Written by Lt. Carolyn S. Mahoney
More than 40 Coast Guard members traveled to Reno, Nevada, from all corners of the country to attend the 2018 Women in Aviation International Conference in late March. Reno, dubbed “The Biggest Little City in the World,” welcomed aviators and others in the industry as they flocked to the 29th annual gathering, which rotates annually between four locations. The four-day general aviation event fosters opportunities for mentorship, career planning, networking, education, and recruiting.
The first day focused on Coast Guard leadership initiatives, open dialogue to discuss career planning and growth, panels for conversation revolving around diversity matters and social issues, family planning experiences and guidance, among other topics.
“I believe our junior members benefitted greatly from the one-on-one mentorship opportunities, and I found several panelists along with my own personal mentoring experiences really valuable,” said Peña. “This event is a must-attend for those looking to learn and grow in our aviation community.”
In the three days following the Coast Guard’s initial kickoff, attendees participated in general aviation events by visiting booths and displays, attended educational sessions of their choosing, and interacted with others involved in the wide-reaching aviation community.
Coast Guard volunteers facilitated a recruiting booth and strove to spread Coast Guard inspiration at the “Girls in Aviation Day” event. While motivating young girls to pursue their aviation passions, attendees echoed their own sentiments.
“My experience was motivating and inspiring and I walked away with several new friendships!” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Juliana Harrison, an avionics electrical technician from Sector Columbia River. “I attended the mentoring and educational sessions where I listened to experienced women talk about leadership, diversity, and inclusion which I can take back and share with my unit. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend.”
Lt. Julianna White, from Air Station Miami, furthered by saying, “I am forever grateful to those who broke barriers so that I may do what I love: serve and fly.”
As Women’s History Month drew to a close, conference attendees returned home with renewed vigor, broadened knowledge and understanding of our history, hopefulness for the future and legacies yet to come, and an overwhelming desire to share what they learned with their Coast Guard unit, their friends, and their families. New relationships began at the conference and are the foundation on which our service strength will continue to grow.
“It was great to see a large number of our new aviators at this year’s conference,” stated Senior Chief Petty Officer Karen Voorhees, leading chief petty officer at Air Station Sacramento. “Almost all of the enlisted were [third class petty officers], and I think that they built new friendships and contacts that they will keep throughout their careers.”
Voorhees and other experienced leaders continue to pass the torch of wisdom and knowledge, intentionally grooming our service with pride. Coast Guard attendance at 2018 Women in Aviation International conference was a phenomenal success for all involved, and participation by our members in similar events continues to strengthen our Coast Guard as a whole.