SSLA Symposium Provides Leadership and Growth

Story Number: NNS090622-08Release Date: 6/22/2009 3:04:00 PM
A  A  A   Email this story to a friend   Print this story
By Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- More than 600 people gathered in Washington for the 22nd annual Sea Services Leadership Association (SSLA)Women's Symposium to learn about professional development for women in the sea services June 18-19.

The theme of this year's symposium was "success strategies for the week, the year, and your career." Guest speakers included Dee Dee Myers, the first female White House Press Secretary, and Vernice Armour, the Marine Corps' first African-American female pilot.

Many of the Navy's most senior ranking women were in attendance, including Rear Adm. Carol Pottenger, commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command; Rear Adm. Wendi Carpenter, commander, Navy Warfare Development Command, Norfolk; Rear Adm. Ann DeBaets Gilbride, director, National Marine Intelligence Center; and various other female flag officers, command master chiefs and diversity directorate leaders.

Sponsored by the Navy's Office of Women's Policy, SSLA is one of many conferences that the Navy encourages service members to attend.

"I think that all of these kinds of opportunities should be capitalized upon by people at all rank structures," said Carpenter, who emphasized that these conferences are beneficial to men as well as women.

"We talk about things that are not only of concern to women, but for the men who come to these events, as well."

The conference began with the presentation of the Capt. Joy Bright Hancock awards, designed to honor women who provide visionary leadership and work to further integrate women in the Navy and Marine Corps.

"This gives us an opportunity to celebrate each other's accomplishments, especially our younger women and can motivate others to be out there making an impact, making a difference," said Carpenter.

SSLA, originally established in 1978 and formally known as the Women's Officer Professional Association, has expanded to include enlisted service members and brings together people from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. SSLA also provides a forum for discussion of issues of interest affecting women in the sea services such as work-life balance, childcare and on-going recruitment efforts.

Membership in SSLA is open to men and women and gives opportunities for mentoring, networking and access to educational resources.

"This experience has been absolutely phenomenal, just to hear from these senior women who started at the bottom and aspired to a higher rank, and listening to how they dealt with discrimination and now they are a hero for every junior Sailor, Coast Guardsmen and Marine," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Dana Williams Cochran, assigned to Naval Hospital Jacksonville.

As diversity is a top priority for the Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy sponsors many professional development events such as this one. For more information about diversity in the Navy and other affinity groups, visit

For more news from Pacific Fleet, visit

Navy Social Media
Sign up for email updates To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please click on the envelope icon in the page header above or click Subscribe to Navy News Service.