Maj. Kari Fleming is a C-17 special operations instructor pilot and aircraft commander out of Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. (Courtesy)
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Maj. Kari Fleming will be walking the halls of the White House — as one of 15 White House Fellows in the 2014-15 class.
“It is important to develop diversity in leadership of our military,” Fleming said in an email to Air Force Times regarding her decision to apply for the full-time paid fellowship. “But in order to develop myself as a diverse leader, I feel that it is imperative to understand government and policy.”
President Lyndon Johnson created the highly-competitive White House Fellows program in 1964 to give promising professionals the opportunity to work with government officials and broaden their knowledge in leadership, policy and current affairs.
Fleming, most recently a special action officer to the commander, Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is a trained C-17 special operations instructor pilot and aircraft commander. The Naperville, Illinois, native has more than 1,900 flying hours, including more than 380 combat flying hours, according to an Aug. 25 White House release. Fleming flew in missions in Operation Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn and Unified Response, in addition to counternarcotics and medical evacuation campaigns. She deployed three times to Southwest Asia and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals and two Air Force Commendation Medals.
“A C-17 can carry a combat force package, humanitarian relief, and aeromedical evacuation patients, and is capable of rapidly delivering requirements halfway around the world,” Fleming said. “It is a unique capability of the Air Force and one that I am proud to have been a part of.”
Eight of the 15 new fellows are current or former military. Among them is former Air Force Maj. Mario Luis Ramirez. A Texas native, the emergency medical physician led a critical care air transport team in Bagram, Afghanistan, between 2012 and 2013. He separated from the service in August, Air Force spokesman Mike Dickerson said.
“He and his crew were credited with evacuating over 50 gravely ill and injured service members and were recognized with several medals and citations,” the White House release said.
Fleming, who is still working toward her Intermediate Developmental Education degree from Air University, said her main goal for this fellowship is to “absorb all that the fellowship has to offer so that I can share the knowledge and experience with the Airmen I will serve during my career.”
“The fellowship is a unique opportunity to be exposed to some of the greatest leaders of our time,” she said.