On May 12, 2017, Homefront Rising returned to D.C. at Holland & Knight LLP for yet another full-day of non-partisan education, training and networking for military spouses interested in routing their careers toward advocacy and public service. The morning began with a warm welcome from Homefront Rising co-founders, Donna Honeycutt, Mary Reding Smith, and Lauren Wittenberg Weiner, who were all able to provide a history of Homefront Rising and the influence of Homefront Rising’s training on military spouses nationwide.
The first panel of experts kicked off discussing advocacy and how your skills could be used to identify important issues affecting your life or community. Joyce Raezer of National Military Family Association, Megan Paone of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and Ashley Broadway-Mack of the American Military Partner Association shared their expertise. Roundtable discussions included how to address fear of retribution within your advocacy space; how to build bridges with organizations; the importance of networking in order to spark the constructive dialogue of the issues you are passionately trying to advocate for; and challenging yourself to self-identify as a military spouse in order to be an agent of change for your cause.
The second panel included speakers that discussed “mastering your message”, or more effectively communicating your message. These experts, including Politico’s Meredith McPhilips and former VA Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Rosemary Williams, provided tips that they have learned through their media careers, including how to build an online presence, realistic expectations when interacting with journalists, the importance of personal reflection prior to broadcasting your message, and cues that can be taken from corporate branding in order to self-promote yourself and your cause. The panel also reviewed how to pitch and chase news stories, how to obtain PR and media coverage for yourself, and the top 5 “Do’s and Don’ts” when managing the media.
The afternoon had a strong lineup of advocates, a state representative, legislative staff, communications/PR professionals, former government officials, and political insiders. The agenda broke up sessions into both panelist and small group discussion formats. Attendees learned why military spouses are uniquely qualified for public service—as advocates or elected officials—and were provided resources and tips as to how to engage decision makers in order to accomplish their advocacy goals. Erin Miller, who successfully advocated for legislation allowing Women Airforce Service Pilots from WWII to be buried in Arlington National Cemetary, shared her story and advice on achieving goals. Political insiders, like Carol DiBattiste, former Under Secretary of the Air Force, shed light on their previous experiences within the public service sector and explained how military spouses can apply Homefront Rising training to service in today’s political environment. The day was capped off with a presentation from Homefront Rising alumna and Washington state senate candidate Jinyoung Englund, including a Q&A session for attendees interested in hearing how she came to the decision to run for state office as a military spouse.
Attendees left feeling inspired and ready to tackle the issues faced by military families and our greater communities. Keep an eye out for military spouses stepping up to lead across the country!
For more information about this initiative, please visit the Homefront Rising page.