AFSAC hosts Black History Month panel

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mikaley Kline, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Public Affairs
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFLCMC) – The Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate (AFSAC) hosted a panel discussion with representatives from government, academia, law enforcement and private industry here, Feb. 29, 2024.

The theme of the panel discussion, organized by the AFSAC Black History Month committee, was “Identities outside the stereotypes.”

Panelists included:
  • Willis Blackshear Jr., state representative for Ohio’s 38th house district
  • Caleb Morrissette, law enforcement officer in Columbus, Ohio
  • Camille Hall, local small business owner
  • Gary Ellis, Naval Medical Research Unit research psychologist
  • Shenise Turner-Sloss, AFLCMC logistics management specialist and Dayton, Ohio City Commissioner
Question 1: What does success look like for someone in your position?
Willis Blackshear Jr:
“I was talking to some high school leaders the other day and I was telling them I wish I could snap my fingers and all of the world’s problems would go away. A lot of the issues our communities are dealing with, it took decades for us to get where we’re at. My job is to help chip away at some of the issues that plague my constituents. Partnerships, to me, look like success because I am only one person and it is going to take a team effort to change some of the things our folks are facing.”
Question 2: What are the sacrifices made to receive that rank/title?
Caleb Morrissette
“I’ve always kept a bit of a small circle but believe me when I tell you that when I got into law enforcement, my circle got quite a bit smaller. The community that I serve is a well diverse one so I’m able to see to see it from multiple angles. For instance, when I’m on my way to work I am a black man, but once I get to work, I am now an officer. So, some people who see me as a friend or someone they can speak to, but then when I put my uniform on those same people see me as an opposition to them. This is one of the things that opened my eyes [when I got into law enforcement] is the sacrifices that came with the job and wearing the uniform.”
Question 3: What is your personal philosophy and how has that impacted your success?

Camille Hall
“My personal philosophy is wrapped up in these things. I try to the best of my ability to lead my life in a place of kindness that’s based in love. You can find yourself in difficult spaces working with difficult people that make you want to respond in difficult ways. So, I recenter myself. I consider myself a close master of being able to express to someone how I feel but doing so from a place of love and kindness. It’s not about being nice since being nice oftentimes puts you in a box of being complacent, docile, and not speaking your truth. I can tell you how I feel in a kind way, and you can determine how you want to receive that.
Question 4: Does/has anything intimidated you, and how do you overcome those challenges?
Gary Ellis
“I’m going to be very transparent. One of the most difficult things about my career is that it is occupied by predominately white spaces. With that, I bring in a lot of expectations of myself. I tell myself that I must be perfect because I’m not just representing myself, but that representing my community. And if I screw this up it makes the likelihood that they’ll hire someone who looks like me very slim. Therefore, it’s my responsibility to not only show up, but to show up in a way that makes it very clear that I’m the best. I can’t be mediocre. I have to go above and beyond the expectations that were set before and that is very intimidating.”
Question 5: What is your proudest accomplishment?
Shenise Turner-Sloss
“One of my proudest accomplishments, thus far, is being elected as the third African American female to serve as a Dayton city commissioner. It was a lot of work, and it was hard. I remember the first time that I ran for office as it was three months after I gave birth to my last child. I did it for several reasons; it was done out of frustration and concern. I thought no one else wants to do it so I’ll put my name in the hat. I lost my first two attempts. I made up my mind to try again since I saw so many people that poured into me that really wanted a change in our community. I knew that the third time was going to be the charm and in November 2020, I was the highest vote getter.”