Lucy Margaret Gile, daughter of MSJDN President Dawn Gile, depicted here with Dawn’s husband, SGM DJ Gile

There can be no doubt that this year has been an extremely challenging year for this country as many, including our nation’s President, have suffered and are continuing to suffer from a widespread pandemic. Nevertheless, even in the darkest of days, there have been some silver linings and causes of celebration. For me personally, our family joyously welcomed the arrival of our third daughter, Lucy Margaret Gile in late August. Lucy was named after her great-grandmothers Lucille and Margaret but also in honor of the suffragist, Lucy Burns. This year marked 100 years since the 19th Amendment was passed, and consequently, it provided an opportunity to reflect upon the sacrifices of women’s rights activists like Lucy Burns, who was imprisoned and tortured in the fight for universal suffrage. Sadly, that reflection continued as we mourned the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazer and fierce advocate for gender equality (in addition to being a military spouse attorney!). Despite that sadness, we can (and must) celebrate the incredible advances that women have made over this past century.

As for MSJDN, like other nonprofits, we have had to creatively reenvision much of our programming this year due to the impact of COVID-19. Despite those challenges, I have been exceedingly proud of how our leadership has continued to serve our members as well as the greater military and legal communities. For example, we recently kicked off our Making the Right Moves professional development conference, that our events director Michelle Richart has worked tirelessly (along with our coordinating vendor, Bossed Up) to organize and promote. Normally this event is held in person, but it was redeveloped as a virtual multi-session event. We were initially hesitant of this format given the now ubiquitous “Zoom fatigue.” However, we have been thrilled with the overwhelming excitement for this event. For example, our opening reception was a fireside chat between Amy Smith, executive at Boeing and spouse of MCPON Russell L. Smith, and me. Among the incredible feedback we received on this session was: “Amazing. Honestly, I logged off and felt inspired and empowered and I don’t remember the last time I felt that way after any kind of conference. Truly excited for the rest of the events.” This kind of feedback is so reassuring and heartwarming to our all-volunteer board who spend countless hours behind the scenes running MSJDN.

Additionally, one of the silver linings of hosting a virtual event is that many members, who would otherwise not be able to attend due to geographic distance, are now able to tune in. In fact, we now have over 100 registrants! Such an overwhelming response has caused us to consider how we could add a “virtual” element to all future events, once we are able to hold in-person events.

And finally, we are thrilled to announce that fomer Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden has agreed to join our lineup of fabulous speakers. Dr. Biden is the founder of Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative in support of servicemembers and their families, that among other things, sought to expand and promote employment opportunities for military spouses. Dr. Biden’s attendance is a credit to the great work that MSJDN has done in the area of military spouse employment and occupational licensing, and we are so excited she will be joining us. If you have not already registered for Making the Right Moves, there is still time to register!

(Note: MSJDN is a nonpartisan organization, and while we’d encourage you to be like Lucy Burns and vote, we do not endorse any political party or candidate.)

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