DISA Joint Service Provider hosts first Women’s History Month Brunch
by Amy Agenbroad
Joint Service Provider
April 11, 2022
Last month the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Joint Service Provider field office organization hosted its first Women’s History Month Brunch to honor women within the organization and celebrate their accomplishments.
The brunch began with remarks from DISA Joint Service Provider Director Navy Rear Adm. Brian Hurley and Business Administration and Strategic Communications Branch Chief Lorna Reese.
“Inclusion brings innovation and changes of excellence, which is crucial to enabling our mission,” said Hurley.
Hurley and Reese commended the organization’s commitment to diversifying the field office organization, citing women in cyber programming, mentorship for women in the military and women in leadership positions – all of which are critical to the organization’s mission of operating and defending the Department of Defense's critical IT infrastructure for the Pentagon and providing IT solutions to more than 55,000 mission partners.
Following the welcome remarks, the group heard from a variety of speakers who shared what Women’s History Month means to them, their path to get to where they are now and why we need to keep pushing for progress and putting women in leadership positions.
DISA Joint Service Provider Senior Enlisted Leader Army Sgt. Maj. Rebecca Wilkinson discussed the challenges she faced as a woman holding leadership positions in the United States Army, and how she persevered through the uncertainty of being a woman in a male dominated field.
Seeing little female representation in the upper echelons of the military, Wilkinson originally felt intimidated, but by taking risks, she had the opportunity to learn from great mentors on fantastic assignments.
She emphasized that throughout her career, she was able to push through challenges and embrace being uncomfortable. Wilkinson advised the group that being uncomfortable is where you grow the most, saying “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Continuing the empowering brunch, Cyber Program Management Branch Chief Alyson Underwood promoted the need for mentorship. In Underwood’s career, men and women have encouraged and challenged her to not give up and strive for the impossible.
Working with diverse co-workers allowed Underwood to gain new perspectives and help pave the way for future leaders. She stressed the importance of not only having a mentor, but to be one for others, especially to women and girls who may be interested in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Mentors also exist outside of your career. Underwood says her biggest supporter has been her mother who has encouraged her to go after her mission and paint her own destiny.
The final speaker was Leah Palmer, the only woman center chief at DISA Joint Service Provider. Her advice for the group was to “always be yourself, you’ll have more luck if you stay true to who you are.”
Like many during the pandemic, Palmer embraced and reflected upon who she is and her own communication style. Throughout her career she has learned the importance of communication and the need to adjust and adapt to each situation to effectively communicate and drive positive change.
Rosie Riveters Executive Director Brittany Greer closed the brunch with an inspirational speech about the positive impacts Rosie Riveters has on girls ages 4-14 by encouraging them to stay involved in STEM. Rosie Riveters focuses on the productive struggle and supporting young women as they strive for their goals.
"It’s okay if you don’t get it right, but you need to keep trying,” she said.
DISA Joint Service Provider will remain committed to honoring our nation’s trailblazing women and continue paving a path for future generations of women leaders.
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