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Striker, WLS leader hopes to become advocate for all

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tara R. Abrahams
  • Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

When the chance to be involved with the 2022 Air Force Global Strike Command Women’s Leadership Symposium came up, Master Sgt. Marie Wagand happily accepted the enlisted chair position.

“As an enlisted leader, when we are given platforms to advocate for enlisted issues, it’s important to seize that opportunity,” said the manager of Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Operations with Air Force Global Strike Command 1C3 Policy and Procedures.

This year’s WLS theme, Authentic Leaders, is something Wagand she feels strongly about. For her, there are three women who led and continue to lead her today: her mother, her mentor and a public figure.

“My adoptive mother, the only mom I have known, has been instrumental in showing me servant leadership from a very young age,” she said.

The Striker also credited her mentor, Chief Master Sgt. Angela Wheeler, for walking her through every step of her career and teaching her that all people are worth advocating for.

“Regardless of how you get a seat at the table, take it and be a voice for those who have none,” Wagand said.

Wagand also looks up to Shirley Chilsolm, a former New York state representative and the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1968. The master sergeant said one of Chilsolm’s famous quotes, “We must reject not only the stereotypes that others hold of us, but also the stereotypes that we hold of ourselves,” challenges people to give themselves more credit and grace than they often do.

Now, Wagand is striving to achieve her goal of becoming an advocate herself. She recently earned her master’s degree in divinity to better help those around her.

“For me, faith was something that got me through the toughest times of my career,” Wagand said. “Having been a single parent, married, divorced, and remarried and serving under DADT [don’t ask, don’t tell], I found that many are searching for self-acceptance, and I needed to learn over time that I was worthy of love. Faith in God has given me this platform and my hope is to be able to serve and support those going through many of the same challenges.”

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass also made an impact on Wagand’s choice to push forward as an advocate and authentic leader. Wagand recounted Bass’s comments on how Bass felt she needed to change or be different early in her career to fit in. Wagand believes learning emotional intelligence, fostering soft skills and balancing a professional role while remaining authentic to who one truly is can be challenging, but is necessary.

“For years, women have been fighting for a seat at the table, and as we move toward an attitude of accelerating change or losing, we need all voices to be heard in order to emulate a well-rounded lethal force,” she said. “As someone who served under DADT, I know firsthand the struggle of being authentic and effectively following and leading and I hope this year’s WLS provides the platform for other potential leaders and their future subordinates to be heard.”


The 2022 Air Force Global Strike Command Women’s Leadership Symposium is scheduled for April 12-13, 2022. For the most up to date information or to register, check out the AFGSC Women’s Leadership Symposium page.