Wingman: Emerging Leaders

Nov. 29, 2018

Elinor Otto, one of the original Rosie the Riveters, and Nathan Wages at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference in 2017. Courtesy photo

NATHAN WAGESHome State: Georgia

Chapter: David C. Jones Chapter (N.D.)

Joined AFA: 2014

AFA Office: North Dakota State President, former Chapter President, and Vice President

Military Service: 1999-present, Active Duty

Occupation: Aircraft Specialist Section Superintendent

Education: A.A.S., Aviation Maintenance Technology, and A.A.S., Operations Management, Community College of the Air Force; B.S., Criminal Justice, Southwestern College

How did you first hear of AFA

Honestly, I’ve heard people talk about AFA most of my career, however, in my early airman years I really didn’t know what it was all about.

What prompted you to join

My wife became a lifetime member when she was in high school, so needless to say, once we got married she convinced me to join and help the local chapter with her.

What do you enjoy most about your AFA membership

I enjoy all the opportunities I’ve had to meet people throughout the community, such as senators and all the Air Force leaders that I would have never had the chance to meet otherwise. My favorite was meeting an original “Rosie the Riveter!”

How do we build awareness about AFA

Some people think AFSA (Air Force Sergeant’s Association) and AFA are the same organization. I’ve even had lieutenants tell me that their rater doesn’t push private organizations, so they’re not interested. I’ve had SNCOs including chiefs ask me what the difference is between AFA and AFSA. Because AFA and AFSA sound so similar, I try to avoid using the term AFA and actually say Air Force Association now when I talk to people.

How has AFA helped you

Through my constant interactions with people, AFA has helped to improve my communication skills.

Mario Rios. Courtesy photo


Home State: Texas

Chapter: Salt Lake City Chapter (Utah)

Joined AFA: 2012

AFA Office: Utah State Treasurer

Military Service: 2002-2005, Active Duty, 2013-present, Air Force Reserve

Occupation: SBIR Technology Transition Agent

Education: B.S. Industrial Engineering, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

How did you first hear of AFA

When I moved to Utah in 2011 to start working for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, one of my coworkers recommended I attend a meeting with the Industrial Associates (IA) of Utah AFA. This was my introduction to AFA and the IA.

What prompted you to join

Once I talked to the folks there, it seemed like a great opportunity to network and make some good SBIR connections. During that first meeting, the IA were looking for volunteers to replace the current treasurer, and I raised my hand just to be nice. I got the treasurer position since no one else volunteered. I became an AFA member at that point and have been involved ever since.

What do you enjoy most about your AFA membership

I like being part of the state committee (Utah AFA). There are a lot of activities for committee members to get more involved within AFA, as well as community events that give me the opportunity to interact and network with other great leaders who are making a difference.

What should AFA do to draw in more members

We need to identify ways to involve members in AFA activities. Members will renew when they feel valued and believe they are contributing to the organization.

How do we build awareness about AFA

We can drive awareness by word of mouth, print literature, event sponsorship, and community involvement, among other activities AFA has and will continue to be involved with.

How has AFA helped you

AFA has helped me in my current job by providing the opportunity to make connections and build a network. It has helped me personally by providing opportunities to lead efforts and have a committee position.

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.