Women’s Mentorship Program Empowers Service Members

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2014 – The Women’s Mentorship Network hosted a membership drive at Fort Hood, Texas, last week to broaden participation and send out updates for future meetings, a program spokeswoman said.

Army Maj. Heather Gunther of 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, is one of the core cadre members for the network. She said the all-volunteer leader development organization began in February 2013 as a grassroots effort, with several women at Fort Hood conducting informal lunches to discuss relevant professional development topics.

Within six months, Gunther said, groups became active in units across the installation as word of the mentorship network’s success spread.

“The women decided to expand the concept and create a formal network,” Gunther said, and on Jan. 10 and 11, the Women’s Mentorship Network celebrated its official launch with a leadership clinic facilitated by author Ori Brafman.

“Sixty women of all ranks participated in the design structure and vision — an organization for all individuals who support the mentorship of military women and aligned with profession-of-arms values: namely trust, respect, and empowerment.”

Brafman, who penned a leadership book titled “The Starfish and the Spider,” inspired the network’s dynamic mentoring objectives, which Gunther said can develop through periodic, highly structured mentorship meetings led by trained facilitators.

“Similar to classes at a gym, facilitators offer one-hour periodic meetings and follow an agenda of interactive exercises designed to engage participants as mentors and mentees,” she said. “And just like spin class or CrossFit, each session is a little different based on the mix of members, experience and energy.”

Trained facilitators will further refine objectives to establish mentorship circles as they are reassigned and deployed with a cadre of support to share resources, Gunther explained.

Though the program is still in its nascence, Gunther said, it continues to grow, with the ultimate goal being a core network of military women who provide a support system to enrich the armed forces with adaptive and resilient leaders.

She emphasized that the military will be well-served to seek out initiatives that provide adaptive leadership training.

“The membership drive promises to be a great event to further grow the network and to remain transparent about it,” Gunther said. “Its organizers and champions have enjoyed the support of their leadership throughout the formation of this organization.”

The Women’s Mentorship Network is open to all men and women — civilian and military — who support the cultivation of female military leadership through adaptive, resilient mentorship. Participation in the network is voluntary, and all events are self-resourced.

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleAFPS)

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