Barksdale Air Force Base, La. --
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey R. Alexander, director of Air Force Global Strike Command A5/A8 Strategic Plans, Program and Requirements, and Chief of Staff of the Michigan Air National Guard, was named the 2023 U.S. Air Force Black Engineer of the Year Stars and Stripes Honoree. The award will be presented Feb. 10 at the 18th Annual Stars and Stripes Awards in National Harbor, Maryland.
According to the Career Communications Group, Inc., who spearhead the awards, “The Black Engineer of the Year Awards in science, technology, engineering, and math recognizes leaders who are developing innovation.”
Alexander was chosen for the BEYA due to his outstanding contributions as a leader both with AFGSC and the Michigan Air National Guard, as well as being a positive role model for those aspiring to have careers in STEM in both the public and private sectors.
“I am happy to be a black leader in the Air Force and the Air National Guard and to have been given this opportunity to be selected for this achievement,” said Alexander. “I am humbled by this selection, and I think I won because I have tried to do the best I can, always.”
Alexander commissioned into the U.S. Navy in 1990, where he flew multiple fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. After nine years in the Navy, Alexander transferred to the Air Force, where he flew the E-3 Sentry. From there, he became instrumental in establishing an Air Force Cyberspace Operations Center and cyber integration into the Air Force Warfare Center. He later worked for AFGSC, where he created operational directives for deterrence and conducted full-spectrum informational global plans. Alexander retired from active-duty service in 2011.
After retiring, Alexander received a letter of indispensability, allowing him to join the Air National Guard in 2011.
Since then, he has been the director of the Operations Staff with the 217th Air Operations Group, Battle Creek ANG Base, Michigan, where he planned non-kinetic operations for multiple combatant commands. From there he went on to become the commander of the 110th Operations Group, Battle Creek ANG Base, Michigan. As the 110th OG Commander, he stood up MQ-9 and cyber operations squadrons in the Michigan ANG. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he was appointed to be the deputy joint task force commander supporting the Governor of Michigan’s requirements. Prior to his current position, he served as the A3/A5 Director Joint Force Headquarters, Lansing, Michigan.
As Chief of Staff for the Michigan ANG, Alexander provides strategic counsel and management for the entire Michigan ANG, comprising more than 2,400 Airmen and provides insight to the National All Domain Warfighting Center and the Kelly Johnson Joint All Domain Innovation Center. As Director of AFGSC’s Strategic Plans, Programs, and Requirements office, he directs the $97 billion program objective memorandum for AFGSC’s nuclear modernization efforts.
Alexander balances his military service while still working alongside civilian employers, and said he is grateful for the opportunities that allowed him to continue to serve his country.
“The military and my civilian employer, Leidos, have been very inclusive, and both support the idea of the National Guard,” said Alexander. “Opportunities become available based upon past performance, attitude, behavior and willingness to help others. In my case, the Michigan Air National Guard, the National Guard Bureau, Air Force Global Strike Command and Leidos have collectively and selflessly let me continue to serve this nation.”
That service was instrumental in Alexander’s selection for the BEYA award.
Over the span of four decades, the BEYA Conference has connected 100,000 American students with role models in STEM careers. Alexander hopes that by winning the 2023 BEYA, he can inspire future generations of students to be leaders in their own STEM careers.
When asked what advice he would give younger generations working toward careers in STEM, Alexander stressed the importance of viewing past experiences and failures as opportunities to grow, learn and connect with others.
“Learn as much as you can, do as well as you can, build relationships to not only further your career, but to also further you as an individual. Make sure to have balance between work, family, your spiritual practice of choice, and to treat others with respect,” said Alexander. “If you do those little things then you’ll find that people will give you options and opportunities to help you excel in life. People will be more open-hearted with you because you were open-hearted with them first.”