From the Air Force Reserve to the President’s Cabinet

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sean Evans
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

It’s not every day a member of the President’s cabinet visits Airmen to discuss career trajectory options.

The Honorable Dr. Kimberly A. McClain, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, visited the Airmen of the 514th Air Mobility Wing, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., April 6, 2024.

“I really wanted to take time out and come say hi. It's not that often that I have the opportunity to come out and see my fellow airmen,” said Dr. McClain. “I spent my entire adulthood serving our country but once an Airman, always an Airman.”

Dr. McClain, a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Lieutenant Colonel, previously worked with Col. Erik G. Brine, 514 AMW deputy commander, in the Pentagon.

“We worked together 14-15 years ago in the Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs and again in the Secretary of the Air Force Legislative Liaison in 2019-2020,” said Brine. “We worked jobs in the Pentagon as both civilians and reservists and were around the same stage in our career at the time. We've stayed in touch ever since.”

Dr. McClain stopped by the Freedom Wing to spend time with its Airmen and explain how she went from being a career military member to working agencies such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While speaking to the Airmen, Dr. McClain touched on many topics, among them – her perspective on congressional strategy, international cooperation, and Air Force policy.

“It’s about helping Airmen here and in other parts of the world; everything from their training and education to building partnership capacity across the globe, to being present in spaces that people never expected someone to be in,” said Dr. McClain. “That is our job. It is to protect the United States and our interests, both domestically and abroad.”

Dr. McClain, whose experience in military aviation, cybersecurity, defense acquisition, financial services, international security cooperation, and national security, is greater than 30 years, provided the attending Airmen knowledge they would otherwise not be privy to.

“I’m really curious as to how one gets to the position that you're in,” asked Col. Merrit Brockman, a senior leader in the 514th AMW. “How are these amazing applicants chosen and appointed?”

Dr. McClain emphasized the importance of the opportunities to learn and grow that she encountered throughout her career. While she did not know it at the time, the courses and the academies she attended made it possible to earn a position in the Biden administration.

“When someone gives you an opportunity to excel you may be hesitant or nervous, but just try it out,” said Dr. McClain. “This is especially important as a reservist because we don't often get the same opportunities that our active-duty peers do. You all deserve a seat at the table.”