National Diversity Officer Named: Va. Wing's Sydow
Lt. Col. Elizabeth “Liz” Sydow will be Civil Air Patrol’s next national diversity officer.
Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP’s national commander and CEO, announced the appointment today, saying, “Lt. Col. Elizabeth Sydow of Virginia has accepted my offer to serve as CAP’s national diversity officer. I am confident that she is the right person to partner with me in moving CAP forward in this critical area.”
As national diversity officer, Sydow will serve as a representative to the national commander, participating in the decision-making process, as appropriate, on diversity issues.
“We know that CAP is an amazing organization for both our cadets and adult volunteers,” said Smith. “However, we can do better to ensure that CAP is available for a broad range of people, and that everyone has the opportunity to be successful in their volunteer experience.”
Sydow, a resident of Triangle, Virginia, said she is ready for the challenge. “I am honored and excited to fill this position and to build a foundation for expanding our opportunities and missions to a larger population,” she said. “My objective is to ensure our high-quality programs are accessible to all those eligible and interested in pursuing our missions and core values. I look forward to helping our units and wings expand their recruiting efforts and welcome new members from diverse backgrounds.”
In the past year, a diversity committee appointed by Smith and led by Col. Janon D. Ellis, CAP's National Capital Wing commander, has worked to develop concrete actions that Civil Air Patrol can take to enrich the CAP experience for females and ethnic minorities. Smith’s 2019 goals for diversity are to increase female membership by 1 percent and ethnicity by 0.5 percent.
To achieve this growth, diversity officer positions will be added at CAP’s wing, region and national level.
“As national diversity officer, I will be working with the national staff and region diversity officers to improve resources, remove barriers, develop partnerships, provide member education, and increase public awareness of our programs and missions,” Sydow said. “By increasing diversity, we will reach more people who wish to serve their community, help them pursue the unique opportunities that we offer, and in the process make CAP membership more representative of those communities.”
Sydow, currently the vice commander of CAP’s Virginia Wing, has a long history of CAP service. She has served at the wing level for the past four years, beginning with two years as the wing’s chief of staff before becoming vice commander, a position she has held for the last two years.
She's also the wing’s plans and programs officer.
Previously, Sydow’s CAP career included service at the squadron level – first in the Colorado Wing and more recently in Virginia, where she was commander of the Fredericksburg Composite Squadron from January 2013-March 2015.
She has Master ratings in Cadet Programs, Professional Development, Personnel and Command with Senior ratings in Finance and Administration. She is also a mission scanner, mission observer and mission radio operator, in addition to her Air Operations Branch Director and Ground Branch Director qualifications.
Sydow joined CAP as a cadet in 1978 in the Nebraska Wing and was active along with her entire family. She earned the cadet program’s top honor, the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, in April 1987.
She is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, having served on active duty and in the Air Force Reserves as a civil engineer. Her active-duty service includes squadron and major command civil engineer staffs and as an instructor of readiness and engineering management at the Air Force Institute of Technology.
As a reservist, she served at squadron, group and major command; on a Civil Engineer Staff Augmentation Team; and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She served on active-duty tours including commander, 90th Civil Engineer Squadron; deputy commander, 90th Mission Support Group; deputy commander, 50th Mission Support Group; and on the Air Force Space Command civil engineer staff. She retired from active duty with over 27 years of service.
Syidow holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial and management systems engineering from Penn State University and a master’s degree in technology management from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
She is married to retired Air Force Reserves Lt. Col. Bill Sydow Jr. and mother of three children, including CAP Capt. Rachel Sydow, who earned the Spaatz award as a cadet in May 2016, and CAP Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Sydow.