Cross-Cultural Mentoring Program marks successful 2023, readies for 2024

  • Published
  • By Marisa Alia-Novobilski
  • Air Force Materiel Command

Taking care of people at every stage of their career is a priority at Air Force Materiel Command, and the AFMC Cross-Cultural Mentorship Program continues to play a significant role.

The command’s cross-cultural mentoring events reached more than 2,500 Airmen, Guardians and civilians in 2023, creating opportunities for individuals across all demographic populations to share their leadership journeys and perspectives while nurturing diverse dialogue and connections across the enterprise.

“Mentorship is a critical strategy in developing Airmen, Guardians and civilians to mentor others to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce in order to develop future leaders,” said Brianna Russ, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, AFMC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Team. “Cross-cultural mentoring is the platform to encourage mentors and mentees to seek professional relationships with people who do not look, act, or think like themselves.”

AFMC launched cross-cultural mentoring events in 2022, with virtual panels held in conjunction with special observance months such as Black History Month, Native American Heritage Month, and more. The events are a partnership between AFMC Workforce Development and the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility team to ensure equity in mentoring availability across all command demographics.

The events are hosted by the AFMC Major Command Barrier Analysis Working Groups, with virtual panel representation inclusive of individuals from the celebrated demographic at all stages of their careers. These events provide an opportunity for Airmen of all backgrounds to see themselves as future leaders and obtain perspectives on how to obtain their career goals.

“We’ve designed these events in a way that promotes conversation and discussion between our panelists and attendees. Ultimately, we want to inspire individuals to seek out mentoring relationships, whether with someone of a similar or different cultural background, so they can grow and progress towards their career goals,” said Amanda Smith- Nethercott, Command Mentoring Program Manager, AFMC Workforce Development Team.  “We’ve received a lot of positive response from the panelists as well as the attendees who enjoy learning about the challenges and triumphs of others and are inspired in their own journeys.”

Building on the success of the past two years, AFMC is making a few updates as it continues the cross-cultural mentoring program into 2024.

Virtual panels are scheduled for the third Tuesday of every special observance month, though there may be occasional date changes due to federal holidays, AFMC family days, or other special events.

“Our hope is that people will mark their calendars now, so they don’t miss any of the events,” said Smith-Nethercott.

A new panel focused on generational diversity is planned for August and will feature panelists representative of all generations of the AFMC workforce.

The mentoring team also hopes to provide greater awareness of mentoring opportunities available on AFMC installations and through the Department of the Air Force’s MyVector platform, growing participation across all demographic groups.

“The AFMC Strategic Plan Line of Effort Two focuses on ‘Taking Care of People,’ and that’s exactly what we are continuing to do through this effort. We are looking forward to 2024 and hope to grow and expand our program as we nurture our talent for the future,” said Smith-Nethercott.

To learn more about the AFMC Cross-Cultural Mentoring Program, visit

The proposed schedule of events of panels for 2024 is as follows:

  • Feb. 6: Black History Month Panel
  • March 19: Women’s History Month Panel
  • May 21: Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month Panel
  • June 18: LGBTQ+ Pride Month Panel
  • July 16: Civilian Workforce Focus Panel
  • Aug. 20: Generational Differences and Demographics in the Workplace Panel
  • Sept. 17: Hispanic Heritage Month Panel
  • Oct. 15: National Disability Employment Awareness Month Panel
  • Nov. 19: Native American Heritage Month Panel