MSJDN’s 2016-2017 leadership team – including the Board of Directors for both MSJDN and the Military Spouse JD Foundation, as well as MSJDN Committee Chairs – met on June 11th and 12th at the historic Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia for a weekend of strategic planning. It was a productive and inspiring two days as our organization prepared to continue its growth and success with licensing efforts, membership programs, pro bono efforts and much more.



From left to right: Karen Scanlan, Erin Noble, Katherine Goyette, Josie Beets, Libby Jamison, Eleanor Vuono, Gabriela Nostro, Johanna Thibault, Elizabeth Hanning Smith, and Sarah Ford.

The leadership team entered the weekend with broad goals, including strengthening interpersonal connections with our members, increasing transparency within the organization, and expanding support for our members. We discussed at length utilizing the unique skill sets of those who wish to volunteer, planning for fundraising and continued growth, cultivating the future of our pro bono program, and shaping the vision and mission for the organization.  Those goals were addressed through creative conversations and brainstorming sessions throughout the weekend.


Notes, laptops, and coffee… three essentials for the weekend strategy planning meeting among your leadership team.

Saturday involved a nuts and bolts training to get your new MSJDN leadership current on the governance, membership, and financial facets of the organization and the Foundation. We also used this time to bond to help foster relationships among the Board members. With a Board made up of military spouses stationed literally throughout the world, the organization is a truly “virtual” board. Our communications are almost exclusively online as we utilize one of our many virtual tools. The Strategic Planning Retreat is one of the rare times of the year where we get to work face-to-face on all things MSJDN.

The Board reviewed our organization’s successes over the past several years including our increasing membership, the expansion of our pro bono program – Justice for Military Families – and the successful adoption of licensing accommodations in 19 jurisdictions. The Board discussed how to continue effective advocacy for licensing accommodations, incorporating lessons learned in states where adopted rules include provisions that do not necessarily help our members.

The organization has experienced a great deal of success to date, yet there is still much work to be done. In addition to committing to maintain and improve upon goals already in place, the leadership team created a strategic plan for the coming year that includes, among other things, continuing to develop events for members at the local and national levels, collaborate with leaders at the national, state and local levels, and continuing to update and improve our online presence to best support our membership. The Board also discussed the results of this year’s annual survey of its members. Moving forward the Board commits to conducting such a survey annually in order to effectively serve our member and our community.


Stephanie Brown coaching the leadership team on how to effectively work together to strengthen the organization from the top down.

MSJDN’s Board was also honored to have Stephanie Brown, a visual facilitator and graphic recorded, facilitate a discussion about leadership. The Board discussed a white paper about the Boston Marathon bombing and the leadership lessons learned, Crisis Meta-Leadership Lessons from the Boston Marathon Response: The Ingenuity of Swarm Intelligence. Even though MSJDN does not operate in an environment anything remotely like the horrible attack at the Boston Marathon, much of how we operate as leaders is reflected in the idea of “swarm leadership,” which the paper covers in detail and identifies five tenets that apply. The Board learned, among other things, how to keep a “unity of mission”, to adopt “respect for authorities and lanes”, and to keep egos in check when executing a well-versed delegation model. More importantly, however, the MSJDN leadership learned the importance of building relationships and fostering trust among each other and our members.


Leadership Graphic compliments of the lovely Stephanie Brown.

The weekend was a positive experience for our leadership team and the beginning of what promises to be another exciting year for MSJDN.  Our organization runs on volunteer power and we always welcome our members to participate in the future of MSJDN. Reach out to a committee or a board member for more information on how to get involved!