By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Heather W. Hines, Navy Region Southwest Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- More than 1,300 service members gathered for the 2011 Joint Women's Leadership Symposium at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina March 15-16.
Sponsored by the Sea Service Leadership Association (SSLA), the two-day event attracted service members from all five branches of service. This year's theme was, "Connect. Empower. Succeed."
"Each of you have come here for your own different reasons, but I hope you all have come to discover some of the secrets to success," said Kristin Arnold, keynote speaker of the "Achieving Career Success" panel.
Prior to becoming an author, trainer and speaker, Arnold was one of the first female graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Academy. She retired after serving 11 years active duty, and an additional 10 years in the USCG Reserve.
"Given the wisdom in this room, I know there are some best practices that you do on a daily basis that have made you successful. These are the things you need to share with one another and use the event to network, network, network," Arnold said.
Arnold directed the audience to turn to their neighbors and share some of their own traits of success to further emphasize the importance of teamwork and networking.
"My accomplishments have come from the success of my team. I've always been a fan of empowering people not just in the word, but truly empowering them and giving them the opportunity and the accountability that goes with it," said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, director of Reserve and Leadership, a symposium panelist.
Stotz was also a participant on a general officer's panel, which featured high-ranking females from all branches of the armed forces. The panel answered questions ranging from women serving in combat to dual-military couple concerns, and operational pregnancies.
According to Major Gen. Tracy Garrett, commanding general, 4th Marine Logistics Group, challenges exist when service members decide to expand their families.
"I imagine there are many of you here who are married and who are wrestling with the choices of when [or]whether to have children," Garrett said. "We came into the military with a high ideal and want to continue to serve, because we want to do it well. It shouldn't be that if you make a choice – which is something common in our culture – to become a mother, that you are somehow sacrificing that high ideal."