LA Air Force Base Pioneers New Diversity and Inclusion Program

  • Published
  • By Tamry L. McCauley
  • SBD 3

The Department of the Air Force officially established a Diversity and Inclusion office in 2021, with the goal of cultivating an equitable environment for all DAF personnel, by finding and fixing policies and procedures that might have adverse impacts on underrepresented troops and eliminating barriers and other practices that might impede their careers in the Air and Space Forces. You can read the full press release here. With the stand-up of the U.S. Space Force, the newest branch of the Armed Services in 73 years, Space Base Delta 3, Los Angeles Air Force Base, picked up the torch and established a D&I office, hiring Dr. Paul “Tim” Stearns, to take the helm as director.

“This is an opportunity to build a strong and diverse work force from the beginning,” said SBD3 Commander, Col. Mia Walsh. “Establishing a Diversity and Inclusion office here is so important in getting after the Department of the Air Force goals but also providing a stronger, more cohesive workforce that ultimately allows us to recruit and retain the best talent and enhance mission effectiveness,” said Walsh. “Which is why Dr. Stearns, and his expertise is such a huge asset to SBD 3 and LA AFB.”

Stearns arrived in August 2022 and is already making great strides in bringing this program up to speed and fully operational.  “We have an opportunity to get this right, with a newly created office, a new organizational structure and a new branch of service," said Stearns. “We are committed to build diversity and inclusion into our culture.”

In the spirit of “newness” the USSF moves into its third year, with a new Chief of Space Operations, and new Lines of Effort. LOE #2, Amplify the Guardian Spirit, embeds D&I efforts into the mission by stating how our Nation benefits from a strong force, and our force is the strongest when Guardians are thriving in their organizations. It also states that Guardian talent and expertise is our most important advantage.

The USSF is well on its way to setting the standards of what a diverse and inclusive work force looks like. “Leaders have an opportunity to set a “new” standard that does not tolerate racial or gender bias. Understanding how issues like unconscious bias, lack of role models, and communication barriers impact members of our community are subjects I will train on,” said Stearns. “This training will provide our leaders with the tools to foster a culture that is inclusive to members from all walks of life.”  

Without programs like this to educate our force, the lack of knowledge on creating a more diverse work force can cause employees to feel frustrated, excluded, and unheard. Through these programs we acknowledge and harness our diverse talents to ensure our people are taken care of and can thrive in their organizations. “When people feel seen, heard, understood, valued and accepted for who they are, studies show they will perform better and be even more committed to your organization and mission,” Stearns stated.

Stearns, a New Jersey native, who calls San Diego home, loves the culture and diversity of Los Angeles. Growing up as an Army “Brat” he was provided unique experiences associated with military family and culture. Extensive travel during his younger years also allowed him to meet people from all over the world. He attributes his military upbringing to his desire to work in the D&I career field.  

After graduating from San Diego State University, Stearns supported the U.S. Marine Corps, by managing a program that oversaw one of the first High Intensity Tactical Training Centers which focused heavily on human performance and injury prevention. Stearns was able to assist the Marines with exclusive resources, training experts, and fitness programs – all aimed to make Marines combat fit and combat ready.

When the D&I program came along it was a natural fit for Stearns. Now he’s able to apply another form of wellness to military members and make fundamental changes for the next generation of Airmen and Guardians. Once the program is fully implemented here, he plans to provide guidance and oversight to cultivate an equitable environment for all personnel, by identifying and fixing policies and procedures that might have adverse impacts on underrepresented populations, as well as eliminating barriers and other practices that might impede their careers with the military.

“Bringing this program here, at this time, shows the USSF is pro-active in establishing change. The traditional work environment of outdated and unacceptable behavior is no longer a culture we support. The challenges that Airmen and Guardians face require strength and agility, and failure to get this right, is not an option, Stearns concluded.

To find out more about how you can support the LA AFB office of D&I email