AFA Emerging Leaders

May 29, 2019

Mitzi Morrison in front of a STEM display. Courtesy photo


Home State: Texas

Chapter: Donnelly Chapter (Texas)

Joined AFA: 2016

AFA Awards: Chapter Teacher of the Year, Medal of Freedom, AFA Medal of Merit

Occupation: Director and Founder of Graham Robotics Academy

Education: B.S., Business, West Texas A&M University

How did you first hear of AFA

Texas State AFA President Mike Winslow invited me to join and become involved in the organization.

Why did you join AFA

I joined because AFA supports Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education programs like the Robotics Academy. As an educator, I need support in funding, advice, and information on the latest trends in STEM. An alliance between airmen and educators is very beneficial to my program and motivates my students to choose STEM careers. Additionally, I have two sons-in-law in the Air Force. My youngest daughter, Kristen, is married to SSgt. Mathew R. Beaton, stationed at JB Andrews, Md. My oldest daughter, Danielle, is married to Capt. Sean T. Conrad, stationed at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

What do you enjoy most about your AFA membership

I am grateful to work with the men and women who serve in the organization. I have met so many incredible people that have inspired me. They have insights that kindle a creative spirit in me. Being connected to AFA through the relationships that have come my way has proven that serving others leads to success.

What is your favorite AFA program, event, or project

The demand for cybersecurity is growing every year, and the national program that best addresses that need is CyberPatriot. This program creates paths to STEM careers by teaching a security mindset, software coding, and effective communication skills. These qualities lead to the next generation of cyber-skilled experts.

How has AFA helped you

As an educator, AFA has provided me with advisers, mentors, and curriculum resources, including STEM kits that teach aerospace concepts. People who work in the aerospace industry are on the frontiers of technology advances. Their approach to research and development teaches how to work in the present—but think in the future.

How do we build awareness about AFA

What should we pay attention to and how should we teach the next generation? The key is to “show me, teach me, lead me,” which is the central way to transform the coming generation. AFA needs to introduce space science curriculum at the elementary levels designed to give students essential skills in the shortest possible time and highest rate of retention. This would reinforce that AFA is the leading influence developing technical knowledge in the space age.

Robin Thompson speaking at an AFA event. Courtesy photo


Home State: Virginia

Chapter: Roanoke Chapter (Va.)

Joined AFA: 1984

AFA Awards: State President’s Award, Chapter Member of the Year 2009 and 2018

Military Service: 6 years, Active Duty

Occupation: Owner, Virginia Outpost, LLC

Education: B.A., Criminology, University of Minnesota; M.S., Criminal Justice, Minot State University; D.M., Organizational Leadership, University of Phoenix

How did you first hear about AFA?

I heard about AFA back in Air Force ROTC.

Why did you join AFA?

I initially joined AFA as a member of Arnold Air Society and because it was the thing to do on Active Duty.

What do you enjoy most about your AFA membership?

I have two favorite things about AFA membership. I value the opportunities to continue furthering the Air Force mission, as well as the camaraderie of the people in AFA.

What is your favorite AFA program, event, or project?

I am currently developing a drone competition in my chapter area, and I would love to build and expand it to the caliber of CyberPatriot and StellarXplorers.

How has AFA helped you?

AFA continues to give me leadership opportunities so I can help other people hone their own leadership abilities.

How do we build awareness about AFA?

We can spread awareness of AFA through word of mouth. We gain a lot by being motivated and excited members ourselves and sharing our excitement with others.

AFA began an Emerging Leaders Program in 2013 as an avenue to secure AFA’s future. The purpose of the program is to identify, motivate, develop, and encourage emerging leaders to serve actively in AFA by providing hands-on experience and unique insights into how AFA operates and is governed. Emerging Leaders volunteer for a year. With guidance from a mentor, they participate on a national-level council, attend national leader orientations, and serve as National Convention delegates.