Nominations are closed. Come back February 3 to meet the candidates!

Athens Pellegrino

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: MacDill Air Force Base

Number of Deployments: 12

Number of PCS's: 8

Share your military spouse story:
Hello, my name is Athens Pellegrino. I am a military spouse of 12 years, civilian Budget Analyst for the United States Air Force, and international author. My husband Christopher and I met while attending Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. The rest is history. Our love for one another has grown stronger every day. We have a son Atticus (3), daughter Callista (20 months), and another baby on the way (April 2022). We have completed 12 deployments and 8 permanent changes of stations (PCS). Our latest PCS was to Florida during the height of the COVID pandemic, with a two year old and seven day old newborn. The experience allowed me to reflect how difficult the military lifestyle can be for families. I hoped to find books to be able to help families cope with PCS challenges, but there seemed to be minimal resources available. As a result, I created the book series, The Military Child Chronicles, which has been receiving global recognition. The first book of the Chronicles is, “MISSION: MY FIRST PCS.” This book was inspired by our many moves and features my son Atticus. He learns that his family will relocating over the summer and experiences a roller coaster of emotions. I offer tips and activities to help military families be engaged and positive during PCS transition. The second book is, “MISSION: MISTLETOE.” The book was created to demonstrate how the holidays can be hard for military families since we are geographically distanced from our loved ones and to embrace our military community. My goal with the series is to continue writing chronicles that provide comfort and support for military children and adults.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have recently been nominated and selected to participate in the Defense Civilian Emerging Leaders Program (DCELP). DCELP is a highly selective competency-based leadership development program for emerging leaders that provides a comprehensive blueprint for professional development for the Department of Defense (DOD). I was selected to serve as representative of the United States Air Force Financial Management Field. I have experienced many career obstacles as a military spouse and realize how difficult it can be to maintain and grow a career. As a result, I participate on various podcasts such as: Homefront Girl, Mom Bosses Abroad, Reading With Your Children, and Good Morning Mimosas to share my career experience and tips. I also provide mentoring, resume editing/feedback, and military spouse friendly employment opportunities on my social media pages. I truly believe it is important for spouses to go after dreams and love watching it become a reality for them

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I always make a point to be involved with the Spouses Groups where we live. While my husband attended Air Command and Staff College, I served as the school's Spouses Group President. I also served on the board of the Maxwell Spouses Group as the ACSC Spouses liaison. The exposure to the diverse backgrounds and experience of over 400 DOD and international spouses were invaluable learning opportunities. I ascertained a common denominator which was the perpetual challenges military families face and have made it my personal duty to be able to help our community thrive.

Describe how you support your community:
Ultimately, my military spouse background has led me to become an international author. I published a series, The Military Child Chronicles, which was created to serve as a tool for military families during difficult times. I wanted to be able to provide families with a resource to overcome hardship and obstacles in life. The Military Child Chronicles series has received recognition internally and is available across global platforms.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for the military community and families. As a spouse, mother, civilian employee, and author- I have learned and continue to learn of the hardship and need for support within our community. I love serving our country and being a member of the military community and have been blessed with opportunities to meet other families who unselfishly do the same.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have spread my message of the importance of military community and family support through international, national, local, and social media. I have interviewed with international media outlets such as: Stars and Stripes (Europe, Korea, Japan, Okinawa), Troy University, It’s a Military Life, and Mom Bosses Abroad. I have appeared nationally on news stations like ABC News and Spectrum News 9. I am a guest speaker for Hillsborough School District and provide a live story-times, books, and a Q&A panels. In addition, I weekly am a guest on podcasts, participate at live and virtual story-time events, and guest write for PCS Grades and Military Mom Collective. I love being a sponsor to national events such as USAA’s Military Spouse Fest, giveaways, and featured on Story time Online and YouTube. Lastly, I maintain very active social media pages for the Military Child Chronicles featuring: military family resources, PCS Tips, Lifestyle Hacks, family activities, and my personal experience.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
With the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title, I hope to be able to grow my platform and create awareness on the importance of military community and family support. I believe it is my calling and duty to support the military community. I pledge to be an advocate, role model, and leader to get us the family, financial, educational, and emotional support that we need. I will continue to keep serving my community with the upmost respect and dedication. Thank you for your consideration.

Nominations

Athens self-published two children’s books for military families this year. The first helps families prepare for a PCS and the second helps explain the unique holiday traditions of a military family. Both are geared towards entertaining children while providing helpful parenting tips. She has participated in public readings and pod casts throughout the year on many topics relating to resiliency for military spouse networks and support to military families. On top of her writing and speaking commitments to the military community she holds a full time GS job as a budget analyst for the 6 MSG at MacDill AFB. Athens still makes time to be a dedicated mother of our two children (ages 3 and 1 with one more on the way this spring) while supporting me in every way. Her ability to put family first, support every one around her, and work full time is incredible. She is a remarkable spouse who worked hard and accomplished a lot this year. Selflessly, it is community and family that drives her.
- by Chris Pellegrino