Undersecretary Gina Ortiz Jones, the Department of the Air Force’s No. 2 civilian, is stepping down effective March 6. The department’s comptroller, Kristyn E. Jones, will become Acting Undersecretary up her departure, the Air Force said.
“Undersecretary Jones has been a tireless advocate for the Department of the Air Force and its people,” said Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall in a statement. “Her leadership in enabling all Airmen, Guardians, and their families to serve to their full potential and providing the resources they need has enhanced the readiness of the Air and Space Force for years to come. The department is grateful for her dedicated service.”
Ortiz Jones, the 27th undersecretary in Air Force history and sixth woman to hold the position, was confirmed by the Senate in July 2021. A former Air Force intelligence officer, she is also the first openly lesbian undersecretary, and her time serving in the era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” shaped her experience.
“I was honored to wear our nation’s cloth,” Ortiz Jones said. But like her uncle, who joined the Navy as a steward at a time when opportunity for Filipinos was limited, she too faced barriers, she told lawmakers during her confirmation hearing. “Similar to my uncle’s limited career opportunities because of his ethnicity, my experience in the Air Force was hindered by the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” Jones said in her opening statement. “Yet I, too, remained undeterred because of my desire to serve our country. That experience cemented my resolve to ensure anyone ready and able to serve can do so to their full potential, and accordingly, our country’s fullest potential.”
As undersecretary, Ortiz Jones sought deeper analysis of the department’s racial and gender disparities and a broad review of gender-biased Air Force policies affecting the careers of female Airmen and Guardians.
Her efforts yielded policy changes, such as allowing pregnant candidates to apply to the Air Force’s Officer Training School without a waiver and sending female Airmen to the Royal Thai Air Force Air Command and Staff College for the first time.
Ortiz Jones also championed a “no wrong door” policy, with one office of primary responsibility within the department to address domestic violence, harassment, and stalking, and touted the benefits of a diverse force, framing it as an issue of readiness.
Ortiz Jones will be replaced in an acting capacity by Kristyn E. Jones, no relation, who has been with the Department of the Air Force since May 2022 as assistant secretary for financial management and comptroller. In that role, she serves as the department’s chief financial officer, overseeing a budget of more than $194 billion.
Krystyn Jones’ prior roles Department of Defense included stints as the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for financial information management, director of enterprise transition planning at DOD’s Business Transformation Agency and a tour as financial manager at the Office of Naval Research.
She will be the fourth acting undersecretary since 2019.