Col. Elizabeth Anderson, Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the Wing Commander, 21st Space Wing, Peterson Air Force Base

Her day job combines Col. Elizabeth Anderson’s dual talents as a leader and work force organizer.
With responsibility for more than 6,000 officer, enlisted, civilian and contract employees as well as 7,000 family members who are part of 44 units assigned to the world’s largest U.S. Air Force base, she carries an impressive workload.
Anderson’s role as assistant to the Command of the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base is to provide missile defense and space control/surveillance support for the base’s combat troops.
It’s a big job, but Anderson never expected to be your average 9-to-5 employee.
Upon earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Connecticut, she was commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
“When I was considering a career in the 1970s, the women’s movement was just starting. That’s when I decided as a woman I wanted to be paid the same a man would be for the same job,” she said.
Anderson entered active duty in July 1979 and following assignments in Arizona, Alaska and Germany, she transferred to the Air Force Reserve where she served as a technician in the Total Quality Management field and as a student at the Air War College.
Ultimately, she achieved the dual position as director of personnel and as the 302nd Mission Support Squadron Commander.
In October 2001, she began duties at the 460th Air Base Wing at Buckley Air Force Base. She volunteered for and was deployed for nine-and-a-half months to two locations in Pakistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Anderson assumed her current position with the 21st Space Wing in January 2004.
“The wing commander serves basically like the mayor of a town,” said Maj. Amy Sufak, who nominated Anderson as a woman of influence. “As the chief reservist on base, Col. Anderson steps up whenever Col. [Jay] Santee is traveling. It’s a lot of responsibility and she handles it every day with so much enthusiasm.”
Her nominators, Sufak and Sr. Airman Mandy Weightman, as well as those who have worked with her in the community, use the same two words to describe Anderson’s talents: energy and enthusiasm.
In addition to a full plate of military responsibilities, Anderson also participates in several civic organizations.
On top of all that, Anderson also manages to run a small business and is an active member of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. She is a parishioner at Holy Apostles Church and was recently named to the Board of Trustees for Catholic Charities.
As a Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado volunteer, Anderson has served on the organization’s board of directors and earned the SERTOMA Service to Mankind award from the Austin Bluffs chapter.
John Gatto, owner of Crestone Commercial Real Estate has served with Anderson on the J.A. Board of Directors. He sees Anderson as an asset to the organization, even when faced with periodic deployments.
“She recently left for Iraq and came back, but remains an active, energetic and enthusiastic contributor to our efforts,” he said. “She’s always working for us nationally as well as locally.”
But it is Anderson’s military colleagues who pay her the greatest compliments.
“She’s our highest ranking reservist and a woman to boot,” Sufak said. “She sets an excellent example for younger airmen — from smooth operations of our roads, clubs, medical clinics, schools, community services to our military training and service.”
“The Air Force pays me for leadership,” Anderson said. “I think it can be an acquired trait. I was the oldest of five and took advantage of experience in Girl Scouts, high school band and ROTC to learn a take-charge attitude.”
Of her many achievements, Anderson picks promotion to colonel in 1998 as her proudest moment. That has been followed by three meritorious service medals, receipt of the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with five oak leaf clusters and the Air Force commendation medal with two oak leaf clusters and numerous other professional awards and milestones.
“What I really like about what I do is that it provides an opportunity to keep learning. I’m still challenged and stimulated,” she said. “Someday when I leave the military, I’d like to make my business more successful and go back to school to get an MBA.”
Until then, Anderson will continue to leave a legacy of leadership in her military, civilian and entrepreneurial worlds.