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Posts Tagged ‘Joining Forces Mentoring Plus’

Benefits of Mentoring for Women Veterans

Posted by YWM on May 7, 2014

Testimony of Dawn Smith, Joining Forces Mentoring Plus mentee, before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business, May 7,2014.

Dawn SmithMr. Chair, Madam Ranking Member, and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here today. My name is Dawn Smith. I am the Founder and CEO of Mystic Reme Teas in Greenville, South Carolina, and testifying today on behalf of Business and Professional Women’s Foundation.

As a woman veteran who recently started my own business, I hope my experiences can be helpful to the committee as you examine which government and nonprofit programs can best assist and meet the unique needs of women veterans as they transition back to civilian life.

I am very proud of my military service. I served in the Air Force for eight years and was deployed six times to Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and Germany. My expertise in the military was logistics, which means I was responsible for making sure that the movement of both troops and cargo got to the right place and were on time. In both Iraq and Afghanistan I was a Terminal Operations Manager responsible for processing and loading more than 7,000 passengers and directing the shipment of hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo. My work was consistently recognized for meeting excellent delivery and departure standards. I also earned my MBA while in the military.

Because of my advanced logistics experience and MBA, I really didn’t think I would have a problem finding a rewarding career when I left the service. But when I returned home to North Carolina to raise my children on my own, I was not even considered for management jobs; instead, I was offered positions like a warehouse worker, which I did not think utilized my skills, education and experience. For a couple of years I took various jobs that did not fit my background including working as a high school teacher and secretary since I needed to feed my children. These jobs offered neither the career I was seeking nor the salary commensurate with my experience.

BPW JFMPlogo.lowWhile working, I continued to look for a more rewarding and financially secure position. I returned to school to begin a master’s program in accounting. But looking for a job while managing the demands of work, school and motherhood, I became discouraged. I knew I needed help, so I turned to the internet to see what career resources might be available for a woman veteran. I was very fortunate to find Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, a non-profit organization that runs a free career mentoring program for women veterans, Joining Forces Mentoring Plus®. What attracted me to their program was that working women volunteers mentor women veterans (like me) to help us navigate a path to successful civilian careers, and even pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Participants can access a free “high-tech/high-touch” internet community that includes experienced women mentors as coaches, navigators and supporters.

I immediately signed up and was assigned a wonderfully accomplished mentor, Sandy Smith. Sandy worked with me one-on-one and was persistent in offering advice and support on everything from interviewing skills to resume development. She pushed me, checking on how many resumes I sent out each day. She helped me create a new mindset that gave me the courage to apply for positions that previously I wouldn’t have thought possible. In 2012, I was hired as an auditor by the U.S. Defense Contract Audit Agency. I am happy to report that my salary at this job was twice what I had been making previously. After landing the job, Sandy, my mentor, did not leave me on my own but coached me on office etiquette and protocols necessary to successfully navigate the civilian sector workplace. All of Sandy’s mentoring and coaching paid off: I love my job and feel my career is now on very solid ground.

But even though I love my job, I have always dreamed of owning my own business. With Sandy’s encouragement and sustained mentoring last year, I started an online store that sells my own brand of tea. I am very excited that Mystic Reme Teas is currently in the final selection round to appear on Shark Tank. If I am chosen, I will be seeking funding to open my own tea bar.

I truly believe none of this would have happened without the personal mentoring and wide array of career resources offered by BPW Foundation. It was so successful for me because it was designed by and for women. Generic veteran-based employment and career development programs too often miss the unique elements and needs that matter most to women veterans. We need awareness and guidance about available support and employment resources, and programs that support and recognize the multiple roles impacting women veterans and their access to jobs.

I can attest to the fact that women leaving the service often face unique challenges including single motherhood or care giving for family members, including wounded warriors. Also women veterans often do not identify as veterans and don’t know they can access a wide array of benefits. We are frequently looked at differently from our fellow male veterans. Women who served in war zones are often not afforded the same level of prestige as their male counterparts.

Thanks to the generous support of BPW Foundation and its partners such as Alliant Credit Union Foundation, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cengage Learning, Citi, CVS Caremark, and others, there is no cost to participate in this mentoring program – it’s absolutely free for the women who participate.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my story and tell you about the resources that helped me begin my successful career and start my business. I hope that other women veterans will benefit from my experience and that the committee will support programs that are tailored for the challenges and needs that our women veterans face as they seek meaningful lives after our time in the military

Click here to read Dawn’s full testimony

Posted in Career Advancement, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Small Business, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by YWM on December 10, 2013

BPWFoundationlogocolorBusiness and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation has been awarded a $35,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman.

Newman’s Own Foundation generated seven grants totaling $300,000 as part of its “Honoring Women Who Serve” campaign to support career development for female veterans. Through BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus program, women veterans receive unlimited free online career development tools, resources, and confidential guidance from volunteer working women mentors to help them identify and pursue civilian career paths.

“It is indeed an honor that Joining Forces Mentoring Plus has been selected by Newman’s Own Foundation to receive this grant.  These grant dollars will directly impact and support women veterans as they make the often challenging transition from military to civilian careers,” said Roslyn Ridgeway, BPW Foundation Board Chair and JFMP mentor .

Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ is a FREE, “High-Tech High-Touch” national mentoring program using both one-on-one contact and a sophisticated on-line platform of resources for women veterans. Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ is based on a career development model that can be used by women of all ranks, eras, and skill levels. Mentorships and resources extend beyond job attainment to support job retention and career advancement.

 “There is no greater sacrifice than serving and defending our country,” said Robert Forrester, Newman’s Own Foundation President and CEO. “We aim to provide for the ongoing needs of military personnel and their families, both during deployment and after their return. We are pleased to award this grant to BPW Foundation as they endeavor to make a difference in the lives of female veterans.”

The six other nonprofits receiving grants are: Every Woman Works; Swords to Plowshares; Veterans, Inc.; Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania; Women’s Business Development Center; and Women, Food and Agriculture Network.

Overall, Newman’s Own Foundation is awarding $7 million in grants over three years, 2012-2014, to more than 50 organizations across the country that deal with veterans’ issues such as health, housing, education, career development, and family support.

Paul Newman, the actor and philanthropist who founded Newman’s Own, passed away on September 26, 2008. Now, five years later, his legacy continues as Newman’s Own continues to give away 100% of the profits and royalties from the sale of its food products to charity. Since the company’s founding in 1982, over $380 million has been donated to thousands of organizations, with $125 million having been donated in the past five years alone.

Posted in Career Advancement, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Recognizing where you are and where you want to be!

Posted by YWM on September 25, 2013

By Kelly McCarthy

During my 25 years in the beauty industry, I never would have thought that I would become the Leader I am today. This industry has provided me with the life skills needed to be a better person, daughter, sister, employee, leader and mentor.

My role as a mentor began naturally as I began leadership early in my career. I displayed qualities of leadership that others saw in me. I didn’t see them however. I was thrust into many decision making positions and I did my best based on “common sense”. However I found that my “common sense” and another individuals “common sense” are very different and my experience began as a “Trial by Error” leader. Then I found my mentor!

I have since learned to manage my intentions and focus on what I want or need my end result to be. As I began to learn new tools in communication and networking, I began to grow and shine. I have helped lead many companies down a path of success but more importantly I was able to do that one person at a time. I have had the pleasure of leading teams as large a 100+ and as small as 14. My network of incredible people that I have helped and have helped me has grown to numbers I cannot count, however I never take it for granted nor do I feel like I have reached my peak!! There is much more I can do for myself and for others and much more I have to learn!
About 7 years ago I made a decision to begin the search to find a position within the beauty industry that allows me to accomplish personal and professional goals while supporting and mentoring others. I found the perfect match 5 years ago when I decided to become a Dean of Paul Mitchell the School, a cosmetology school.

I now provide support and guidance to hairdressers in training as well as my amazing staff of educators and administrators. We don’t only focus on the technical skills involved to become a hairdresser or salon owner, we also provide life skills, social emotional learning, community awareness, networking and professional development skills that allow a person, no matter how old, find their calling. This is where I love to be.

When looking for an organization to volunteer my time to, I found the search very difficult! I have been searching for almost 2 years and then I realized what I needed to do! Inspired by my brother, a veteran of the Marines, who is struggling with PTSD, my decision was made. He has challenged himself to transition back to a “new normal” and I have watched his accomplishments and his setbacks. That is when Joining Forces Mentoring Plus popped up on my internet search!

So you can say it was meant to be! I look forward to beginning a path of giving back to all that have gave so much. If my professional and personal skills that I have learned and developed through my years as a female professional can assist another woman in accomplishing their personal and professional career goals, I’m in!

I specialize in positive thinking, understanding thoughts and how to manage intentions as well as recognizing where you currently are and how to establish solid goals. Then I can assist in helping you take the first step toward achieving them! Understanding what you value in life and then recognizing whether or not you current routine of behaviors actually are supporting one another!

I have much to give yet much to learn from any mentee and look forward to building healthy relationships!

Posted in Career Advancement, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Mentoring, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Joining Forces Mentoring Plus to Support Caregivers of Wounded Warriors

Posted by YWM on July 18, 2013

BPW JFMPlogo.lowBooz Allen Hamilton and Business and Professional Women’s Foundation have announced  a partnership to support women veterans and military/veteran spouses as they navigate the path to success in the civilian workplace. This new partnership enlists women who work at Booz Allen Hamilton to connect with women veterans and military/veteran spouses and create sustaining “high-tech, high-touch” mentoring relationships.

Booz Allen Hamilton-Joining Forces Mentoring Plus partnership will also include an important new focus on caregivers of wounded warriors. These women face unique challenges in adapting their lives—and employment—often either abandoning successful careers to become full-time caregivers to their disabled loved ones or re-entering the workforce to assume responsibility as primary breadwinners.

Booz Allen’s interest in reaching out to caregivers of wounded warriors grew out of the company’s involvement at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where employee volunteers noted the gap in support for the family members and loved ones attending to the needs of their wounded warriors. Executive Vice President Robin Portman, who serves on the Advisory Council that assisted in the development of BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® , immediately saw the opportunity to expand the program’s resources to embrace caregivers. “Military Caregivers serve our nation each day by providing round-the-clock emotional and physical care to our American heroes,” says Portman. “Booz Allen’s partnership with the BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® program will support these hidden heroes whose challenges are virtually unseen.”

“We are very excited about the range of expertise and value-added that Booz Allen Hamilton will bring to Joining Forces Mentoring Plus®, and to the women veterans and military/veteran spouses they will assist,” said Deborah L. Frett, BPW Foundation CEO. “These women veterans, military/veteran spouses, and caregivers will benefit greatly from the passion and extensive knowledge Booz Allen Hamilton women employee mentors can share,” Frett said, noting that Booz Allen’s consulting practice includes both federal and corporate clients in myriad industries. “We are proud to welcome Booz Allen Hamilton as a Leadership Partner and look forward to working with them and learning from—and alongside–them.”

Booz Allen Hamilton-Joining Forces Mentoring Plus will enlist mentors from the company’s diverse population of women employees across the country to be trained as mentors to serve thousands of caregivers and spouses who make daily sacrifices to care for and support their service members. This initiative will spotlight women among Booz Allen Hamilton’s numerous efforts to support military veterans and their families with career opportunities, community partnerships, and services tailored to meet the unique needs of the greater military community.

In addition to regular meetings with mentees, Booz Allen Hamilton mentors will utilize a custom portal within BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® internet platform, which provides mentor training and a wide range of resources, information, and subject matter experts to support them as mentors.

Posted in Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Mentoring, Military Families, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ During Women’s History Month

Posted by YWM on March 26, 2013

Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation’s career and employment support initiative for women veterans and military/veteran spouses, Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™, was saluted by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Administration at Women’s History Month events honoring the contributions of women veterans on Tuesday, March 19.

During the morning, BPW Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Joining Forces Mentoring Plus partners, and guests participated in the White House Champions of Change: Women Veterans program where 14 women, including Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ Advisory Council members and Community/Resource partners, were recognized for their contributions during and following military service. In her remarks, the First Lady recognized BPW Foundation “for the exceptional work that they do every day for women’s veterans.”

BPW/MD member Susan Horst, Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught (ret), President, Women in Military Service for America Memorial and BPW Foundation Chair Barbara Henton

BPW/MD member Susan Horst, Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught (ret), President, Women in Military Service for America Memorial and BPW Foundation Chair Barbara Henton

That evening, women veterans were honored at a VIP-packed reception hosted by BPW Foundation at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial (WIMSA). Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught (Ret), Founder and President of WIMSA, welcomed the women veterans in attendance, acknowledging the diversity of branches, eras, ranks, and ages represented. BPW Board of Trustees’ Chair Barbara Henton recognized WIMSA as “the perfect setting to honor our women veterans’ histories and celebrate their futures.”

 Bringing a personal message of gratitude from President and Mrs. Obama, Tina Tchen, Special Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady, thanked every woman veteran for her service. Speaking on behalf of Secretary Erick K. Shinseki, Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Steve L. Muro reiterated the VA’s commitment to women veterans and pledged continued support of Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ to facilitate veterans’ civilian reintegration. Attendee Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for

Tina Tchen, Assistant to President Barack Obama and Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama

Tina Tchen, Assistant to President Barack Obama and Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama

Veterans Employment and Training Services Keith Kelly reiterated his strong support for programs supporting women veterans.

Velma Hart, BPW Foundation Treasurer, welcomed the oldest living woman veteran, 105 year-old LTC Luta Mae Cornelius “Cornie” McGrath, who joined the Army in 1943, before the Women’s Army Corps was even established. Others present who play important roles in BPW Foundation efforts on behalf of women veterans included Women Joining Forces Advisory Council members Major General Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris (Ret), Director of the Center for Women Veterans at the VA, Brigadier General Evelyn “Pat” Foote (Ret), Glenna Tinney , Advocacy Program Coordinator for the Battered Women’s Justice Project, Linda Spoonster Schwartz, Commissioner and Commandant, Connecticut Department of Veteran Affairs, US Air Force (Ret), and Ginger Miller, founder of Women Veterans Interactive and a Joining Forces Community Resource Partner.

Steve L. Muro, VA Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs and BPW Foundation CEO Deborah L. Frett

Steve L. Muro, VA Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs and BPW Foundation CEO Deborah L. Frett

BPW Foundation CEO, Deborah L. Frett invited every Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ program mentor, mentee and subject matter expert to step forward: “These women make our program a reality. They embody BPW Foundation’s mission: working women helping women work. And they are the reason that this program is enabling women veterans to succeed in civilian careers.”

Command Sergeant Major Michele S. Jones (Ret), the first woman U.S. Army Reservist to reach that position, joined Deborah Frett to toast women veteran guests, stating that her “most important title that evening was Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ mentor.”

BPW Foundation recognized and thanked the evening’s sponsors: Alliant Credit Union Foundation, Booz Allen Hamilton, Dell/Intel, the DeLonais Foundation, CVS Caremark, ASAE CareerHQ.org, and Capital One.

Posted in Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Uncategorized, Women Veterans, Women's History Month | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Meeting the Needs of Women Veterans Where They Are

Posted by sherrysaunders on March 16, 2012

Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation announced that Women Veterans Interactive (WVI), a Maryland based organization meeting the needs of DC Metro Area women veterans and their families, has been designated a Community Partner in Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus™.

WVI brings a fresh interactive approach to supporting women veterans through diligent advocacy efforts, research, policy engagement, networking, collaborations, community support, and peer to peer interaction. WVI is dedicated to addressing the needs of women veterans.

Founder and CEO, Ginger Miller said, “Our goal is to serve the whole women veteran by meeting her at her point of need, while providing her with housing options, support services and interaction.”

“BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ will fill a critical need by matching women mentors with women veterans who are receiving assistance from Women Veterans Interactive.  Working together, Women Veterans Interactive and Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ will help these veterans face employment and career challenges so they can move toward successful civilian careers” said BPW Foundation CEO Deborah L. Frett.

Ginger Miller, herself a veteran and formerly homeless said, “We believe in giving women veterans the respect they have earned and we are dedicated to working alongside these women to facilitate their path to independence. We also are working to help eradicate homelessness among women veterans and seek ways to prevent it.”

Studies have shown that many factors make transition harder for woman veterans, including, lack of awareness and/or unavailability of veteran’s benefits, legal issues, military sexual trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, service disabilities, divorce/separation, domestic violence, lack of family or social support networks, and substance abuse.

The 1st Annual Empowerment and Unification Brunch Cruise for women veterans sponsored by WVI will sail from National Harbor, MD on March 18 and will celebrate women veterans during Women’s History Month.  The cruise is a community outreach tool for 150+ women veterans who will engage in peer to peer interaction and obtain information on services and support available through the VA and nonprofit organizations. In addition to being a Cruise sponsor, BPW Foundation is providing funds to sponsor 20 women veterans to attend the cruise at no cost, and will be on board providing mentoring information.

The goal of the cruise is to strengthen and enlighten women veterans as they learn about some of the essential components needed for self sufficiency and economic stability which will help bridge the women veteran unemployment gap.

“Being able to tap into the Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ network of women mentors and subject matter experts will be invaluable for these women veterans and offer them important resources. We are excited to join BPW Foundation as a Community Partner in Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ and we know that this partnership will support women veterans, which is our organizations’ mutual goal.”

Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ is connecting women veterans of all eras with volunteer working women mentors across the U.S. whose personal and professional training has prepared them to provide insights, advice, and encouragement to women veterans,” Deborah Frett said. “Working together, volunteer mentors will help steer their mentees on individualized courses of action to succeed in the civilian workplace. Women Veterans Interactive’s commitment to women veterans and their families is an extraordinary example of serving those who have served. This is an ideal partnership, and we look forward to helping to meet the needs of women veterans together.”

BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus™ was developed following the October, 2010 Joining Forces for Women Veterans Summit, which found the need for informed, committed mentors to position and assist women veterans as they search for new employment, hone their career goals, and package their military skills and experience to gain access to meaningful civilian jobs.  First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden highlighted this “mentorship gap” when they applauded BPW Foundation’s mentoring initiative as part of the White House’s national Joining Forces effort.


Women Veterans Interactive was created last year to meet all women veterans at their specific point of need, with a concerted focus on wellness and empowerment and homelessness. A division of John 14:2, Inc., Women Veterans Interactive (WVI) brings a pioneering, interactive approach to supporting women veterans and their families through policy engagement, community support, mentoring, and advocacy.  http://www.john142vets.org/womenveterans/womenveteransinteractive.html


Posted in Career Advancement, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Mentoring, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »