A Woman Worth Watching

Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

When Master Sgt. Chereé Lewis inspects the Airmen in Airman Leadership School, she has high expectations.

They need to look sharp, be sharp and walk away from her five-week class ready to be leaders.

***image1***“Our big thing here is teamwork,” said Sergeant Lewis, Airman Leadership School flight commander. “I want people who work together from beginning to end and I want people who take responsibility for their actions.”

Her leadership lead to her nomination by U.S. Air Forces in Europe for the Profiles in Diversity Journal sixth-annual Women Worth Watching issue, which will be published in October. The journal highlights influential women executives focusing on professional contributions and achievements.

“While competition for this recognition is extremely tough, we feel Master Sgt. Lewis will be very competitive,” said Chief Master Sgt. Gary Coleman, USAFE command chief. “Regardless of the outcome, she is without question a woman worth watching, and a rising star in our Air Force.”

Sergeant Lewis is from Brooklyn N.Y., one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. She graduated high school at age 16 and couldn’t wait to see the world. At 17, she enlisted.

“I just knew the world was bigger than New York,” she said.

It’s been nearly 20 years since Sergeant Lewis joined the Air Force. Today, it looks a lot different than it did, she said.

“There were no women in positions of authority − none that I saw,” she said. But, over the years, the face of the Air Force changed, and she changed with it. She went from being classified as a secretary to working in Washington D.C. for Sheila Widnall, the first female Secretary of the Air Force. She’s worked with NASA and she earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and an Master’s in Business Administration. Still, she is awed by today’s incoming Airmen.

“We have the best, brightest Airmen,” Sergeant Lewis said. “And, they are smarter than they’ve ever been.”

And, when the Air Force says it’s leading the way in diversity, “no kidding, we are,” said Sergeant Lewis. “And, that feels good.”

Sergeant Lewis has been flight commander at Airman Leadership School, a course for senior Airmen recently promoted to staff sergeant, for one year. And, she sees herself as a role model for all Airmen, but especially for young women.

“When they see me, maybe they will think, OK, I can go back to my work center and do great things,” she said. “I want them to know they have power, and everyone can make a difference.”