Moving forward, just not sure where we're going, but at least we're having a swell time when we do it.
The second day of the symposium was just as full as the first. We broke from the joint environment and had sessions with our respective services.
After the opening remarks, I attended the Senior Enlisted Panel. This panel had 4 of the 24 female Master Chiefs and one of the many male Master Chiefs. On the panel were MCPO Leilani Cale-Jones, MCPO Lisa Starliper, MCPO Alexandra Muhly, MCPO Julie Gunderson, and MCPO Jason Vanderhaden. I attended a Senior Enlisted Panel while attending the Chief’s Academy, all the panelists were men. It was so amazing to see these women speaking on behalf of all enlisted members. It was good for the junior members in attendance to see these women so they might recognize that E-9 is something they can achieve.
The next session was dedicated to Enlisted Personnel Management. Transfer season is almost upon us and you can tell by some of the questions who is thinking about their upcoming transfer. Transfer season is probably one of the most stressful events for any military member. EPM discussed the challenges in getting women leaders at all units that have women. I would hope a woman can get mentorship from either gender, but I do know that it is nice to have someone who can identify with. (Most of my mentors have been men and at times I did find it challenging expressing to them my experiences but you can make it work.)
We had Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin join us to discuss women in peacekeeping. They played off each other nicely, however the topic seemed a bit large for these two ladies. I would have liked to hear from a woman more intimately involved in peacekeeping.
For lunch I got to catch up with CWO Patricia Holmes who blogged with earlier. She and I worked together at District Seven. An interesting note CWO Holmes was the first female E-7 or above that I worked directly under, she was CPO Holmes at the time.
After lunch we got a brief by Air Force Col (ret.) Jennifer Hesterman. She had some good refreshers on taking care of yourself and how to establish yourself as a mentor.
After that panel the seats began to fill up because we would be hearing from our Commandant, Admiral Robert Papp. He warmed up the audience by sharing some of his sea stories as he grew up in the Coast Guard then he opened the floor up to questions. They were tough questions and though he did not answer them directly the answer was appropriate for the audience.
I had the pleasure of meeting the MCPO-CG Michael Leavitt after the Commandant finished his address. He was curious about how things were going with the Navy. I let him know things were great but we are trying to get more Coast Guard attendance at the school. (Hopefully this will help us get some more visibility.)
The day ended with speed mentoring. I had been in the hallway chatting with some folks when it was about to start. I was heading to one group when I was redirected to another group that needed a Senior Enlisted person. I sat down and asked who was mentoring us, and everyone pointed to me. I have to admit I still feel shocked that I was the one doing the mentoring because all of the women in attendance have so many great experiences to share.
It was an amazing symposium. If you have not attended please consider coming next year. It was great meeting and hearing from women leaders from all over the world.