Minnesota National Guard encourages female career growth and development through symposium

  • Published
  • By Capt Winnie Tan
  • 133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Minnesota National Guard leadership emphasizes diversity at every level to ensure that the mission is met with the best-qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender.

More than 300 MNNG members gathered for the first Joint Female Professional Development Training Symposium at Metropolitan State University, a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon company, April 18, 2015.

Historically, males have been offered more opportunities for professional training, mentorship, and networking in the military. This symposium opened the window to females to have those same opportunities.

The keynote speakers were Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger, the Air Force's first female four-star general and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Cynthia Kallberg, former MNNG Senior Enlisted Advisor. Both shared insights on making it to the top of a male-dominated organization.

Wolfenbarger spoke about her experience, the challenges she faced along the way, and the importance of having a healthy work-life balance. She spoke on the importance of putting due diligence into the things that you want after your career ends. For her, family, friends and health were priorities so that is where she put her energy.

Kallberg focused on the evolution of including women in the military over the decades. "I spent a lot of years in my career trying to get people to not focus on the fact that I was a woman, and focus on my skills. I thought that in order to be successful in this organization, I had to never, ever speak about my experience as a woman."

She highlighted the significance of the symposium and emphasized the importance of women sharing their military experiences, making it easier and more normal for the next generation. "This event today is so significant, because, I believe it's important for women to share their military experiences, to make it easier and more normal for the next generation."

Leaders from the state attended to include Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, Brig. Gen. Robert Cayton, the Chief of Staff and Air Component Commander for the MNNG, and Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Wortham, the MNNG Senior Enlisted Advisor, among many other senior officer and enlisted leaders from both Army and Air National Guard units.

Alyson Welter, a staff sergeant from the 133rd Airlift Wing said, "I have nothing but great things to say about the symposium. My biggest take away from the whole day was listening to General Wolfenbarger. Her words were very inspiring and I walked away feeling empowered and positive. All in all, it was a great day!"

The day also included breakout sessions to promote growth and development in the areas of skills advancement, communication, career mapping, being a leader, and competing in the arena.