Alumni Spotlight: Lindsey Wilkinson

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 3:30pm

Hometown: Spearfish, SD

Current Location: Belleville, IL

Major while at CoJMC: Broadcasting

Where are you currently working? Describe your role.

I am the Director of Public Affairs for Air Mobility Command (AMC), a major command of the United States Air Force. AMC provides airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation, global air mobility support and Global Mobility Mission Command to project, connect, maneuver and sustain the Department of Defense to achieve national security objectives. In this role, I advise and support AMC's 4-star commander and his staff, provide policy and guidance for 313 Public Affairs professionals across more than 20 subordinate organizations, and lead the Air Force mobility enterprise’s corporate communication, community relations, media operations and security review programs. I am also responsible for two Air Force 60-person regional bands, responsible for honoring those who have served, inspiring American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and positively connecting with the global community on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the United States of America.


Please provide a timeline of different jobs you've had throughout your career.

Upon graduation from UNL in 2004, I commissioned into the United States Air Force as a second lieutenant and public affairs officer. In the 18 years since, I have served on Active Duty, in the Reserve and as a supervisory government civilian. My assignments took me several places in the United States and overseas including California, Colorado, England, Iraq, Afghanistan, in the Pentagon, Nebraska (Strategic Command at Offutt AFB), and Illinois.


What job do you believe helped you grow the most in your career and why?

I have a motto that is shared by many of my military colleagues -- "Grow where you're planted." Every job I've had has positively added to my professional growth and experience. My career experiences include being one of the first public affairs officers to respond to the devastation following Hurricane Katrina, serving as the public affairs officer for our Special Operations units in Afghanistan, directly advising the Secretary of Defense's public affairs director in social media and corporate communication, and helping lead external communication for Air Mobility Command's key role in evacuating 124,000 Afghan civilians in 17 days. These experiences, as well as the more minor trials, tribulations, awards, accolades, relationships, and one-of-a-kind opportunities is why I love my job!


What is one CoJMC class or experience that made an impact on you as a student?

I was a Broadcasting major, but never had the opportunity to directly apply the skills I learned. The courses that I remember the most was Media Law and the capstone Broadcasting course. I know I was a terrible radio host for KRNU, but I loved that too!


Name a person who helped you be successful at Nebraska and how:

I wouldn't be where I am today without AFROTC Detachment 465. That organization developed me as a resilient, confident leader and afforded me opportunities beyond my imagination as an undergrad and cadet. I'm proud that one of my classmates and friends is now their Commander. Looking at you, Lt Col Phil Garito! ;-)


The best thing about being a Husker is…

Bleeding Red! I've encountered proud Huskers all over the World and a hearty GO BIG RED will always make my day.


Are you currently working on any special projects?

My team has taken a leading role in planning for a premier military exercise in the Pacific this summer called Mobility Guardian. This 2-week exercise, with participation across all the military services as well as several of our Nation's allies, will demonstrate maximized air mobility readiness in the Pacific theater.


Have you had any life changing experiences?

Oh my gosh, too many to count, but I listed several in my other answers. As a public relations professional, I've experienced peak crisis as well as incredible talent and innovation...and I've loved every single moment. My deployments overseas were unique and my time at the Pentagon afforded me the opportunity to communicate significant policy change including the dissolution of Don't Ask Don't Tell and opening all career fields to women. What remains a constant is the incredible, talented people that I've served alongside in every job.


What would you say is the most important skill or quality to have "out in the real world"?

A couple things:

1) Be ready for the most incredible highs and the most horrendous lows. You'll find yourself in many "pinch me" moments, but will also be leaned on during moment's of incredible despair.

2) Have humility and collaborate. This career field is not black and white and therefore you must be comfortable with working within the gray. Every single day, I am seeking the views of those around me...from the most "inexperienced" to the most "experienced." Their perspectives will play a more significant role than you can ever imagine.


Why should Nebraska students enroll in CoJMC courses?

Whether you pursue journalism, marketing or PR -- there is no better field for keeping you on your toes, leveraging your creativity and instinct, and creating lasting impacts. In my almost two decades in the field, I've seen the information environment become exponentially more dynamic and influential. It is a wonderful place to be!


What advice do you have for current students, prospective students?

Stick with it! I have recent college grads on my team and in many ways they are my most talented and influential. This field is always evolving and the skills our college grads have today are well-beyond my own...when you add those skills to a team of more seasoned professionals, you become unstoppable. When you start your first job, be bold with bringing your skills to the table while remaining open to learning from the experiences of the colleagues around you.



Lindsey Wilkinson