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Garrison hires new staff to focus diversity, inclusion

Man standing

Hugo Escobar, recently hired as Peterson-Schriever Garrison diversity and inclusion coordinator, will collaborate with volunteer Airmen, Guardians and civilians to expand inclusion and equity across Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, where he will primarily work. He has worked at the Airman and Family Readiness Center since 2006 and previously served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve with the 302nd Airlift Squadron, as well as having a background in human resources. (U.S. Space Force photo by Fiona Truant)

Woman standing

Tephanie Hopper, recently hired as Peterson-Schriever Garrison diversity and inclusion coordinator, will collaborate with volunteer Airmen, Guardians and civilians to expand inclusion and equity across Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, where she will primarily work. She is a U.S. Army veteran and has worked in youth program coordination, volunteer management, dispute resolution and human resources at her previous duty station on Fort Bliss, Texas. (U.S. Space Force photo by Fiona Truant)

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Peterson-Schriever Garrison leadership selected two individuals to serve as the Diversity and Inclusion Coordinators on Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, and Schriever SFB, Colorado.

“My goal is to advance the diverse workforce on Peterson-Schriever Garrison, which involves inclusion, equity and — and this is important for me — to be visible to people so they don’t have to be experts,” said Hugo Escobar, Peterson-Schriever Garrison diversity and inclusion coordinator.

Escobar will work primarily on Peterson; his counterpart on Schriever is Tephanie Hopper. Peterson residents may already know Escobar. Since 2006, he has worked in the Airman and Family Readiness Center, offering financial planning and separation aid, and he previously served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as the 302nd Airlift Wing director of equal opportunity. Escobar noted that he also has a professional background in human resources.

“We endeavor to be the model of equitable and inclusive culture by eliminating bias and discrimination in our practices and policies,” said Hopper.

Hopper comes from Fort Bliss, Texas. She is a U.S. Army veteran and has worked for the DoD since separating in 1999. She worked as a youth program manager at the Fort Bliss Education Center, then as an Army volunteer corps manager under Army Community Service, which she called similar to AFRC. She also worked as an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor there, as well as serving as a dispute resolution mediator for both Fort Bliss and the County of El Paso, Texas. In May of 2021, she earned her Master’s degree in human resources.

“I will play a role in attracting, growing and retaining the world’s finest talents by increasing the overall diversity of the garrison,” said Hopper.

Hopper explained that diversity encompasses more than just different ethnicities or religions among service members — it includes things like gender, sexual orientation or mental health status. Making the garrison into that model of equitable and inclusive culture demands deep, nuanced understanding of a culture’s needs in terms of both bigger and more local trends and conversations. There is a lot to know, but it’s Escobar’s and Hopper’s job to be the go-to knowledge bank for garrison leadership.

“They don’t have to be the experts,” said Escobar. “That’s where we’re available to do training, to do awareness work, to have conversations or to describe experiences. A lot of the way I’ll accomplish my mission is through training to have conversations, and not just easy conversations. I’ll bring awareness to hard conversations, which are equally important as celebration conversations.”

To identify those hard conversations, Hopper and Escobar will first build an understanding of who their office will serve and what their most pressing needs are. They’ll start by using extant data on the demographics of garrison staff and service members, but they’ll expand that with a variety of surveys and listening sessions. By doing so, they hope to identify gaps in good-faith efforts to build an inclusive garrison at every level, making it easier for Airmen and Guardians to be not just represented but included in their teams and communities, able to voice opinions and concerns alongside their peers.

“Diversity is great, but if we don’t have inclusivity, what’s the point?” said Hopper. “If troops don’t feel like they belong, they’re not going to stay in the military. That’s why leadership by inclusivity is so important to me. I have been there. I have felt like I don’t belong.”

Escobar and Hopper will be practicing inclusion in their own work, seeking volunteers for a variety of future committees and working groups. Most immediately they are building a diversity and inclusion council which will meet monthly starting in late March.

“The council will provide representation from different backgrounds and will meet monthly to offer advice on diversity and inclusion issues, strategic planning initiatives, performance measures, including analysis, assessments and outreach,” said Hopper.

In the longer term, the council will form working groups, like a planned barrier analysis working group, which will identify and propose interventions to eliminate barriers to equal opportunity. Escobar and Hopper plan to form Schriever- and Peterson-specific working groups as well.

“For this program to succeed, we’re going to need to have a lot of involvement from service members to civilians who are interested,” said Escobar.

For more information on diversity, inclusion or the diversity and inclusion council, or to volunteer, contact the coordinators by e-mail at hugo.escobar@spaceforce.mil or tephanie.hopper@spaceforce.mil.

 

 

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