V-WISE San Antonio

Earlier this month I had the opportunity of a lifetime to embrace my social media skills. I was asked to take the lead on social media support for the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) Conference in San Antonio. V-WISE holds conferences in various locations across the U.S. where veteran women and military spouses come together to enhance their business ownership skills. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF – where I work) has many programs for veterans, service members and military families – V-WISE being one of the most popular ones. The Whitman School of Management created V-WISE as part of their entrepreneurship projects.

My supervisor told me V-WISE is an amazing experience because the women are so passionate and emotional about their business ideas. He was right – this was a very touching and motivational event and I know I learned a lot from it.

On the very first night, I met Rear Admiral Dawn Cutler, U.S. Navy Chief of Information – first woman to hold this position! She was acknowledged as the FIRST honoree for her outstanding accomplishments.

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The instructors were all well-known across the country and really knew how to motivate the women and provide them with the proper knowledge needed to run a successful business. It is great that they all take time out of their busy schedules to set aside a weekend and spend time discussing entrepreneurship with these incredible women.

Not only were the instructors inspiring, but so were the participants. The journeys these women have that led them to attend V-WISE is remarkable. I interviewed three featured participants – Tia Copes, a military spouse who became a grief counselor after her husband was killed in action; Lila Holley, a veteran writing books to share stories of military women in their own voices; and Tara Hutchinson, a wounded veteran who began her own jewelry business. Read more about these inspirational women here.

The last night ended with keynote speaker Nicole Baldwin, a V-WISE graduate, who had to overcome many obstacles, including tragedies, in life to get to where she is today with her business. She reminds us all to never give up on our dreams no matter what comes our way!

The final day of the conference ended mid-afternoon, so my colleagues and I went out exploring. The San Antonio River Walk is impressive! It was also great visiting the Alamo and learning more about it.

It was so fun to be part of this conference and run the social media channels! You can learn more about V-WISE at San Antonio by reading this news post, or by following the program on Facebook and Twitter.

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VA Secretary visits SU campus

So this is not related to the weather at all, but I had to blog about this moment! U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald visited the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF – where I work) and other places on campus. We had a staff photo taken with him and I had to make sure I was in the front :)!

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I always geek out when well-known or famous people are around me. My friend Kellie, who I worked with at Fort Benning, always got excited about people visiting too. We got to meet Capt. Kristen Griest together. I definitely miss her being around for events like this!

Before he came to IVMF, he spent time and talked business with the IVMF’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities-SU 2016 cohort at Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse. He also received a “Real Veterans Wear Orange” shirt! (Side note: check out #EBVSU10 on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram – it was EBV’s 10-year anniversary this year and we celebrated by featuring some veterans in the program. Very inspiring stuff! Glad to work at a place where I know I am helping others. Read more about the 10-year anniversary celebration here – be sure to watch the tribute and thank you videos – they are amazing and show the impact EBV has had on veterans and their families!)

After McDonald met the leadership team and got a photo with us at the IVMF, he did a presentation on “Values Based Leadership” at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at SU. Watch the video below to learn more about his presentation and visit.