegee Airmen who distinguished themselves with their bravery and heroism during World War II. The tails of some of the 100FS F-16 aircraft are painted red today to remember and pay tribute to that heritage.
"The Tuskegee Airmen dispelled the biases, negativity and racist ideology about blacks during a tumultuous time in America's history," Hollinger said. "They proved the naysayers wrong. Today, these stigmas motivate me to be successful and assist in how I lead. I try to enable others, and allow them to see no matter your race or gender success is achievable. As a result, this motivates me to be a better leader and person."
The senior enlisted leader created a more inclusive professional environment by encouraging leadership to develop a diverse committee in support of the wing's priorities of culture, collaboration and communication.
In an effort to improve the culture, Hollinger implemented a program that allows junior enlisted members to observe boards in preparation for what is potentially ahead in their career.
"I have tried to make the commanders aware of where their people are as far as development in regards to professional military education," said the Air Command and Staff College graduate through Air University.
Hollinger has helped the commanders to see where each enlisted member in their unit may be falling behind in professional development. While completing her tenure on the wing's senior leadership team, she has focused on developing the future enlisted force.
During 2020, the chief plans to implement a professional development day led by the human resource adviser that will weave the Top Three and the Rising Six private enlisted development groups together in small sessions within squadrons.