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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Captain Allison Ecung, Deputy Chief of Public Affairs for the 514th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Lakehurst-Dix, United States Air Force Reserve Our Coverage Sponsored by Stribling and Associates

Captain Allison Ecung

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Captain Allison Ecung is the Deputy Chief of Public Affairs for the 514th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Lakehurst-Dix, in the United States Air Force Reserve. Her roles include organizing events, coordinating media flights, and writing press releases and articles to provide transparency and accessible information to the public.

Additionally, she provides support for the Air Force Media Engagement Office in New York to deliver responsive public affairs and communications capability within the five boroughs. The organization is also responsible for press and public events supporting the armed services including the Air Force Birthday on September 18th. In her civilian capacity, Allison is currently pursuing her PhD in Political Science with a focus on International Relations at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Captain Ecung received her commission as an officer in 2003 as a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. While on active duty, she served as a communications officer, as well as an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies and Commandant of Cadets for the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York. As Information-Operations Officer for Counter Narcotics Terrorism, she deployed as part of a joint force to stop drug-trafficking in Central America. On May 28th 2014, she was officially selected for promotion to Major.

A resident of Manhattan, Allison has a passion for organizing events and supporting nonprofit organizations. She serves on the junior committees of several charitable institutions including the Frick Collection, the American Museum of Natural History, the American Ballet Theatre, the Whitney Museum, Central Park Conservancy, the Museum at FIT and the Morgan Library.

Allison’s love of fashion has led to her being featured in several publications for her style including Elle Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times Style Section. Although it may seem odd that someone who wears a uniform enjoys fashion, the military uniform she wears has a deeper meaning because it also represents a unique expression of the history of service and the sacrifice of all those who have worn it in the past.  We are so pleased to present Allison Ecung as our latest Mover and Shaker.  Peachy Deegan interviewed Allison for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: 
What does patriotism mean to you and was it central to your family life growing up? 
Allison Ecung: 
I believe that patriotism goes beyond the love of one’s country to giving something back as well. My family has a long history of service to the United States dating back to an ancestor who served as a First Lieutenant during the Civil War. When you look at other countries, I think we take a lot of things for granted as Americans. I think it’s wonderful that so many people in New York support charitable organizations and find ways to give back to our beautiful city and great nation. 

What should everyone know about the Air Force that they might not realize? 
The majority of Air Force personnel do not fly planes; only a small percentage of officers actually fly. The rest work in a variety of career fields including finance, maintenance, manpower, legal and public affairs to name a few. 

How does the Air Force celebrate its birthday? 
Last year we had a huge celebration in Bryant Park on Thursday September 18th with a mayoral proclamation, a band and traditional cake-cutting ceremony by Major General Verle Johnston. 

What is most rewarding to you in your capacity as Captain in the Air Force? 
The most rewarding part of this career is being a part of an organization that can actually play a part in changing the world. We provide a lot of humanitarian support worldwide during natural disasters as well as emergency medical evacuation. It’s an honor to be able to have a part in those missions. 

What have you learned about politics as you study for your PhD that is applicable to your role in the air force? 
My graduate research focused on International Relations particularly in Central America. As a doctoral candidate I’ve become extremely interested in policy formation from a historical context. Most of us understand the role that history plays in creating divisions and conflict in the global society, yet they idea of forming effective policy within a historical framework is still relatively new. Anyone involved in the profession of arms should be primarily interested in conflict prevention. 

Do you have political ambitions, and if so, what are they? 

Not in the traditional sense of local or national politics. My interest has always centered on international relations and I hope to have the opportunity to continue to work in combined environments in the future. 

What do you think the most important political issues are today and why? 
It depends on whether you’re looking at foreign or domestic issues. Certainly the upcoming congressional elections will play a large part in determining our political priorities in light of world events. 

Who are your favorite fashion designers, do you know them, and why do you like them? 
I love Reagan Charleston designs right now; her jewelry and evening gowns are so unique and beautiful. We met last year in Paris and I’ve been obsessed with her stunning pieces ever since. Kim Hicks also creates beautiful couture gowns that are show-stoppers. 

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence? 
I’m influenced mostly by my family. My mother recently retired as Dean of Porterville College in California, my father was one of the first black cadets to graduate from the Air Force Academy, and my sister is completing her medical residency at Albany Medical Center. I’ve always been surrounded by examples of excellence. 

What are you proudest of and why? 
Recently I was honored to be recommended for promotion to Major. It’s the last rank my father held prior to retirement and we are both very excited for my upcoming ceremony. 

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do? 
I would relish an opportunity to work in a more combined environment with allied or NATO forces. I’ve worked with other governments in the past but you can learn so much from seeing how officers from other nations lead and what challenges they face. 

What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
One of the medals I’m proud to have earned is the Joint Service Achievement Medal for counter narcotics work with the U.S. Army in Central America. 

What one word best describes you and why? 
Strategist. I’m a planner and have been lucky enough to achieve many of my goals. I knew from the age of 7 that I was going to grow up to be either an officer in the Air Force or a Radio City Rockette. I need a few more tap lessons but wound up being the perfect height if I ever decide on a career change. 

What do you take your sense of identity from? 
My parents have always encouraged me to do my best at everything and they certainly had a large part in shaping my identity. 

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
My favorite place is sitting in my apartment window to watch Central Park and the rest of the city glowing at night. 

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? 
The Albright Fashion Library had an associated store called Mina where they sold amazing pieces from the collection. I was devastated when it closed, but I still love the Albright for their unique accessories and evening gowns. 

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why? 
Definitely someone who is a self-starter and can take the initiative on any project, but intuition, reflection, and strong verbal skills are important parts of being a Public Affairs Officer. 

What is your favorite drink? 
I’m a complete sucker for sparkling pink lemonade. I think it’s the little kid in me that enjoys something pink, fizzy and summery. 

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party? 
The most awkward thing occurred at one of the first parties I attended after moving here six years ago. I was at the Whitney Art Party wearing a new Max Azria dress that I’d searched long and hard for to ensure it was unique. When I walked in everyone stared at me, which I thought was a great sign until I realized the famous daughter of a rather wealthy industrialist was wearing the exact same thing. She was very sweet about it, brought me a glass of champagne and made sure we were photographed together. I’ve always thought it was a very classy move on her part. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 
The ambience in Chez Josephine is magnificent, it’s my favorite place to stop after a Broadway show to grab dinner. There’s such a great story behind the restaurant since it’s a tribute to Josephine Baker and is owned by her son

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature? 
I adore historical fiction and the book Forever by Pete Hamill has amazing descriptions of Manhattan over the past 300 years while drawing you into the story of an immortal trapped on the island. 

Who would you like to be for a day and why? 
A Rockette performing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, because seeing that show every year is my favorite childhood memory of New York. 

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? 
The Hall of Biodiversity at the Museum of Natural History! Pandas have been my favorite animal since I was a child and the dodo always reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. It’s my favorite section of the museum. 

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
Jogging through various parks in the city. There’s a pond I regularly pass full of turtles, ducks and geese and the same turtle is always sunbathing on a rock. It’s a very pastoral scene in the middle of the city. 

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
My favorite thing to do is walk down Fifth Ave during the holidays when snow is just starting to fall. It’s the most magical place in the world. 

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why? 
I would have dinner with my grandfather who unfortunately passed away last year. He served in the Navy during World War II and was always so proud of me for becoming an officer in the Air Force. 

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 
I adore the American Ballet Theatre and am really looking forward to the fall gala in October, which will mark the 75th Anniversary. I’m a junior co-chair for the event and its shaping up to be a truly memorable event. 

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world? 
I donate to several different charities and recently joined the New York City Mission Society junior committee. They provide fantastic programs for underprivileged children right here in New York, which I think is a very worthy cause. 

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan? 
The most underrated thing in Manhattan is the range of beautiful and historical architecture around the city from various eras. The most overrated in my opinion is probably Times Square, I see it as a collection of ads so it doesn’t really appeal to me. 

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it? 
Peachy’s Professionals for the great recommendations. 

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 
I’m a burger connoisseur, I love trying different ones around the city, and appreciate any new recommendations.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
The best email is

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