AFRL hosts Diversity Speaker Series to foster innovation, collaboration Published Oct. 21, 2021 By Rachel Simones Air Force Research Laboratory WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – The Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate hosted the Diversity Speaker Series throughout 2021 to provide employees with unique perspectives and learning opportunities through virtual events. This series enhances internal collaboration and provides AFRL employees with the opportunity to learn from leaders with diverse backgrounds and experiences. “This speaker series is an alternative training opportunity that serves as a catalyst for continuing difficult and purposeful conversations,” said Dr. Marcus J. Smith, the Diversity and Inclusion Lead with the Aerospace Systems Directorate. “It gives us the opportunity to bring in a diverse group of distinguished authors, professors and professionals to engage with our local and national Air Force community.” Dr. Richard Fingers, the AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate Associate Director, added, “These speaker series engagements provide outstanding opportunities to better understand and appreciate various perspectives and backgrounds that may differ from our own, and also help us to embrace diversity, inclusivity, creativity and innovation as hallmarks of our culture.” Guest speakers included professors, authors, practitioners, Air Force leaders and senior executives. “These regular engagements with the speakers and with one another help us to nurture our desire to foster a fun-loving and respectful environment where we take the initiative, rise to challenges together, and celebrate success as a team,” said Fingers. Approximately 250 to 1,000 AFRL employees have tuned in bi-monthly to the Diversity Speaker Series. The events are open to all of AFRL and invitations are also typically extended to the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) and Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) personnel. “This series has served as a great collaboration point between AFRL and AFIT, with the hopes to expand the collaboration to include the entire Air Force Materiel Command,” said Smith. The Diversity Speaker Series serves as an engaging tool to foster open lines of communication between AFRL employees. This training opportunity allows employees to develop dynamic teams focused on creating innovative technology for the operational warfighter. “Diversity of thought enables our multidisciplinary teams to provide the most innovative solutions helping to ensure our war fighters always have a decisive advantage,” said Fingers.