Columbus Defense Federal Community honors women at annual summit

By Craig M. Rader DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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Defense Supply Center Columbus hosted its annual Women’s History Month Summit and Luncheon Mar. 22 at the installation’s Armed Forces Reserve headquarters.

The summit brought together local and national women leaders in a series of workshops, panel discussions, and a presentation by a White House appointee. The theme for 2017 was “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”

Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Deputy Commander James McClaugherty encouraged the audience to draw inspiration from women leaders of the past while learning from the trailblazers of the present.

“Celebrating Women’s History Month together reminds us of the numerous contributions women have made to enrich this great nation,” he said.  “But even more importantly, our gathering today points the way forward to the remarkable achievements that lie within each and every one of us.”

During the morning sessions, a panel made up of entrepreneurs, educators and senior business executives shared their experiences and fielded questions from the audience.

Betty Collins, a business owner and panelist, urged the attendees to find motivation within their personal challenges. “I said ‘never’ my entire life,” she said. “Now I say, ‘how can I make this an opportunity?’”

Collins recounted her early days as a certified public account and later as a stakeholder in a large financial services company. She said each step in her professional development brought her to a level she had previously never expected to achieve. Over time, she learned to stop setting limits for herself and began to embrace her inner voice telling her what she couldn’t accomplish.  

An audience member challenged the panelists with a question about balancing personal responsibilities with professional duties, and ways to reconcile the two. The unanimous response was a recommendation to set goals that provide happiness in their pursuits.

A luncheon followed the panel discussion and attendees enjoyed a performance from the Ft. Hayes Arts and Academic High School Jazz Band and a stirring rendition of the National Anthem by Army Lt. Col. Clydellia Prichard-Allen.  

Jenny Yang, a commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, delivered the luncheon keynote presentation. She spoke about the importance of equality in the workplace and the challenges women in public service and government positions continue to encounter.

“We still see women being passed over for certain jobs because of deep-seated prejudices that are ingrained in our culture,” Yang told the crowd of more than 200. “We continue to see employment practices that are often based on stereotypes or assumptions, and these beliefs are often so entrenched in our society that people don’t even realize they are discriminatory.”

The top three winners of an essay contest conducted at Broadleigh Elementary School received trophies for their compositions about trailblazing women from American history. Sened Kidane won first place and recited her essay about former U.S. Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis.

The luncheon culminated with the presentation of the Women of the Year Awards. This year included 12 military and civilian nominees representing the Defense Federal Community at DSCC and its detachments.

The 2017 Military Woman of the Year was Army Lt. Col. Clarisse Scott, military deputy director of Land Supplier Operations at DLA Land and Maritime. The Federal Civilian Woman of the Year Award went to Debbie Perkins, a procurement analyst at Land and Maritime’s Warren, Mich. detachment.

Afternoon workshops included sessions dedicated to financial planning, developing resilience, and personal empowerment.

Each year since 1995, every U.S. president has issued a proclamation honoring women’s contributions and recognizing March as Women’s History Month.