by Capt. Winnie Tan
133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
4/28/2015 - ST. PAUL, Minn. -- More
than 300 Minnesota National Guard members gathered for the first Joint
Female Professional Development Training Symposium at Metropolitan State
University here, April 18, 2015.
This symposium was designed to open the window for females to have the
same opportunities as their male colleagues, who have historically been
offered more opportunities for professional training, mentorship, and
networking in the military.
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," said Kalberg.
"I thought that in order to be successful in this organization, I had to
never, ever speak about my experience as a woman."
She also 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," she said."
State leaders in attendance were 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, as well as
senior leadership from Minnesota Army and Air National Guard units.
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.
"I have nothing but great things to say about the symposium," said Staff
Sgt. Alyson Welter, a 133rd Airlift Wing Airman. "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!"