Dr. Elizabeth Medina, Civil Air Patrol’s new chief diversity officer, strongly believes the work of diversity, education, and inclusion – DEI – “is a journey, not a destination, and if we are doing it right, we are going to be doing it the rest of our lives.”

In filling the newly created post, Medina said, she’s committed to ensuring CAP focuses on the vison of embedding DEI throughout the entire organization in alignment with its mission. She will lead in the creation and execution of a plan that will establish values-based goals to be achieved on local, regional, and national levels.

Medina joins CAP after previously serving as the first chief diversity officer at a private liberal arts university and then transitioning to her recent role as the inaugural DEI director for a corporate startup in the health technology industry. She expressed great enthusiasm about the opportunity to fill the DEI role for CAP, both because of its articulated values as well as a legacy of impacting lives across communities in need.

Medina also acknowledged the servant leadership CAP members display in assisting people in times of crisis as well as in helping shape young leaders and promoting science, technology, engineering, and math in the nation’s classrooms. “Servant leadership, particularly within in historically underrepresented, underserved, and underestimated communities, resonates with me both personally and professionally,” she added.

CAP’s multiple areas of emphasis translate into an ability “to impact diverse communities across a range of social identities and lived experiences,” Medina said. She concluded by saying that committing to ensuring and expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization’s leadership and membership can only strengthen that impact.

John Salvador, CAP chief operating officer, described Medina as “extremely experienced in and deeply passionate about supporting, empowering, and uplifting others through the creation of diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments and experiences.” He said she’ll “work closely with CAP’s volunteer national diversity officer and the DEI council to help CAP achieve our DEI goals through organizational accountability.”

CAP’s work over the last several years to expand its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and its prioritization of this leadership role “communicates to me the importance CAP places on the work”, which in turn she finds “indicative of an organization that is really trying to continue making progress when it comes to DEI,”  Medina said. 

She plans to build on this foundation: “Yes, I am going to plant seeds, but I am also going to water the seeds that others have planted,” because she views it as her job to move this work forward across all aspects of the organization with a focus on CAP’s mission, vision, and values.

As a newcomer to CAP, Medina also said she plans to initially “do more listening than talking” – “getting to know individuals, teams, the work they do, the people they serve, and learning what the needs of the organization are in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Along the way, Medina said, she’ll gain a greater understanding of Civil Air Patrol’s history and culture as well as the organization’s policies and practices, which will ultimately inform how she shapes a sustainable diversity, equity, and inclusion plan.