Empowering Airmen to become leaders

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melissa Harvey
  • 301st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
She was born at former Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, where her father was stationed.

As a child, she dreamed of becoming a nurse, college professor, and even a rock star.

Little did she know when it came time to choose a career she would decide upon one that would affect more careers than just hers. But first she needed to start her own leadership training.

A few of Senior Master Sgt. Lisa Pina’s leadership attributes can be traced back to participation in athletic sports.

“Growing up, I always thought it was important to help people, whether it was helping with homework, cleaning up the locker room or motivating teammates to push themselves,” she said. “It's important that we don't make ourselves seem above certain tasks. Always be willing to do the things you ask those around you to do!”

After enlisting in the Air Force, she would learn even more leadership skills starting with basic and technical training. She would go on to develop skill sets in both education and training and communications career fields.

During her 10 years on active duty and 12 in the Reserves, she has learned how to grow her leadership skills from her supervisor’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I’ve had some really great supervisors,” Pina said. “I’ve had some really bad ones too, but you take from people what you hope to become.”

After all of Pina’s years learning leadership skills, she now uses them as the 301st Force Support Squadron force development superintendent. As the superintendent, she emphasizes the importance of mentorship in an Airmen’s career.

“We all need somebody to mentor or help facilitate our careers,” Pina said. “I think we sometimes lose great Airmen because they didn’t feel valued or felt like they weren’t going to go anywhere. I try to remember that everyone has a story and different things motivate us. We all have the potential to be great…sometimes we just need somebody to stop and listen to us.”

Pina and her team play a vital role in developing and empowering Airmen in the 301st Fighter Wing by helping them connect to resources for degrees, like the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), along with professional military education, such as on-the-job training or Airman Leadership School.

Pina’s philosophy is to educate somebody on how to do something, so that person can show somebody else. This leads to supervisors knowing how to teach their Airmen what is needed, she said. The end result is Airmen who don’t have to be spoon-fed every step of their career.

Working with Airmen yields personal rewards for Pina.

“The biggest thing is when they call back and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got my degree!’ or we send an e-mail saying congratulations you are done with your CCAF…that’s it. That’s why I come in here right there. That is the most amazing feeling.”

Pina’s ability to empower Airmen is evident to Staff Sgt. Christina Sadberry, 301st Force Support Squadron assistant NCO in charge of career development.

“Senior Master Sgt. Pina is one of the best people I have worked with in my military career,” she said. “She is all about people. She will go above and beyond to ensure members of the wing are taken care of. This may mean she stays later or does things out of her normal job duties, but she is a firm believer in ensuring members succeed in their career. If she is able to assist with that, you can guarantee she will.”

One way Pina assists with seeing members succeed in their careers is by offering guidance on goal setting.

“Really sit down and examine where you want to be in six months, one year, and three years,” she said. “Your path, where you want to be, is going to determine the steps that you need to take.”

Another person who works with Pina, Tech. Sgt. Johannah Carter, 301st Force Support Squadron NCOIC of customer support, shares her observations of the superintendent.

“She contributes by being the Airmen’s voice,” she said. “She has a level head, common sense, and will say what others will not, [she is] an overall great mentor.”

One member of the wing who knows Pina better than anyone else is her husband, Tech. Sgt. Manuel Pina, a 301st Security Forces Squadron member.

“She is a caring leader,” he said. “Her primary concern has always been that her people are taken care of. When I mean her people, it doesn’t just mean members she directly supervises. It doesn’t matter if the members are even in her squadron. I truly believe that in her mind if you wear an Air Force uniform now or have worn the uniform before, you are her people.”

Pina’s advice to Airmen, her people, coming up through the ranks is to, “Make people your number one priority because without them, nothing will get done! Talk to people the way you want to be talked to.”

She reminds Airmen that leadership opportunities exist for everyone.

“We are all leaders, regardless of our rank and position…somebody is always looking towards you to do the right thing!”

After 22 years of serving her country in multiple locations, Pina continues to empower Airmen to learn, to teach others, and to lead.

Public Affairs (817) 782-5000