‘Let’s Connect’ comes to Malmstrom

From left to right, Lt. Col. LaShauna Lindsey, 341st Communications Squadron commander; Maj. Naomi Franchetti, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron commander; Chief Master Sgt. Minnette Bohlander, 341st Maintenance Group superintendent; and Senior Master Sgt. Tessa Fontaine, 341st Security Support Squadron security forces manager, discuss a topic during the first “Let’s Connect” event Nov. 16, 2017, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. “Let’s Connect” is a professional development directed primarily toward females but is open to anyone to help individuals understand their peers, leaders and subordinates better. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christy Mason)

From left to right, Lt. Col. LaShauna Lindsey, 341st Communications Squadron commander; Maj. Naomi Franchetti, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron commander; Chief Master Sgt. Minnette Bohlander, 341st Maintenance Group superintendent; and Senior Master Sgt. Tessa Fontaine, 341st Security Support Squadron security forces manager, discuss a topic during the first “Let’s Connect” event Nov. 16, 2017, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. “Let’s Connect” is a professional development directed primarily toward females but is open to anyone to help individuals understand their peers, leaders and subordinates better. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christy Mason)

Chief Master Sgt. Minnette Bohlander, 341st Maintenance Group superintendent, center, discusses challenges she faced throughout her career at the first “Let’s Connect” event Nov. 16, 2017, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The event’s theme, Lead like a Girl, focused on specific discussion topics including improving workplace relations, controlling emotions and communication up and down the chain of command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christy Mason)

Chief Master Sgt. Minnette Bohlander, 341st Maintenance Group superintendent, center, discusses challenges she faced throughout her career at the first “Let’s Connect” event Nov. 16, 2017, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The event’s theme, Lead like a Girl, focused on specific discussion topics including improving workplace relations, controlling emotions and communication up and down the chain of command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christy Mason)

Malmstrom’s “Let’s Connect” graphic. (U.S. Air Force graphic by 2nd Lt. Megan Duenas)

Malmstrom’s “Let’s Connect” graphic. (U.S. Air Force graphic by 2nd Lt. Megan Duenas)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --

“Let’s Connect,” a mentorship forum which brings Airmen of all ranks and career fields together, was held for the first time at Malmstrom Nov. 16.

The event’s theme, Lead like a Girl, focused on specific discussion topics including improving workplace relations, controlling emotions and communication up and down the chain of command.

“Similar to ‘Lean in Circles,’ ‘Let’s Connect’ is a new part of the Malmstrom movement to get individuals together who want to help women be better versions of themselves – to be there for each other, to learn from each other and to help each other connect and communicate better to be stronger members of our Air Force,” said Senior Master Sgt. Tessa Fontaine, 341st Security Support Squadron and event chair. “Today was our kickoff event and there was a lot of interaction, a lot of questions. We’re talking about some uncomfortable situations at times, so this was just our first one to help get people familiar and comfortable.”

Although the forum was geared toward helping women, anyone on base was welcome to attend.

“It’s a professional development directed primarily toward females but is open to men, women, or anyone who is interested in learning the struggles that our female Airmen - being officer, enlisted or civilian - go through,” said Fontaine. “It can help all individuals understand their peers, their leaders and their subordinates better.  Even though we all do the same thing, we’re a little bit different and sometimes you have to understand where that person is coming from and educate them.”

For some, life spent at a missile wing can have additional challenges and having a support group larger than just their office or section can make all the difference.

“A lot of it is really about networking,” said Airman 1st Class Megan Genung, 341st Mission Support Group and event chair. “Being confined to only your squadron you may not know who else or what else is out there. Coming to these events brings everyone together and you are able to meet more people and hear ideas and other problems you yourself may be dealing with and realize you’re not facing them alone.”

The kickoff event featured a panel of senior leaders from different career fields discussing challenges they faced throughout their careers and how they overcame them. However, according to Genung, the next Let’s Connect will more centered around Airmen living in the dorms.  

“Our next event November 13 will be an ‘eat and mingle’ type event in the dorms with dinner provided,” she said.  “Afterward there will be NCOs to talk about real life Airmen things especially in the dorms that we face on a lower level.”  

According to Chief Master Sgt. Amber Mitchell, 341st Missile Wing command chief, several other opportunities are coming in the future to include “The Huddle Malmstrom,” an avenue for male mentorship for all ranks and affiliations; “Let’s Talk Malmstrom,” a professional development opportunity for spouses on a range of topics; and “Professional Development Delivered,” an opportunity to deliver topics direct to units and to the missile field.

“With ‘The Huddle’ coming on board we plan to do a lot of things together to help bridge those gaps and help learn from each other and better each other,” said Fontaine.