Perry Center Holds First Inclusive Security and Defense (ISD) Course
ISD 2024 write-up
Credit: WJPC/IT
05 Mar 2024

From February 26 to March 1, the Perry Center held its first Inclusive Security and Defense (ISD) course. Fifty-one representatives from 26 countries convened online to share their experiences and explore best practices for improving recruitment and retention of a diverse force, developing internal policies and practices that accommodate diverse needs, and leveraging aspects of diversity to improve operational outcomes. The group of civilians, military professionals, police officers, scholars, security practitioners, and NGO representatives – whose native languages include English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French – embraced a unique opportunity to discuss diversity and inclusion in the Americas as pertains to defense and security.

Dr. Paul J. Angelo, Director of the Perry Center, delivered the opening remarks with the following statement: “Questions surrounding diversity in the security and defense sector have come to the forefront and are an integral part of our conversations at every turn. These considerations affect all the Center’s lines of effort, whether it is cybersecurity, issues related to the environment, peace processes, or stabilization missions. I hope you will not only learn about how diversity makes us better and stronger as a region but also acquire a familiarity with other perspectives and an understanding of how best to include and represent diverse voices in the security and defense sectors in your own countries and institutions.”

Major General (ret.) Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall, who serves on the US Department of Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, provided keynote remarks about her life and career. Maj. Gen. Urrutia-Varhall is the first and, to date, only Latina to have attained the rank of Major General (2 stars) in the United States Air Force.

The timing of the course, which bridges two heritage months in the United States (Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March), was intentional. Heritage months have been recognized in the United States since 1926. They are not only a celebration of diversity but also a time to reflect and to recognize underrepresented groups.

Inclusive Security and Defense (ISD) is a five-day virtual course, led by course director Arturo Sotomayor. We thank Dr. Sotomayor and Perry Center presenters Dr. Patrick Paterson, Dr. William Godnick, and Georgina Crovetto; as well as group leaders and facilitators Dr. Danielle Jacon Ayres Pinto (Brazil), Dr. Carolina Carolina Sampo (Argentina), Deyanira Juliet Murga (Mexico/United States), and Marvin Mathelier (United States). We want to express our deepest gratitude to our guest speakers for sharing their time, wisdom and experiences with us: Hadeil Ali (Center for Strategic and International Studies), Commander André Agraviador (US Department of State), Dr. Natalie D. Baker (National War College), Dr. Roberto Dondisch (University of Washington), Victor Esteves Garcia (US Department of Defense), Colonel Bree Fram (US Air Force), Dr. Shirley Graham (George Washington University), Dr. Catherine F. Lantigua (US Northern Command), Dr. Jason Lyall (Dartmouth College), Duilia Mora Turner (WPS Advisor), Dr. Sasha O’Connell (American University), Luisa Fernanda Riasco Gamboa (Huaitoto Foundation), and Major General (ret.) Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall.