LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS –
The Inter-American Air Forces Academy welcomed its first Hispanic female commandant when Col. Maria Cordero took command and hit the ground running last month.
"One of the things that really stands out about Lackland is that everyone seems to be like one big family," said the Miami native. "After one month on station, I've seen that Team Lackland truly is a family and people genuinely support each other's goals and aspirations."
A veteran of more than 26 years, Colonel Cordero has held numerous personnel and command positions at various major commands and squadron levels.
"A lot of things have happened in my career by coincidence," said Colonel Cordero. "I happened to be in the right place at the right time."
Prior to taking command at IAAFA, Colonel Cordero was the first female group commander in the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay.
"While working for U.S. Southern Command, I had the opportunity to travel through many of the Latin American countries," said Colonel Cordero. "When I was presented the opportunity to come to IAAFA, I just couldn't pass it up."
As commandant of IAAFA, Colonel Cordero will oversee Air Force members who provide technical and military education training in Spanish to the military and government agencies of 21 Latin American countries.
"My predecessor had great vision for the academy and realized years ago that IAAFA needed to pick up some new courses to keep the pace with the technological advances of some of our Latin American partners," said the colonel. "The biggest challenge will be to find a balance and ensure IAAFA is able to provide education and training to all the Latin American students, regardless of the technological differences throughout Latin America."
The new commandant is aware that the challenge of maintaining this balance may prove difficult, but has complete confidence in her people.
"I am working with great people and I am particularly impressed with the quality of the people assigned to IAAFA," said the commandant. "They have their heart and soul in their jobs and in working with the air forces of Latin America."
As a former commander in South America, the colonel has met her share of challenges, particularly in breaking cultural barriers in Latin America.
"Many Latin American forces are not accustomed to female officers," said Colonel Cordero. "It was important that I set the right tone and convey my firm focus on the mission while maintaining rapport."
The colonel expressed the importance of prioritizing and establishing goals within IAAFA.
"As leaders we must remain enthusiastic and motivate our people," said Colonel Cordero. "We must set high standards and enthusiastically pursue them in order to try to make IAAFA the best academy that we can make it."