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Childhood adversity drives Airman’s passion for diversity & inclusion

Tech. Sgt. Flavia Carver, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Equal Opportunity director, points out photos of team building activities conducted by trained diversity and inclusion facilitators at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, July 7, 2021. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established based on the recommendations of both the Office of Secretary of Defense and Air Force Inspector General independent review of racial disparity.

Tech. Sgt. Flavia Carver, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Equal Opportunity director, points out photos of team building activities conducted by trained diversity and inclusion facilitators at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, July 7, 2021. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established based on the recommendations of both the Office of Secretary of Defense and Air Force Inspector General independent review of racial disparity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. JaoTorey Johnson)

AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates (AFNS) --

It was the heckling from other kids that truly cut Flavia the deepest. As a young Romanian girl in a new country where she barely spoke the local language, Flavia Carver learned early on that some negative preconceptions are picked up at a very young age, and she experienced how painful it is to be the object of others’ prejudices. The taunts and jeers from her peers for her to “go back to your own country” hardened her skin, and it also solidified her fervency for seeking justice and encouraging inclusion.

Through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, Flavia’s family won the green card lottery that began their destination from Vălenii de Munte, Romania, to the United States of America and set her on a path riddled with barriers of adversity.

“People labeled my family as different because of our accents, behaviors, and mannerisms and that led to me being outcast quite a bit growing up,” Carver said. “That experience built resiliency within me, and I became a dedicated person that fought hard for what I wanted and all that America had to offer.”

Carver’s experiences with wrongdoers escaping just punishment inspired her dream of becoming a criminal prosecutor. She enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in Jan. 2013 as an avenue for reaching her goals. Carver plans to commission, and then attend law school through the Air Force’s Funded Legal Education Program.

In May 2021, Tech. Sgt. Flavia Carver deployed from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, where she serves as the Equal Opportunity director. As the EO director she processes complaints of unlawful discriminations, bullying, hazing and sexual harassment.

“I’m fully aware of my personal biases and what led me to be the person I am today,” Carver said. “But I don’t let that seep into my investigation and reports.”

Carver does her best to stay impartial. “While I can empathize with someone feeling they are being subjected to unlawful discrimination and bullying, I conduct clarifications to find the facts of the situations, so I don’t advocate for one party or another,” she said.

Carver’s role as EO director also leaves her responsible for proactively fostering unit cohesion and an overall healthy workplace climate for base personnel.

Earlier this year, the Department of the Air Force established the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on recommendation of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force Inspector General after a 150-page racial disparity review was released in Dec. 2020, indicating wide-spread racial disparities in the Air Force.

Al Dhafra AB began its Diversity and Inclusion program as a proactive response to the Air Force’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, with Carver as the director and Maj. Timothy Ralston, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group mental health provider, as the diversity and inclusion officer.

“The vision is to equip facilitators with tools to go out within their units and train unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion, and guided discussions to provide an inclusive environment where all Team ADAB personnel are able to perform to their top potential,” Ralston said.

Based on the racial disparity review, it’s clear the Air Force has some work to do in the diversity and inclusion realm, but Carver is hopeful for future changes.

“People have to understand and acknowledge that these issues exist,” Carver said. “Only then can they sit down and have the hard conversations about their own biases and how we can help eradicate the influence of those biases when interacting with others.”