32nd Annual Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium Hosted in Washington, DC

JWLS September Press Release
Media Contact: Abigail Kelly, akelly@susandavis.com, 202-414-0782

Washington, DC (September 13, 2019) – The Sea Services Leadership Association (SSLA) brought together over one thousand service women and men at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC on August 22 and 23 for the 32nd annual Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium (JWLS). The symposium is the largest gathering of women in uniform worldwide and welcomed servicewomen and men from all Department of Defense branches and the U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, international representatives and civilians to directly address the issues faced by those who serve.

With a list of well-known speakers including 23rd Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James; Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, first African American and first female leader of the Maryland National Guard; Lt. Gens Laura and James Richardson, only married three-star generals in the U.S. Army; and Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock, U.S. Marine Corps, first African American female Marine General Officer, this year’s symposium focused on the theme “Building Bridges, Changing Culture.” The program offered a wide range of professional development and leadership seminars, keynote speakers and workshops preparing women to excel in the military of today and tomorrow.
Sgt. Maj. Robin Fortner, USMC; Brig. Gen. Jill Farris, USA; Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock, USMC; Command Master Chief Marisol Dumalo, USN; Col. Bebe Hollingshead, USAF; and CWO Bethannie Kittrell, USCG speak on the Women’s Leadership Panel at the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium in Washington, DC on August 22, 2019. (Photo by Andrew Noh Photography)
Capt. Martha LaGuardia Kotite, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.), SSLA’s Coast Guard Representative and JWLS co-chair, highlighted the many firsts for women in the military this year in her opening remarks and set the stage for the day’s events which inspired attendees and provided the chance to hold open conversations about leadership in the military and concerns of those who serve. The symposium offered panels on family and health; sexual harassment; culture on the frontlines; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; and an international panel with representatives from Sweden, Denmark and Australia. Some of the panels can be viewed here.

The program also included past symposium agenda favorites including the Annual Awards Ceremony, where fourteen servicemembers and civilian employees from all service branches were honored for their leadership and accomplishments throughout their careers. The Senior Leaders Panel was another returning panel comprised of leaders from all five services who talked about their experiences in the military and answered questions from attendees seeking to move up in rank.
Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, USAF (Ret.) presented Air Force leadership awards to recipients during the Annual Awards Ceremony at the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, August 22, 2019. (Photo by MC1 Sarah Villegas)
Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, USAF (Ret.) presented Air Force leadership awards to recipients during the Annual Awards Ceremony at the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, August 22, 2019. (Photo by MC1 Sarah Villegas)

In addition to the two-day symposium, SSLA hosted their second annual Women Veterans Career and Transitioning Seminar on Wednesday, August 21 for service members preparing to retire and transition to a civilian career. The seminar presented guest speakers with insight from their personal transitions as well as a panel of pro-military civilian employers and a panel of women veteran authors on how they told their stories.

“For 32 years, the Sea Services Leadership Association has been proud to host the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium, the premier professional and personal development conference for women in the military,” said Marine Lt. Gen. Lori Reynolds, Sea Services Leadership Association’s Chairperson of the Board. “Again this year, we left encouraged and empowered by the mentorship, wisdom and networks that were developed through this incredible event. We look forward to Norfolk in 2020!”

More photos from the event can be found on SSLA’s Flickr page. Photo Credit (unless otherwise noted): Andrew Noh Photography. More photos are available upon request. To request an interview with a member from SSLA’s Board of Directors, please contact Abigail Kelly, akelly@susandavis.com, 202-414-0782.

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