Leadership forum empowers local women

More than 100 women gathered in the Swabian Special Events Center on Patch Barracks March 29 for the fourth annual Women’s Leadership Forum. 

This year’s theme was “Unleashing your Potential and Impacting the World.”
The forum, sponsored by the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Equal Opportunity Office Special Emphasis Committee, aimed to bring women together to discuss job opportunities, strategic career planning and professional development, according to Yasmin Rosa, U.S. Africa Command Equal Employment Opportunity manager and Women’s Leadership Forum action officer.

“We would like to give women tools to succeed and become leaders in the federal workplace — we need powerful women,” Rosa said.

The forum offered workshops that focused on communication, leadership, networking and career development. The workshops were lead by female military and civilian leaders from the Stuttgart military community, according to Rosa.
Between the workshops, senior military and civilian leaders shared their experiences with participants and answered questions on how to develop strategies to advance career opportunities.

 Kathleen Y. Marin, Installation Management Command Europe regional director, opened the forum as the keynote speaker.

Marin, who with 30 years of civil service has held positions ranging from an administrative officer to deputy garrison commander to director of installation services, emphasized the importance to “move sideways” or to “take a step back” to broaden one’s personal way.

“It’s important to know yourself, be yourself and grow yourself,” Marin said. “Be happy with your choices or change them, and always try to balance your personal and professional life.”

Other speakers included Lt. Col. Krista A. McKinley, Marine Forces Africa assistant chief of staff, and Michele R. Weslander Quaid, chief of Google’s  technology office.
All three women stressed that a woman’s professional decision can affect her personal life in many ways.

Often times, women would like to pursue their careers, but must make decisions on what’s important for them as mothers and wives.

Maj. Kristy Perry of the 52nd Signal Battalion was able to relate.
“Women have a different view, and they also have to face different challenges when they think about advancing their careers,” Perry said. “That is why I am participating in the forum today — to meet other professionals and learn about their strategies.”

Perry also motivated two of her male civilian colleagues to attend the forum, since both have daughters. She wanted them to experience the “female” perspective.
The forum allowed women in the community, whether employed or seeking employment, to meet and engage in networking.

“The forum helps women to grow a network, see who’s out there, hear different stories and get a new perspective,” said Kedra Segler, who works for the USAG Stuttgart Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division.

Segler also emphasized that with almost every profession represented, attendees had a great opportunity to learn about different work fields. “I have more goals now … and know of more educational options and available training to think about my own career path,” Segler said.

 For the first time ever, the forum hosted a teen workshop for Patch High School students to introduce them to job-search basics, such as resume writing, interview techniques and “dressing for success.”
One teen was already strategizing.

“I am hoping to learn about techniques that I can utilize in the future and also to get an idea on what path I should take later in life,” said Rebecca Hoenne, 16.
The idea for the teen workshop came from Vonda Kenion, USAG Stuttgart Civilian Personnel Advisory Center director.

According to Kenion, the workshop strived to give students direction, teach them how to react in a professional setting and present themselves in a professional manner. “We would like to prepare them for their next step in life,” Kenion said.