Chief Master Sgt. Karen Pignataro has been selected by the wing commander to be the 102nd Intelligence Wing’s new command chief master sergeant. She is succeeding Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Raymondo, who has been in the position for the last 4 years. Tech. Sgt. Kerri Cole from Public Affairs recently had a chance to sit down with Chief Master Sgt. Pignataro for a Q & A session.
Tech Sgt. Cole: What are some goals you plan to achieve as the new command chief? Challenges?
Chief Master Sgt. Pignataro: “My goal is to continue to support the Airmen and the mission of our Wing, as well as carry on the legacy that our previous command chiefs have established. I’m also looking forward to learning more about the Airmen in all the different work-centers throughout the wing. I'd like to branch out and learn more about what everyone does and learn about some of their issues.”
“Challenges are going to be dealing with some of the fiscal uncertainties--impacts of the budget are going to be a challenge this year.”
Tech Sgt. Cole: Who has helped shape you to become the leader you are today?
Chief Master Sgt. Pignataro: "First I would be my father. He was enlisted and served 41 years in the Navy. I watched his path to success and really paid attention to the positive choices he made in his career. I also enjoyed going to various functions with him when I was younger, like air shows, which is how I initially became interested in the Air Force."
"Secondly, everyone has their own way of doing business, but when you watch how leaders successfully lead and understand the techniques they used, that really makes an impact on how you lead other people. Many of the wonderful Airmen and leadership I have met in my maintenance career, as well as over here in Intel, have helped me in this way." She adds, "And also taking note of what not to do has helped."
Tech Sgt. Cole: What is some advice you would give to Airmen who hope to become a Chief Master Sergeant someday?
Chief Master Sgt. Pignataro: "Stay true to the Air Force core values. By staying in those lanes, you'll always have a clear path to success.”
“For the NCOs and Senior NCOs: Get to know your Airmen. Take ownership of who you've been charged with leading, and don’t lose sight of what it was like to be a junior Airman. You'll earn their respect, trust, and become more effective leaders overall."
Tech. Sgt. Cole: What are you most looking forward to in this new role?
Chief Master Sgt. Pignataro: “I look forward to meeting, understanding and supporting our enlisted members and their families throughout the wing. I am people-person and really enjoy taking care of people and helping them work through issues and hearing their stories. I plan to get really involved and get to know my 102nd family better. We have some really skilled, educated and experienced people in this wing. That what I love about the guard—it’s a great close-knit, family environment.”
Chief Pignataro has been in the Air Force for 31 years and started her career in the Aviation Propulsion field in 1980, active duty. After serving eight years, she separated for two years and joined the Massachusetts Air Guard in 1990. She held various full-time positions in the 102nd Maintenance Group such as Non-Destruction Inspection, Aircrew Egress, and Aircraft Quality Assurance. She worked in the QA section as a specialist until she was a Master Sergeant.
When the superintendent of QA retired in 2000, she applied for the position and became the next QA superintendant, and climbed her way to Chief Master Sergeant.
“Don’t make it easy for them not to choose you for a position because you didn’t fill a square. I had all of my training and PME done, and had set myself up long before the opportunity became open,” she adds.
In 2008, after the fighter wing transitioned to an intelligence wing, she went through re-training and was appointed the superintendant of the Operations Support Squadron in the 102nd Intelligence Group, where she oversees intelligence operations, training, mission management, manpower, morale programs and many others.
Chief Pignataro is involved in her church community and likes to stay active in her off-time. She enjoys sports such as golf, and has played softball and basketball most of her life.