Sailors attend Guam leadership symposium

by Commander, Submarine Squadron 15 Public Affairs
Stripes Guam

TUMON, Guam (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SUBPAC) tenant commands stationed in Guam attended the third annual Guam Joint Women's Leadership Symposium (JWLS) at the Dusit Thani in Tumon, Guam, March 24.

Members of Commander, Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 15 and Emory S. Land-class submarine tenders USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) USS Frank Cable (AS 40) joined more than 300 service members and civilians from the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Guam National Guard and Department of Defense (DoD) for a day-long training event dedicated to providing professional development through networking, education and mentorship.

"When this started in 2015, [the Guam JWLS committee] only dreamed about having a leadership symposium at this level and capacity with all this support," said Lt. Loumarie Chew, Joint Region Marianas (JRM) Human Resource Officer and President of Guam JWLS. "As we celebrate Women's History Month, we are honored to have such a high caliber of women in uniform stationed here on Guam to share their experiences, educate, and pass on lessons to our future leaders."

The symposium featured two keynote speakers, JRM commander Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield and Cable's Quality Assurance Department Leading Chief Petty Officer Senior Chief Electronics Technician LaToya Blaine, who spoke about personal experiences and the importance of leadership.

"It's important to understand where you fit in the grand scheme of things and know that just because you're not out on the frontline every day doesn't mean you don't play an integral part in international safety, because you do," said Blaine. "It's our job as leaders to help our subordinates understand. The number one value to your command is the people, and when it comes to leadership we have to be the example. Today, you are leaders. Every day, you are leaders. Be that mentor and show the world why we wear this uniform."

This year's leadership symposium also included two panels. The first was titled "Modern Professionalism" and discussed topics such as leadership for today's millennials, different leadership styles and non-traditional roles. The second panel, "Policies and Personal Responsibilities," covered more personal subject matter such as women's health, relationship concerns, finances and transgender personnel.

"I came in here not really knowing what to expect, and I left thinking about my next three re-enlistments," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Ashley Benjamin. "I had never heard of a symposium like this, and I wish there was something like this at my first command. It's great there is such a diverse selection of influential leaders here on Guam. Not only has the symposium opened my eyes as a leader, but the knowledge I gained through the speakers and panels today will make me a better follower."

Guam's Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo and Senator Telena Cruz Nelson, a captain in the Guam National Guard, both showed their support for the Women's Symposium. Bordallo was unable to attend but provided a pre-recorded video message where she expressed her support for the Armed Forces community and veterans. Nelson was in attendance and presented a resolution to both keynote speakers to recognize and commend them for their leadership both on-island and during the symposium.

"It's an honor for us to present this resolution to you," said Nelson. "It's necessary as a legislative body to always have a good relationship with our military partners."

Guam's JWLS began in 2013 and has been held annually in March in conjunction with Women's History Month. The leadership symposium is open to both men and women and provides a unique opportunity in Guam for service members and DoD civilians to discuss important issues and develop their personal and professional networks.

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