Finding a mentor doesn’t always mean looking up

  • Published
  • By Michele Donaldson
  • Air Force Materiel Command

Mentors are often thought to be individuals who have “made it” and can provide wisdom and guidance for others in the workplace. “That is only partially true,” said Anna Morris, a member of the Senior Executive Service, who hosted the Air Force Materiel Command Cross-Cultural Mentoring Panel Feb. 15.

“When I met Lt. Col. Ethel Seabrook-Hennessy, who is with me on this panel, she was a major and I was a colonel. I met her at the Pentagon where I was navigating the process of staffing packages through the chain of command,” said Morris, Director of Contracting, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hanscom Air Force Base. 

“She had all the stakeholder contacts and coalition building that I sought, and she mentored me through the process,” she continued. “She had the expertise I needed at the time I needed it. She was, and still, is a trusted mentor to this day.”

The AFMC Black History Month mentoring panel featured leaders from across the enterprise who shared insights on mentoring and how individuals might seek out mentorship for themselves. In addition to Morris, the panel featured Hans Augustus, Director of Business Operations, 633rd Contracting Squadron, Joint Base Langley/Eustis; Bhakti Mary, Materiel Leader, Collaborative Combat Aircraft, AFLCMC, Wright-Patterson AFB; and Lt. Col. Ethel Seabrook-Hennessy, Chief, Contacting Management Branch, Air Force Strategic Command, Offutt AFB.

The panelists highlighted the importance of mentoring for people at all levels of their career as well as the need for mentorship in one’s personal life. Throughout the question-and-answer session, the audience was advised to seek out mentors who could provide unique perspectives and ideas for growth in all areas of life. Self-care was also addressed as a critical aspect of success.

“I don’t call it work/life balance, but work/life harmony, because sometimes work takes more and sometimes personal life does,” said Seabrook-Hennessy. “I try to set boundaries. We need to take into account how our actions affect others. If you are sending emails at 8 or 9 o’clock at night, what message does it send to your team?”

AFMC Cross-Cultural Mentoring sessions began in 2022 and, due to their positive reception, they are continuing in 2023. This session was the first for the year, held in conjunction with Black History Month.

The goal of the mentoring sessions is to create an inclusive culture where all people feel comfortable in conversations around demographic diversity. They also aim to eliminate barriers Airmen and Guardians may face when searching for, and benefiting from, a mentor.

The next Cross-Cultural Mentoring session will be a hybrid event held concurrently with the Women’s Leadership Symposium on Feb. 28.

To watch the Black History Month panel, visit


For more information on the AFMC Mentoring Program, visit