Missouri Guardsmen receive Dreamer Presidential Choice Award

  • Published
  • By Sarah E. Lupescu
  • Missouri National Guard Public Affairs
Two Missouri Guardsmen received the Presidential Choice Award at the Jefferson City branch of the N.A.A.C.P. 49th annual Freedom Fund Dinner.

"We have some distinguished Service members we'd like to recognize," said Nimrod Chapel Jr., president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - Jefferson City Branch 4064. "These individuals, through their tireless efforts and willingness to give of themselves to ensure that other folks have an opportunity, are being recognized."

Senior Master Sgt. Alvin Sims, a human resources advisor for the 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, at Whiteman Air Force Base, and Lt. Col. Janice McCall, an equal opportunity advisor with Joint Force Headquarters each received the award.

As the human resources advisor, Sims' responsibilities include advising command leadership of issues leading to the enhancement of the organization's culture, promoting opportunities for all Air National Guard members to maximize their individual potential for success without regard to their cultural differences. This is achieved through leadership advisement, force development, diversity education, and mentorship.

Sims conducts diversity training and force development training for the 131st Bomb Wing. He also works with a number of recruit and retention programs in the area of force management of recruiting and retaining diverse members. Sims is also credited with creating the first 131st Bomb Wing diversity council.

"We all know that when you look at diversity it doesn't have any laws or policies that say you need to be a diverse organization," Sims said. "Diversity comes from leadership, whether that's the leadership of a wing commander or the leadership of a company commander. When you are a part of an organization you want to know that you are represented throughout the ranks because you might want to one day be a company or wing commander."

McCall has a prominent role in managing the equal opportunity initiatives to ensure fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory treatment of all members of the Missouri National Guard. She advises commanders regarding issues and processing of discrimination plans. She also collects, organizes, and interprets demographic data in all aspects of equal opportunity organizational climate assessments.

"49 years," McCall said. "What an accomplishment. When I see myself listed among such amazing award recipients tonight, I feel completely privileged."

When looking at some of the other people in the room, it is obvious they aren't done working to ensure equality, McCall added.

"I promise you in my commitment to civil rights, I'm not done yet," McCall said.

The Presidential Choice Award is given to an organization or individuals in the public or private sector in recognition of their commitment and dedication to equal opportunity, access, employment, diversity, community support and leadership.

Former Congressman Ike Skelton was the evening's guest speaker.

"We have a great nation, we really do," Skelton said. "We have men and women in uniform and regardless of their background or regardless of their rank, they are superb. I've been able to go from military base to military base and aboard ship to visit our troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Europe, and other places in Asia."

During those trips Skelton had the opportunity to speak with senior enlisted African American Service members about their military experiences.

"They all said they very same thing," Skelton said. "That the Army had been good to them. I think that is due to the attitude of all those in the military who are making it work. And it does work."

Skelton served on the Armed Services Committee for 30 years and was in Congress for 34. During those years he watched the military grow and improve.

"I am convinced that today our military is the finest we have ever had," Skelton said. "We must do our best to encourage them and to keep it, and to urge those who are interested to join. It's good for them and it's good for America."

Past Missouri National Guard award recipients include Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, 1st Sgt. Mary Williams, a public affairs specialist, and Sgt. 1st Class Terri Greene, a human resources specialist.