About Betty Rhoades

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Remembering and Reflecting

By Betty Rhoades, Executive Director, HillVets Foundation

On September 11, 2001, I was a senior in college. I was preparing for the next chapter – law school, though at the time I didn’t know where or what I would be studying. I didn’t have any real connection to the military. I was working as a resident assistant in a freshman dormitory for women. It was a Tuesday, which meant my classes started a bit later, so I could have a leisurely start to my day. I wasn’t normally a morning TV watcher, but for some reason I tuned to the Today Show, just as background noise while I got dressed and ready.

Or so I thought.

It was a little bit before 9 AM, and I immediately saw the smoke billowing out of the North tower of the World Trade Center. In the initial moments after the 8:46 AM impact, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer learned on air that a plane crashed into the building. Lauer called it an accident, which was certainly what I assumed. A terrible accident. I was, of course, only right about the terrible part.

At 9:03 AM, we watched live as the second plane hit the South tower. It became all too clear that this was no accident.

I’m from New York originally – on 9/11, most of my family was safe on Long Island, but there were a few who lived and worked in Manhattan. I tried to call and find out if everyone was okay, but the phone lines were already so jammed that it was impossible to get through. I started hearing my residents gathering nervously in the hall, wondering what was going on. I knew I had to tend to them first. They were just kids – scared 18-year-olds who never dreamed they’d watch their country being attacked, live on television.

I walked into campus for my 11 AM class, stopping at the student union on my way. Every TV in the building had a throng of students and faculty staring at it, transfixed by the horror unfolding. We learned that the Pentagon had been hit. We learned that U.S. air space had been shut down. At 9:59 AM, we saw the South tower collapse. The North tower followed at 10:28 AM. I went to my class, because I didn’t know what else to do. It was very clear that neither my classmates nor our professor had seen the news. I filled them in. We were dismissed, walking out of the building in somber silence, not quite sure what should come next.

In the days that followed, we learned more about the attacks. The attackers. The victims. The families. The first responders. On September 12 and beyond, there were examples of unity and national pride. There were also examples of fear, bigotry, and racism. The events of 9/11 catapulted our country into twenty years of heightened security, increased surveillance, and, of course, war. They catapulted millions of men and women into lives and careers of service and sacrifice, including my now husband, Jason, who joined the Air Force.

I’ll be honest – while I was certainly deeply affected by the deadliest foreign assault ever on U.S. soil, it didn’t really change my trajectory. I still graduated and went on to law school. I still had very little interaction with the military community. When I came to DC in 2005 and was offered a position with the Department of Veterans Affairs, I accepted the job not due to some personal connection or sense of patriotic duty, but because I simply wanted to help people.

Little did I know that one decision would completely change my life.

In the 20 years since 9/11, millions of Americans have answered the call and served our country in uniform. They joined the millions more who served prior. Since 2005, I have been privileged to serve many of those individuals and their families. In my experience, they represent some of the best of America – dedicated, determined, and generous, with a commitment to serving others that doesn’t stop when they take off their uniforms.

To my fellow civilians – those who, like younger me, don’t think about the military or veterans more than occasionally, in passing – as you remember and reflect on this monumental anniversary, think about those who stood up in the wake of tragedy and said, “I’m ready to serve.” But I challenge you to think about them not just as they were when they deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Think about them not just in their uniforms, with their weapons. Think about them not as a monolith, and not as whatever cliché comes most quickly to mind. Think about them as complex, unique, whole human beings, with a myriad of hopes and dreams and goals – just like you.

Part of why I take my role at HillVets so seriously is because these incredible people, who put their lives on the line for their fellow Americans, deserve a seat at the table. Policy professionals and elected officials have made countless decisions in the two decades since 9/11, and while we can each choose to agree or disagree with those decisions, I think we can all understand that we want the people making them to truly represent the diversity – in every sense of the word – of the American people. That has to include military-connected individuals.

In my career, I have seen time and time again the incredible good that can come from servicemembers, veterans, and their family members banding together to impact change. We need that now more than ever.

If you are inspired to get involved and help us increase the representation and impact of military-connected individuals working in public policy, I hope you’ll reach out – there is still much work to be done.

We at HillVets wish you peace as you commemorate this anniversary in whatever way is most meaningful to you. Thank you to our wonderful community – we appreciate all you do.

By |2021-09-10T16:00:50-04:00September 10th, 2021|Blog|0 Comments

Update Regarding the HillVets 100 of 2019 Tribute Gala

When the world shut down in March 2020, we hoped we’d be able to reschedule for a later date. We didn’t think “a later date” would be this far into 2021…but here we are, unfortunately, once again looking at rising case numbers and reimposed mask mandates.

In addition to the COVID-19 challenges, our beautiful and iconic venue has had to undergo some additional renovations, rendering it unavailable for the remainder of the year. Given all this, we have decided not to reschedule the HillVets 100 of 2019. We are excited to announce that the HillVets 100 of 2021 will take place on March 23, 2022, in the Hall of Flags at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Nominations will open sometime in late November/early December.

We are disappointed, of course, but we thank you for your understanding as we navigated this difficult situation. Any ticket purchases that haven’t already been refunded will be returned to you immediately (bank timelines for refunds vary greatly, but please reach out to Jena Doyle at jena@hillvets.org if you have questions or concerns).

Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help. We look forward to making the HillVets 100 of 2021 the most exciting and inspiring event we’ve hosted yet!

By |2021-09-03T13:53:06-04:00September 3rd, 2021|Blog|0 Comments

HillVets Announces Fellowship in Partnership with Wounded Warrior Project

Washington, DC (July 22, 2021): The HillVets Foundation is proud to partner with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) to present a special fellowship opportunity for a post-9/11 veteran interested in pursuing a career in advocacy and public policy. The HillVets – WWP Fellowship is unique in that the fellow will serve six months as a legislative fellow for a Member of Congress followed by a six months rotation working at WWP with the Government & Community Relations Team, making this fellowship opportunity a truly unique and powerful experience.

The HillVets – WWP Fellowship Program is designed for veterans who wish to pursue a career in government, policy, and/or politics, with a focus on issues of interest to post-9/11 veterans and their families. The Fellowship will give the selected veteran the chance to experience the legislative process firsthand, while building the necessary skills to embark upon a successful career in policy. Housing is available if needed, and a monthly stipend will be provided. Alongside our HillVets House Fellows, the HillVets WWP fellow will participate in a variety of educational, mentoring, and networking opportunities throughout their fellowship.

“We are thrilled to kick off this partnership with Wounded Warrior Project,” said HillVets Foundation Executive Director Betty Rhoades. “A program which provides both Capitol Hill and VSO advocacy experience will make an impact on the selected fellow and the broader post-9/11 veteran community. We can’t wait to see what HillVets, Wounded Warrior Project, and this fellow will accomplish together!”

“Veterans bring a perspective unlike any other to our nation’s capital, sharing their insights about their real-life needs,” said Jose’ Ramos, VP of government and community relations at WWP. “Providing veterans with the skills they need to be successful advocates and public policy champions will help the entire veteran community get critical legislation passed, and necessary reforms made. Wounded Warrior Project is proud to partner with HillVets on this fellowship.”

The application link for the HillVets-WWP Fellowship is now live and will be accepting submissions until August 10, 2021.

About HillVets

HillVets’ mission is to serve the community of veterans, Service members, and supporters in our Nation’s Capital with opportunity, mentorship, housing, peer support, and training in their pursuit of continued service in government.

About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.

HillVets Media Contact

Jena Doyle, Director of Programs and Congressional Engagement

jena@hillvets.org; 339-788-2422

Wounded Warrior Project Media Contact

Mattison Brooks, Communications Specialist

mbrooks@woundedwarriorproject.org, 202.969.1120

By |2021-07-22T11:37:51-04:00July 22nd, 2021|Media|0 Comments

Senator Bernie Sanders becomes HillVets House Ambassador

Washington, D.C. (July 19, 2021) –HillVets is excited to introduce Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) as a HillVets House Ambassador, a Member of Congress who publicly supports the HillVets House Fellowship Program. In addition, Ambassadors consider our Fellows for initial placement, as well as permanent positions within their offices. Our growing list of HillVets House Ambassadors are dedicated to helping veterans lead a successful career in public policy.
Designed for veterans who wish to pursue a career in government, policy, and politics, the HillVets House Fellowship program provides highly qualified veterans, servicemembers, and surviving family members opportunities to serve as Legislative Fellows in Congressional Offices. HillVets House Fellows network, develop relationships with peers and mentors, and gain substantive exposure and experience within all aspects of the legislative process. Through such experiences, the fellowship provides individuals with the necessary skills to find full-time employment in a policy-related position. Additionally, housing is available for veterans who need it, and a monthly stipend is given to all HillVets House Fellows. The HillVets House Fellowship also offers participants a plethora of educational opportunities.
“I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity HillVets has provided me to continue serving my country. As a veteran and a patriot, I feel an imperative for progressive veterans to enter the policy arena and fight for an American experience that truly embodies our founding ideals. For far too long, corporations have sat at the driver’s seat of American policy, coopting our military and electoral process to continually mislead Americans into believing they are the beneficiaries of policy designed to protect and promote corporate interests. The veteran experience sheds light on the real-world effects of entanglements in foreign, military, veteran, and corporate policymaking, says Essam Attia, Legislative Assistant to Senator Sanders and Former HillVets House Fellow. “The veteran voice on Capitol Hill is necessary for ensuring the men and women who serve our country are doing so in the best interest of the American people and their service is honored and dignified. The role HillVets plays in providing veterans the opportunity to continue serving our nation is critical to the success of both the country and our veterans. I am proud of my military service and honored to continue to serve the people of Vermont under Senator Sanders, an opportunity to which I owe HillVets a debt of gratitude.”
As one of the least represented groups on Capitol Hill, HillVets believes the voices of military- connected individuals need to be heard. We thank Senator Sanders for giving them and their supporters a seat at the table, as well as a chance to add their perspectives, expertise, and experiences to the policy conversation that takes place on Capitol Hill.
“It is a true honor to welcome Senator Sanders to the HillVets Community,” says Jena Doyle, HillVets Director of Programs and Congressional Engagement. “I look forward to establishing an equally beneficial working relationship with the Senator and his team, and I am excited about the possibility of finding them an incredible fellow to add to their legislative team!”
About HillVets
HillVets’ mission is to serve the community of veterans, Service members, and supporters in our Nation’s Capital with opportunity, mentorship, housing, peer support, and training in their pursuit of continued service in government.
HillVets Media Contact
Jena Doyle—Director of Programs and Congressional Engagement; jena@hillvets.org; 339-788-2422
The Office of Senator Bernie Sanders Media Contact
Freeland Ellis—Press Secretary; Freeland_Ellis@sanders.senate.gov; 202-224-5141
By |2021-07-19T16:54:53-04:00July 19th, 2021|Media|0 Comments

Congressman Tony Gonzales becomes HillVets House Ambassador

Washington, D.C. (June 3, 2021) –HillVets is excited to welcome Congressman Tony Gonzales (R, TX-23) as a HillVets House Ambassador. A HillVets House Ambassador is a Member of Congress who publicly supports the HillVets House Fellowship Program. Ambassadors like Congressman Gonzales believe in the idea of helping veterans seek a successful career in policy.

The HillVets House Fellowship Program is designed for veterans who wish to pursue a career in government, policy, and politics. The purpose of the program is to provide highly qualified veterans, servicemembers, and surviving family members with opportunities to network, develop relationships with peers and mentors, and gain experience by becoming a Legislative Fellow in a Congressional office. The Fellowship gives veterans the chance to experience the legislative process firsthand while building and developing the necessary skills needed to find full time employment in a policy related position. In addition, housing is available for veterans who need it, and a small monthly stipend is provided to all HillVets House Fellows. HillVets House Fellows receive a plethora of educational opportunities throughout their fellowship. Congressman Gonzales, and the growing list of ambassadors on our team, consider our Fellows for initial fellowship placement, as well as permanent positions within their office.

“As a veteran myself, I know how difficult the transition from active duty to civilian life can be, and it is incredibly helpful to have a supportive community like HillVets to aid in the transition process,” said Congressman Gonzales. “Our veterans and military families are also uniquely qualified when it comes to making policy as many of them have been or are still directly impacted by policy decisions from our government. I am excited to be a HillVets ambassador and seeing our community grow as a resource for our veterans and military families that want to work in Congress.”

HillVets believes that the voices, experiences, perspectives, and expertise of veterans should be an asset to the policymaking process on Capitol Hill. We thank Congressman Gonzales for joining us in our cause to increase veteran representation throughout the policy conversations that take place in Washington.

“We are delighted to welcome Congressman Gonzales to the HillVets Family!” said Jena Doyle, HillVets Director of Programs and Congressional Engagement. “Congressman Gonzales brings a unique viewpoint to Congress as a Navy Veteran and is the perfect example of how a veteran voice can be a positive addition to shape and influence policymaking. We are grateful to have him in our corner.”

About HillVets

HillVets’ mission is to serve the community of veterans, Service members, and supporters in our Nation’s Capital with opportunity, mentorship, housing, peer support, and training in their pursuit of continued service in government.

HillVets Media Contact

Jena Doyle—Director of Programs and Congressional Engagement; jena@hillvets.org; 339-788-2422

The Office of Congressman Tony Gonzales Media Contact

Paige Lindgren—Communications Director; paige.lindgren@mail.house.gov; 202-225-4511

By |2021-06-03T11:36:10-04:00June 3rd, 2021|Media|0 Comments

Figuring it Out

By Patrick Miller

In January of 2020, I had my career trajectory all planned out. I was finishing my Bachelor’s in Political Science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and had accepted a summer internship with a Senate office.  I was also turning my focus to applying for graduate schools to start in the fall. It finally felt, after a few long years of wandering aimlessly, that I had it “figured out.”

Fast forward to April and things had taken a drastic turn, as we all can remember. The COVID-19 pandemic forced courses to become remote, Capitol Hill was either cancelling internships for the summer, or shifting them to also be virtual experiences and no one knew what the summer or fall meant for academic coursework. So, I spent the summer working remotely for Student Veterans of America as a policy intern, assisting with COVID-19 response efforts to help protect GI Bill users and supporting where I could with research in the office.

Fast forward a year into the pandemic. In January of 2021 a work friend suggested I apply for HillVets, as she personally knew someone who had been in the program and felt it was extremely rewarding.  On what could be described as a whim, I applied, with a glimmer of hope that this could resurrect my hopes of going to grad school and finally working on the Hill. Even applying for HillVets reignited my ambition that had been quiet since COVID had shut it all down with quarantines, social distancing, and teleworking. I started hunting for a grad program I would want to participate in, and applying to programs in D.C. And low and behold, in late February I got the email that said I had been accepted into the HillVets House Fellowship Program!

Once again, the trajectory of my life completely shifted. Suddenly I had to work on strengthening my resume, crafting writing samples and emailing offices to build relationships for a potential placement as a fellow. I had to learn a new skillset for contacting offices, interviewing, and asking for a placement in their office. Then George Washington University accepted me into a Political Management Master’s program, and planning for grad school had to start in earnest. I had to get my life packed up and ready to move on short notice and plan two trips across the country in less than a month; one for my best friend’s commission into the United States Air Force in Oregon, and the other for the big move to D.C. to start the HillVets program. To say it was a stressful month would be an understatement.

At the beginning of April, I made the move, driving from Omaha to D.C. over the course of three days. I unloaded all my stuff in D.C. and moved into the HillVets house. I was able to meet Jena and Betty, who run the programs and house. I met the other House fellows over a week or two, and I started working in Congresswoman Susan Wild’s office.

Now it’s almost June 2021, and it feels like we’re rounding the corner of COVID-19, as millions of Americans are vaccinated or are getting vaccinated.  The weather is getting hot again, and restrictions are starting to lift across the country. What’s just as great or even better, is the fact that I’m doing work I love again, in a city I’ve been trying to get to for years, and accomplishing my personal, professional, and academic goals. It feels like I have it “figured out” again.

HillVets has really helped me get back on track, whether it was intentional or not. I was feeling lost and aimless at my last job, with no idea at how I’d get back on my planned trajectory that a year before felt as solid as stone. Within a few months though, that all changed and with it my life, demeanor, and ambition. There’s now a new trajectory for me. I’m learning the core skills necessary to become a legislative assistant, the abilities that will make me competitive for a career on Capitol Hill. HillVets will also give me the network and additional skills to make sure I meet the best people to help me look and find a job when I’ve accumulated enough skills here on the Hill. The end goal with this House Fellowship with HillVets is to be a staffer on a committee, working to make the greatest impact possible and work on substantive legislative policy.

By |2021-05-26T11:50:44-04:00May 26th, 2021|Blog|0 Comments

Congressman Barry Moore Becomes HillVets House Ambassador

Washington, D.C. (March 30, 2021) –HillVets is excited to share that Congressman Barry Moore (R, AL-2) is a new HillVets House Ambassador. Along with HillVets’ growing list of Ambassadors, Congressman Moore is a Member of Congress who publicly supports the HillVets House Fellowship Program and considers our Fellows for initial fellowship placement, as well as permanent positions within their office.

The HillVets House Fellowship Program is designed for veterans who wish to pursue a career in government, policy, and politics. The purpose of the program is to provide highly qualified veterans, servicemembers, and surviving family members with opportunities to network, develop relationships with peers and mentors, and gain experience by becoming a Legislative Fellow in a Congressional office. The Fellowship gives veterans the chance to experience the legislative process firsthand while building and developing the necessary skills needed to find full time employment in a policy related position. Ambassadors, like Congressman Moore, are committed to helping veterans seek a “second service” career in policy.

“I’m honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as a HillVets House Ambassador,” says Congressman Moore. “As a former member of the Alabama National Guard turned Member of Congress, I look forward to encouraging veterans to add their voice to the policymaking process and help Congress do a better job of serving our nation’s heroes.”

Veterans are one of the least represented groups on Capitol Hill, and HillVets believes that their voices need to be heard. We thank Congressman Moore, and the plethora of other supporting Members of Congress, for giving veterans and their supporters a seat at the table, and a chance to add their perspectives, expertise, and experiences to the policy conversation that takes place in Washington.

“The HillVets community is excited to have a supporter and House Ambassador like Congressman Moore, and we thank him for joining our mission to bring more veterans to Capitol Hill,” says HillVets Director of Programs and Congressional Engagement, Jena Doyle. “I look forward to a great relationship!”

About HillVets

HillVets’ mission is to serve the community of veterans, Service members, and supporters in our Nation’s Capital with opportunity, mentorship, housing, peer support, and training in their pursuit of continued service in government.

HillVets Media Contact

Jena Doyle—Director of Programs and Congressional Engagement; jena@hillvets.org; 339-788-2422

The Office of Congressman Barry Moore Media Contact

Katie Milner—Communications Director; katie.milner@mail.house.gov; 202-225-2901

By |2021-04-06T12:52:27-04:00April 6th, 2021|Media|0 Comments

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland Becomes HillVets House Ambassador

Washington, D.C. (April 1, 2021) –HillVets is excited to welcome Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (D, WA-10) as a HillVets House Ambassador. A HillVets House Ambassador is a Member of Congress who publicly supports the HillVets House Fellowship Program and considers our Fellows for initial fellowship placement, as well as permanent positions within their office. Ambassadors, like Congresswoman Strickland, are committed to helping veterans seek a “second service” career in policy.

The HillVets House Fellowship Program is designed for veterans who wish to pursue a career in government, policy, and politics. The purpose of the program is to provide highly qualified veterans, servicemembers, and surviving family members with opportunities to network, develop relationships with peers and mentors, and gain experience by becoming a Legislative Fellow in a Congressional office. The Fellowship gives veterans the chance to experience the legislative process firsthand while building and developing the necessary skills needed to find full time employment in a policy related position. In addition, housing is available for veterans who need it, and a small monthly stipend is provided to all HillVets House Fellows. HillVets House Fellows receive a plethora of educational opportunities throughout their fellowship.

“As the daughter of a veteran and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I fully understand the importance of ensuring our veterans and military communities have access to the resources and opportunities they deserve. I also have the distinct honor of representing Joint Base Lewis-McChord -the largest military installation on the West Coast and one of the most well-regarded military bases in the world,” says Congresswoman Strickland. “Veterans have put their lives on the line for us, and we have a responsibility to support them when they return home to civilian life. HillVets plays such a critical role in ensuring that type of transition occurs.  I’m honored to serve as a HillVets Ambassador and I look forward to continuing the crucial work to ensure our veterans are supported during and after their military careers, in whatever they choose to do.”

Veterans are one of the least represented groups on Capitol Hill, and HillVets believes that their voices need to be heard. We thank Congresswoman Strickland, and the growing list of other HillVets House Ambassadors, for giving veterans and their supporters a seat at the table, and a chance to add their perspectives, expertise, and experiences to the policy conversation that takes place on Capitol Hill.

“It is always such a pleasure welcoming new HillVets House Ambassadors to our greater community,” says HillVets Director of Programs and Congressional Engagement, Jena Doyle. “I am thrilled to establish an equally beneficial working relationship with Congresswoman Strickland and her staff, and I look forward to being able to help them find an incredible fellow to add to their legislative team!”

The Office of Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland Media Contact

Katrina Martell—Communications Director; Katrina.Martell@mail.house.gov; 202-225-9740

By |2021-04-01T11:46:21-04:00April 1st, 2021|Media|0 Comments

The Next Level

By Ursula Palmer

“What got you here won’t keep you here and won’t get you there.”

This was one of the first pieces of advice I received at the beginning of my career. I had been at my entry level job for a couple of years and didn’t seem to be able to get the promotion I thought I deserved. Within a couple of months, I was taking a real estate investment class while interning for the school’s CEO. One day, the President of the real estate school said something I’ll never forget: “the harder I work, the luckier I get.”  So, I worked hard, and a few months later, their real estate auction company offered me the position of Director of Marketing. It seemed things we’re finally working out.

Then, when I thought I had it together, my husband was severely injured while on active duty in Afghanistan and died two and a half months later.  In the blink of an eye, I had become a Gold Star Spouse, left behind with a 3-year-old daughter. She became my reason to survive. I knew that regardless of how heartbroken and depressed I felt, I had to figure out a way to show her how to survive, adapt, and move forward.

I worked for a few more years at the Real Estate Auction company, and then I found love again. I married into the military for the second time. I had to move away from a job I loved and had a beautiful baby boy who got severely sick at 18 months old, leading me to put my career on hold to take care of him. During that time, I started to volunteer for two of the organizations that had provided support during my journey as a military widow. I was now in a position to use my experience to help and advocate for others. That was extremely empowering and fulfilling.

The volunteer experience was great, but I knew I had to continue to improve myself if I was to go back to the workforce. So, I decided to get my Project Management Professional certification. Then, as I was participating in a golf program for wounded warriors, disabled veterans and Gold Star families, the organization providing the adaptive golf classes was looking for a program manager. Working with veterans and for veterans was addicting and it provided me with an opportunity to give back to those, who like my two husbands, had given so much to our country.

A few years passed, and I knew I could do more to serve the military community. That’s when I found HillVets. Their website stated that they brought together the veteran community in the National Capital Region and provided fellowship and leadership training to veterans interested in engaging in policy, politics, or government. That sounded great, but I wasn’t a veteran. So, I thought I’d ask if they would consider allowing a Gold Star spouse to participate, and they said yes! I applied to both their HillVets House Fellowship Program and HillVets LEAD program and was accepted to both.

Talk about stepping out of my comfort zone. 95% of the HillVets LEAD participants were veterans, most of them already with experience in policy. In addition, while participating as a fellow, I found that most fellows on Capitol Hill were in their twenties. Having the most important thing to undertake this adventure – my family’s support – I swallowed my pride and went to work. “Work hard, get lucky” resonated again. I kept reminding myself that this was the necessary step to gain the knowledge and experience that would allow me to better serve those I cared about. I finished the HillVets LEAD program and found an opportunity with a great office in the House of Representatives. HillVets also chose me as their fellow to represent them with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization. I learned a great deal and made wonderful friends. Then, the pandemic hit.

I had two options. Sit down and feel defeated that my Hill experience got cut short or do something about it. I started networking and keeping abreast of military and veterans’ affairs issues, policies, and developments. As I talked to people, I started to realize that others respected and appreciated my knowledge, my desire to continuously improve, and especially my most important goal – to serve. HillVets had proven to be the conduit to take me to the next level.

I am now the Executive Director of Military and Veteran Programs for Cybercrime Support Network, an organization where being a servant leader is the main expectation. And once again I know that I have to work hard because, “what got me here won’t keep me here and won’t get me there.” I will have to continue to learn and to improve. Thanks to HillVets and many other great organizations and leaders who have guided me throughout the years, I am finally at a place where I can directly help and serve the military community. Through my work, I am able to honor the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, like my late husband.

By |2021-01-11T11:02:07-05:00January 11th, 2021|Blog|0 Comments

Forward

It’s December 31st, which means that everywhere you look, there are retrospectives and “year in review” pieces, commemorating the dumpster fire that was 2020. Frankly, I’m not interested in looking backwards at this point – this year has left its unwanted mark on all of us, and while I certainly feel grateful for the people who helped HillVets weather the storm, I’d rather turn my gaze to the horizon and think about the opportunities that a new year can bring.

Regardless of your politics – remember, we are a nonpartisan organization – a new administration AND a new Congress present many meaningful opportunities for change. I look forward to placing our new Fellows into offices around the Capitol, ensuring that the voices of veterans and military family members are heard throughout the policymaking process. Despite the fact that there are fewer veterans in the 117th Congress than at any point since WWII, I hope that by continuing to advocate for their staffs to include individuals with military ties, we can increase and expand the representation of veterans on the Hill. Their knowledge, expertise, and lived experiences are supremely valuable to the legislative process!

I am also excited to meet and work with the new leaders of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. Policy work doesn’t just happen in the legislative branch, and HillVets has been fortunate to have access to “top brass” at the agencies most impacted by the decisions that our Fellows and alumni help to make on the Hill. Ideally, there will be a commitment to collaboration between executive and legislative officials, in an effort to truly make the most positive impact on the lives of those who serve and those who support them. I am confident that the HillVets community can be valuable to executive leaders as they work to develop and implement their agenda!

While we don’t know exactly when we’ll be able to gather in person again, I look forward to the return of the HillVets 100 and our monthly networking socials! You can be sure that we won’t host those events (or any of our others) until it is definitely safe to do so, but I am optimistic that 2021 will see the return of in-person networking and celebration. In the meantime, of course, we will continue to provide creative virtual and socially distanced ways for our community to connect, learn, and grow. If you are an alum of one of our programs and you haven’t completed this survey that will help us reach and engage with you better, please consider doing so!

I hope 2021 brings success and good fortune to all of our partners! Just like we saw in 2020, I know that they will work diligently to highlight and support veterans in each of their respective industries. I also look forward to forging NEW partnerships in the new year – HillVets provides tremendous value to our sponsors and supporters, and we are always working on innovative ways to link arms with individuals and organizations who share our values.

Of course, nothing magically changes on 1/1/2021, and we know that there are still difficult times ahead. So, eat that Hoppin’ John, pop those 12 grapes, dump a bucket of water out the window, smash a plate, or do whatever you do to bring luck into the new year – the HillVets team wishes you and your families nothing but peace, prosperity, happiness, and good health in 2021.

By |2020-12-31T13:17:13-05:00December 31st, 2020|Blog|0 Comments