Meet 4th AF's command chief: CMSgt Cynthia Villa

  • Published
  • By Fourth Air Force Public Affairs

Editor’s Note: Chief Master Sgt. Cynthia Villa is Command Chief, Fourth Air Force, headquartered at March Air Reserve Base, California. As the senior enlisted leader, she is the Fourth Air Force commander’s primary adviser regarding the welfare, morale, operational readiness, and discipline of the enlisted force. Fourth Air Force has command supervision over the Reserve’s long-range airlift and air refueling units located throughout the continental U.S., Hawaii, and Guam; providing leadership, management and oversight to 18 flying wings, and one regional support group; with responsibilities encompassing 300 units and more than 35,000 personnel.

Recently, Chief Villa sat down with us and we ask her a few questions about her career and plans for her new position. Here’s what we found out:


Q. What are your main goals as Fourth Air Force Command Chief? 

A. My main goals as Fourth Air Force Command Chief are to continue to focus and deliver on our Air Force’s leadership priorities: readiness, leadership resiliency, and reforming our organizations. Additionally, executing our mission and vision of providing mission-ready strategic mobility forces; answering our nation’s call to be the foremost Strategic Mobility Total Force Partner. Citizen Airmen … Ready, Willing and Able. Focusing on leadership development is also an equally important priority for us.


Q. What are you most looking forward to as you settle into your new position?

A. What I’m most looking forward to and excited about is meeting the thousands of Citizen Airmen across Fourth Air Force, witnessing their passion to make mission happen, and recognizing what they and their families do in service to our nation. I am just as excited for the opportunity to team up and work with some of the best command chiefs in the Air Force —my teammates. Together we will continue to frame and build on some of the great initiatives within Fourth Air Force.  


Q. What do you feel are some of the challenging issues facing Fourth Air Force Airmen today?

A. Some of the challenges facing Fourth Air Force Airmen today are manning, with both civilian and military positions, military pay, and financial constraints that force leadership to prioritize expenses.


Q. Tell us a little about your civilian career?

A. My civilian career is quite interesting and rewarding. I am an Engineering Asset Operations Manager for a major aerospace corporation within the state of California. I manage a diverse team of approximately 23 employees.


Q. Why did you decide to join the Air Force Reserve? 

A. When I initially entered the Air Force I was active duty and joined to hopefully put myself through college. I finished my AD commitment and actually missed it; I loved the military. I had never heard of the Reserve component until one of my co-workers, who was a reservist, made me aware of it. I immediately signed up and here we are; one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.


Q. What are some of your career highlights (military and civilian)?

A. Some of my career highlights in the military have been being a part of the different Air Force statuses (AD, TR, ART, and now AGR).  However; being a First Sergeant for nearly five years was by far one of the most rewarding and huge highlights of my career. 

Furthermore, having the honor to serve as the 452nd Air Mobility Wing’s Command Chief and working for one of the best leaders in our Air Force, Brig. Gen. Matt Burger, was an equally humbling highlight. I share these moments of my career, but truly the most impactful highlights have been the times that Airmen have placed their trust in me and allowed me to challenge, help, mentor, and develop them. Watching them be resilient, determined, and persevere has been priceless. 

Their success is what matters; it’s never about me. Gaining the respect and trust of commanding officers, and working closely with them in the best interest of our Airmen is another highlight. One of my civilian career highlights has been becoming a manager within the corporation.


Q. How has being a Reservist helped you in your civilian job and vice versa?

A. Leadership is universal. The Air Force has truly invested in my personal and career development as a leader which has afforded me the opportunity to use the gained experience, skills, and tools in my civilian capacity.  Interesting enough, military or prior military members are highly sought for employment by the corporation I work for.  It is not uncommon that I will run into three to five Citizen Airmen on a daily basis at my civilian place of employment.  It is humbling working with Citizen Airmen in both capacities; their work ethic is second to none!  


Q. What one piece of advice has stayed with you throughout your career? 

A. Take advantage of every opportunity the Air Force has to offer. Always raise your hand to be a part of something; a change maker.  We all have unique skillsets we bring to the table. Let’s capitalize on each other’s skills and make a difference.  The easy route is to get caught up in negativity and become a naysayer.

I challenge you to always take the high road, remain positive and be part of something bigger than self.  Most importantly do not be discouraged; stay motivated, determined, and humble. Sometimes all it takes is GRIT.  


Q. What have you learned during your career you wish you’d known before joining the military?

A. One of the things I wish I would have known or realized before joining is that one person, regardless of rank, age, gender, race, etc. can truly make a difference and have an everlasting impact in one’s life and/or career. It only takes one person who genuinely cares and believes in you to possibly save your career. 


Q. What words of wisdom can you provide to individuals considering careers in the Air Force (active-duty, Guard, Reserve)? 

A. My advice is “DO IT!”  You will embark in one of the most memorable journeys of your life. The privilege of serving our country and being part of the best Air Force in the world is priceless. The pride and feeling you get when you realize the impact you have on our Air Force mission and airmen is remarkable and at times unexplainable. You will meet a diverse group of people who you will learn from, bond with, and build forever friendships with. It’s always about the people. 


Q. Are there any final thoughts/messages you would like to send out to all of the Fourth Air Force’s Citizen Airmen? 

A. I’ve been bleeding blue since I joined in 1993. I have the same motivation and passion to serve as I did on day one.  It is truly a blessing to serve amongst amazing Citizen Airmen in the best Air Force in the world.  Being a servant leader in our Air Force is the best job ever. I am truly humbled to serve amongst you as your command chief and look forward to meeting you. It’s a TEAM effort … GO FOURTH AND CONQUER!