Women In Defense Strengthens Women Leaders Through Mentorship
With an aim to cultivate and support the advancement and recognition of women in all aspects of national security, Women In Defense was established to provide women a formal environment for professional growth through networking, education and career development. Women In Defense is an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), which represents all facets of the defense and technology industrial base and serves all military services. This affiliation gives WID members a source for defense industry information, increased networking opportunities and professional contacts and an expanded scope of informative programs.
The WID Mid-Atlantic Chapter’s focus is to “Strengthen Women Leaders Through Mentorship.” The Chapter envisions expanded mentoring opportunities for members’ career advancement through an active mentoring program by supervisors in the workplace. “The mentor-mentee relationship is essential for women leaders to grow and develop their unique talents, and this can be accomplished by increasing supervisors’ – male and female alike – participation in our program events,” says President Sharon Jacobs.
Jacobs was recently inducted as president of the local chapter. In October at the Water’s Edge Event Center in Belcamp, new officers were named: President, retired Lieutenant Colonel Sharon B. Jacobs; Vice-President, Sarah Lobos; Secretary, Anne Mackin; and Treasurer, Susan Manning.
This year’s annual Real World, Real Work, Real Women (RW3) Symposium is subtitled, “The Triple Threat” arming attendees with knowledge on education, networking and career development. The Mid-Atlantic Chapter will bring national and university leadership programs to Harford County to educate members. The RW3 Symposium is an all-day event planned for May 7 at Waters’ Edge. Registration will open in March.
Additionally, on the horizon, the Chapter is expanding its STEM outreach initiatives to elementary age students in grades K-5 through participation in the Engineering is Elementary program in coordination with Harford County and Cecil County Public Schools. The Chapter will hit the greens at Ruggles Golf Course in April for the She Golf Clinic, preparing members for the Annual Golf Tournament co-hosted with Northeastern Maryland Technology Center on June 1 at Winter’s Run Golf Course in Bel Air. Lastly, the Chapter deployed a new sponsorship initiative for defense industry, business owners and individuals. The three sponsorship levels are “Supportive,” “Empowered,” and “Invested” for Women
Women In Defense began in 1979 as the brainchild of seven dynamic women who met for dinner at the conclusion of a major trade association conference. At that time, they discussed the idea of starting an informal network to assist participants – especially women – in expanding their knowledge of national security issues and of the national defense community in which they participated.
While the first membership list in 1981 boasted 47 names, Women in Defense now has over 4,000 members. With the downturn of the defense industry in the 1990s, Women In Defense re-examined its mission and charter and decided to expand its focus to include all aspects of national security, which would open membership to non-defense organizations. This expanded focus caused the organization to add to its name the phrase “A National Security Organization.” The group also established the HORIZONS Foundation to award scholarships to those pursuing higher education that would lead to a career in national defense and national security and has awarded over 100 scholarships. I95