DEMA celebrates differences as strengths

DEMA celebrates differences as strengths

Members of the First Nations Warriors Society presents the colors during the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs inaugural Diversity Day. The event highlighted DEMAs longstanding cultural inclusiveness and diversity.

PHOENIX— Guardsmen and civilian employees came together Sept. 30 at Papago Park Military Reservation to celebrate the diversity that makes the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs an effective and inclusive agency.


More than 200 Soldiers, Airmen and civilians from throughout the agency gathered to watch festive performance groups from various cultures including Ballet Folklorico Fuego de Phoenix and the Fushicho Daiko Drummers to name a few.


“Inclusivity often is in the same conversation as diversity,” said Mr. Barry Wong, Director of the Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity. “Having a mix of people in an organization is only successful if they are integrated in…the process of workplace decisions, operations and leadership.”


This integration is a key piece of the puzzle that makes an organization like DEMA more in line with the governor’s idea of making state agencies more efficient.


“This diversity in government adds the robustness of problem solving, decision-making, innovation, and service to country,” Wong said.


Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, the Director of DEMA and the Adjutant General of the Arizona National Guard emphasized the importance of recognizing each other’s differences.


“Each of us comes from some different cultural background, but no two of us are identical and the strength of our organization, the strength of our military is only brought to bear when we respect and bring forward that diversity of thought from every culture,” McGuire said.


The diversity of the Arizona National Guard goes back to its very foundation when Arizona was still a territory.


“Pima and Maricopa Indians made up three of the five initial companies that formed [the Arizona National Guard] over 150 years ago,” McGuire said.


That diversity was on display as coworkers, battle buddies and wingmen listened intently to the prayer songs of Edward Reina, a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. They watched the traditional Hispanic dancers flowing traditional dresses and moved to the rhythm of the Daiko drums.


Members of DEMA in Army green, Air Force blue and in civilian attire sat next to one another, not just as Soldiers, Airmen or civilians, but also as individuals that make up the DEMA team.


McGuire described the over 8,000 members of DEMA as important pieces of a puzzle that when the organization recognizes and celebrates diversity we come together as one.


“We work together as one continuous unit but we are represented by 8,190 individual pieces,” McGuire said, “but diversity to me means bring all these people together to work towards a greater good.”