Women took center stage during the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s fifth annual Women’s Leadership Forum at the Swabian Special Events Center on Patch Barracks March 27.
More than 130 women and a few men turned out to network and hear from civilian and military leaders representing U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, Marine Forces Europe/Africa, 52nd Signal Battalion, and USAG Stuttgart.
The forum was sponsored by the USAG Stuttgart Equal Employment Opportunity Office’s Special Emphasis Committee.
The garrison’s Special Emphasis Program promotes equal opportunity in the hiring, advancement, training and treatment of women, minorities and individuals with disabilities. Each year the EEO Office analyzes the on-board federal workforce of the commands and agencies in the Stuttgart military community. “We want to see the numbers of women in higher ranking positions grow,” said Eshe Faulcon, an EEO specialist who oversees the program.
The forum aims to equip women with knowledge and tools to advance in their careers. “It’s also an opportunity for women to connect with each other,” Faulcon said.
This year’s theme was “Aspiring to lead, inspiring to empower” with presentations and workshops designed to motivate participants to do just that.
The morning keynote speaker, Army Brig. Gen. Jody Daniels, AFRICOM’s deputy director for the Intelligence and Knowledge Development Directorate, emphasized the importance of taking risks, challenging oneself, and not being afraid to make mistakes.
“At times I could not see myself doing things; I had supportive leaders and mentors who’d say, ‘Jody, you should go for that,’ so I’d focus my energy toward reaching that next goal,” said Daniels, whose career spans more than 30 years of active and reserve service.
“I realized that I did not have to know everything in the beginning of each new challenge, but that I needed to learn and become the best I could be in every job. That is my advice to you — being the best gives you credibility and increases your confidence,’ Daniels said.
Vice Adm. Charles Martoglio, the EUCOM deputy commander, took time from his busy schedule to offer participants his “10 leadership rules for success.”
Inspiring speeches from accomplished leaders was just part of the agenda. Attendees rotated through four workshops covering financial readiness, professional and personal growth, networking, and leadership.
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Teresa Schorer, the first sergeant for AFRICOM, facilitated the leadership workshop for a second time.
“Because of my own network someone reached out to me and asked me to do this a couple of years ago. It was a great experience for me, and because of all the positive feedback, I was asked to do it again this year. I love doing it, and it really demonstrates how networking and leadership go hand in hand,” Schorer said.
Jessica Snowden, an intelligence policy analyst for AFRICOM, led a workshop on leadership and excellence specifically for the 20 Patch High School students in attendance. Selection to attend the forum was competitive, with students nominated by their teachers.
“It’s been very inspiring and is helping me think more about what lies ahead,” said senior Victoria Shealy.
Following light refreshments, senior leaders participated in a moderated panel discussion. Rhonda Diaz, AFRICOM’s deputy director of resources; Vivian Turnbull, AFRICOM’s assistant director of Intelligence for Operations Support and Defense Intelligence Agency senior representative; Kathleen Cole, the USAG Stuttgart deputy to the commander; Lt. Col. Michaela Coughlin, an intelligence operations officer from Marine Forces Europe/Africa; and Army Maj. Cassandra Owens, the 52nd Signal Battalion executive officer, shared their perspectives on leadership.
“What you did to get where you are may not be what you need to get to your next position. Seek the environment where you always have to be learning, and remember that it’s important to focus on your successes instead of second guessing yourself,” Turnbull told the audience.
The final speech of the day was presented by Terri Kondos, AFRICOM’s National Cryptologic representative, who focused on the progress women have made in the workplace and the challenges that lie ahead, primarily with establishing and maintaining priorities that represent the best balance for what most women value – family, as well as work.
The forum concluded with an awards presentation to women in federal service who exemplify leadership. The five winners were selected from more than 30 nominations.
Vivian Turnbull received the Legacy Leadership Award.
Kelly Sarles, with USAG Stuttgart’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation directorate; and Sgt. 1st Class April Smith, with the Defense Information Security Agency Europe, were honored with the Leadership Achievement Award, given to those who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made an impact in their organization.
Recipients of the Emerging Leader Award were Jennifer Smith, also with Family and MWR; and Spc. Patricia Hanson with the Army Medical Command, for their demonstrated leadership potential and commitment to service within the federal government early in their career.
To continue its commitment to forum participants, the SEP committee has two upcoming employment-related workshops planned. Leading with Confidence, Power and Integrity will be offered April 30 from 9-11 a.m. in Building 2307, Room 217, Patch Barracks. Advance registration is required. The deadline to sign up is April 28.
Playing to Your Strengths: Your Wisest Career Investment will be held July 17 from 9-11 a.m. in the EUCOM conference room, Building 2307, Patch Barracks. Register by July 15.
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Editor’s note: S.J. Grady also contributed to this story.