In our formative years, one of the first visible acts of our existence was to take an ad out in Checkpoints Magazine, as seen above. This was in 2009, prior to us being an Affinity Group of the AOG and prior to the repeal of DADT. It was very interesting to see "Letters to the Editor" in support, of course there were detractors, but in the minority. People had noticed!
ANNUAL DINNER EVENTS
Read on to see the programs for our past dinner events. The programs contained below have a lot of great history and information; particularly the earlier ones are chock full of valuable information. Must reads are:
2011 (link)- Some incredibly powerful and interesting perspectives from grads which is still useful today, starting on page 6. Each board member at the time wrote a one-pager as it related to their Academy experiences around Service Before Self, Integrity, and Excellence in All We Do. Spectrum cadets may find this valuable as well.
2013 (link) - From the "Stories in Character" section of the program starting on page 16, the story of a parent Paul Viotti ('66) dealing with a Son that came out to them by harkening back to lessons taught to them by an upperclassman in their squadron, Karl Richter ('64) - fantastic!
2021 - No Dinner due to Covid
2020 - No Dinner due to Covid
2019 - " The Visible Spectrum"
This dinner held at Ike's Grille following the game featured a pair (and couple) of active duty officers. Colonel Mo Barrett ('93) and Colonel Jennifer Barrett led a really interesting session consisting of opening remarks and then a really helpful Q&A from the audience which consisted of about 50 - including 30 Spectrum cadets. What made it so powerful was that these LGBT leaders had direct experience talking about service life today, leadership techniques and helpful hints for service for LGBTQ personnel. It was refreshing to see the culmination of years of work actually displayed in the career success of these officers.
2017 - "Serving Spouses"
Mackenzie Schofield ('13), a C-21 pilot and her wife Jennica Cromwell ('13) , an Intel officer, spoke about the unique issues and experiences of being a pair of married USAFA graduates, as they just returned from deployment together. We wanted to give a perspective of the “Air Force Warrior” from alumni that are Blue Alliance members. This was followed by a cadet panel of Q&A led by members of the Spectrum Club.
2015 - "Strength Through Shared Experience"
The honorable Gordon Tanner, Chief Legal Counsel and Judge Advocate of the Air Force, delivered a very interesting talk about his experience as a gay officer serving in the Judge Advocate General Corps, and how it led it him to where he is today - the top judge in the Air Force. He gave some very detailed and wonderful insights into Air Force plans for integrating and allowing transgender service. This was followed by a panel discussion led by Tara Sweeney ('95), featuring active service members across the Air Force - SMSgt Ashley Metcalf, Capt April Harker, and LTC Cynthia Clefisch.
2014 - "On the Pulse of Morning"
Set around Maya Angelou's message of simple hope, the 2014 dinner featured opening remarks by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James, followed by an extensive panel discussion featuring a diverse group of active duty, cadet, and alumni Blue Alliance members. Was an evening to remember!
2013 - "Stories in Character"
Not to be outdone on the dignitary side, this year saw acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning, at the time the first openly gay service Secretary - deliver opening remarks, along with introductions of new Superintendent Lt. General Michelle Johnson and Dean of Faculty Brigadier General Andy Armacost. This was a really wonderful evening because it allowed for the telling of stories and some new perspectives. Karl Alvarez continued his duty from 2011 as emcee, and our featured guest for the evening was Colorado State Senator Pat Steadman, a wonderful speaker, lawyer, and storyteller. He founded the non-profit that led to the landmark Supreme Court case "Romer vs. Evans" , which guaranteed protective rights for all LGBT citizens in 1996. Also featured in the program was a wonderful story in character by Colonel Paul Viotti, retired ('66). As a self described "straight parent of two" Paul tells how he dealt with and supported the coming out of his son by using his favorite example of a leader - Karl Richter ('64) who was a second classman in Paul's squadron when Paul was a Doolie. It is definitely worth a read!
2012 - "A Tribute to Alliances"
Blue Alliance found our home for all subsequent post Commander-in-Chief game events at Ike's Grille at the Eisenhower Golf Course at USAFA. This was a special event in many ways. It was the first time we created an award for a Flight of Heroes inductee - Dr. Steve Samuels. Additionally, our track record of attracting heavy hitters continued as Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark Welsh ('76) delivered the opening remarks. Our speaker and guest lecturer for the evening was Colonel Samuel "Bo" Mahaney, commander of the 452nd AMW at March AFB in Riverside, CA. What made this powerful was Colonel Mahaney, as an ally, spoke about how he leads, and how as a commander he was looking forward to working with LGBTQ+ personnel, since he stated he was well aware they were already serving admirably. Steve Clark Hall, the representative from USNA Out and a strong and valuable early resource and supporter, also delivered some comments. A large contingent of USNA OUT midshipmen were also in attendance and gave some wonderful remarks comparing cadet life at the Academies.
2011 - "A Celebration of Equality"
This milestone event saw Blue Alliance hold its first dinner on campus at Doolittle Hall following the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) and our newfound status as an Affinity Group of the AOG. The Academy had hired Dr. Adis M. Vila as Chief Diversity Officer of the Academy in order to highlight and implement diversity programs going forward, and she delivered an address. Our own Karl Alvarez ('84) saw fit to emcee a formal dining-in which was fitting, as our first dinner needed to be a bit of a show of tradition. This required many alumni to dust off their cover of Contrails.
2010 - "A Celebration of LGBT Service"
Our first dinner was held at a hotel in Westminster, Colorado in 2010. Our featured speaker was then Congressman Jared Polis, now the first openly gay serving Governor of Colorado. As you will see as you go along, Blue Alliance likes to go big when asking for speakers. Congressman Polis gave a wonderful talk on inclusion, and highlighted his plans to work closely with USAFA, as he was also a member of the Academy Board of Visitors.