Maintenance Squadron's all-female leadership triad focused on teamwork, communication, camaraderie

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Karissa Dick
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

A remarkable all-female leadership triad recently relinquished the cockpit of the 58th Maintenance Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. This trio not only brought a refreshing transparency to their roles, but also prioritized fostering a sense of family within the unit.

For the brief two months they worked together, Maj. Alyssa Heimerman, 58 MXS commander, Senior Master Sgt. Danielle Downs, previous 58 MXS senior enlisted leader, and Master Sgt. Christie Cooper, 58 MXS first sergeant, served as the 58 MXS leadership team from October- November 2023.

“I’m proud to be part of the first female leadership triad I’ve had in my career,” expressed Downs. “As a team, we worked together for the betterment of the unit and that feels amazing. These are awesome professional Air Force women that I’ve gotten to work closely with.”

One of the key pillars of their leadership approach was reinvigorating the family aspect within the 58 MXS. Recognizing the importance of an inclusive and supportive work environment, they implemented various initiatives aimed at strengthening the bonds among Airmen.

“The thing I’m most proud of that we accomplished is bringing that family aspect into the unit,” said Heimerman. “From celebrating new family members to making sure EPBs and awards were ready, we made sure to put the time into the little things that made people feel appreciated. The benefit of what we did made it worth it.”

Heimerman elaborated that they incorporated regular family-focused announcements, developed Airmen to be competitive, reinvigorated the spouse’s group, ensured Airmen were upholding quality maintenance standards, and maintained consistent open communication. These leadership efforts were all essential to creating a sense of unit camaraderie that boosted Airmen’s morale.

Visibility and approachability were also important aspects of their leadership. These leaders actively engaged with the 58 MXS Airmen, demonstrating the value of face time and engagement from all levels. This not only created mutual trust, but also encouraged teamwork and open communication between Airmen and their leadership.

“Mission is a big focus here, but so is the well-being of our people,” elaborated Cooper. “When people are taken care of, they can focus on their job. We help do that by getting out into the unit, getting to know the people, relaying information to Airmen, and giving and receiving feedback, so we know what we can do as leaders to make the squadron better. People know they can come in and be comfortable speaking to us about any issues they have going on.”

According to Cooper, a notable change by the triad was the implementation of a QR code system for anonymous comments and reporting. This initiative provided a platform for Airmen to express concerns, offer suggestions, or report issues without fear of reprisal. The commitment to creating a safe space for communication demonstrated their dedication to inclusivity and addressing concerns at all levels.

As of November 2023, the triad has parted ways after Downs relocated to the 71st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kirtland, where she now serves as the senior enlisted leader.

“I don’t think of myself as a female leader, I just see myself as someone who shows up to do a job and do it well,” mentioned Downs. “Being in a male dominated career field, like maintenance, I think having a female triad was important because it shows that it can be done, and it gives other women and Airmen someone to look up to and know they can achieve the same.”

Despite their short two months together, this all-female leadership triad undoubtedly left a lasting mark. Their emphasis on transparency, family, and communication strengthened the unit and set a future precedent for diverse, inclusive, and effective leadership within the 58 MXS.

“We didn’t get to spend nearly as much time as a triad as we wanted. We made the most of what we could in those two months as a team,” explained Heimerman. “We did great things together and I think we could have done even greater things if we had the time.”