May 25, 2017
On May 18th, 50+ women veterans gathered in San Francisco for The Mission Continues’ second annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit. These women have been impressive agents of change in their communities, using our programs to their fullest potential and beyond.
The weekend, focused on professional development, networking and self-care, was packed with panels, workshops, inspirational speakers and even meditation exercises. Of course, we had a service project — because no Mission Continues event is complete without one!
This year’s keynote speaker was Jackie Reses, the Chief Human Resources Officer of Square and CEO of their business financing branch, Square Capital. Square Capital enables merchants to grow their small businesses and empowers entrepreneurs, including minorities and women, to become successful on their own terms.
This is the second time we’ve done the Summit, and we’re excited to see that this is an effective way to support women veterans. Over the years it has become clear that women veterans participate in our programs at higher rates than expected. While women make up only 16% of the military, women veterans are continuing to serve though the Fellowship Program, the Service Platoon Program, and our newest Mass Deployment program at a much higher rate of 30-40%.
We took this as a sign that we were doing something right — cultivating a culture where veterans of all kinds feel respected by the community, valued by the organization, and comfortable being their authentic selves.
Summit attendees were hand-selected active members of The Mission Continues’ programs who were enacting positive change in their communities. These highly motivated individuals don’t stop striving to do and be more!
Participants expressing interest in the Summit voiced their eagerness to learn as much as they could in order to better help their community. One participant wrote, “I want to make it a goal to use the skills and information I learn at the summit and initiate more projects for TMC and for the community that showcase the breadth and importance of women leaders.”
Jenna Pursley, a fellowship alumna who was hired by her host site Refugee Focus, a branch of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, said she hoped the Summit would help her be a better leader at work. “I currently work at a nonprofit refugee resettlement agency, and would love to share stories of success in helping the community with those I work with. I try to be an example and to inspire others with my own stories of deployment and the transition back to civilian life, and being exposed to more women like me would help me to broaden my perspective.”
While the challenges veterans face are underappreciated and misunderstood, the challenges of women veterans often go completely unseen. Our HerMission campaign is an effort to give due recognition to women veterans for their accomplishments and empower them to accomplish even more. The annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit is the centerpiece of these efforts.
We are honored to be able to continue this work for years to come, thanks to the support of donors who believe in the abilities of women veterans. Our goal is to make it so that more women veterans can grow to as leaders of impact in their communities.
Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.