FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC – Thursday, May 26, 2022
HillVets is proud to announce that Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) has signed on as our newest HillVets House Ambassador. HillVets House Ambassadors are Members of Congress who publicly support the HillVets House Fellowship program and consider HillVets House Fellows for placement in their office to undertake substantive policy work. These Ambassadors are committed to assisting the military-connected community lead successful and impactful careers in the public policy realm.
HillVets House Fellowship (HVHF) program provides Veterans, Service-members, and surviving family members who wish to pursue a career in government, policy, and/or advocacy, the opportunity to serve as a Legislative Fellow in a Congressional office. Fellows develop relationships with peers and mentors while gaining substantive exposure to and understanding of all facets of the legislative process. Taking part in such experiences provides individuals with the necessary skills to find full-time employment in a policy-related position. Furthermore, HillVets offers safe, furnished, free housing for any of its Fellows who need it, as well as a monthly stipend. The HillVets House Fellowship program also provides numerous ways to broaden a Fellow’s professional network and a plethora of educational opportunities.
“I’m proud to be a Congressional Ambassador for HillVets,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This is an excellent program that helps ensure veterans can leverage their experience and expertise to continue to serve our country through a career in government. I’ll continue to support veterans in my office, in my state, and across the country.”
HillVets believes that the voices of military-connected individuals need to be heard throughout the policymaking process. It is with the help of Senator Cortez Masto and our other HillVets House Ambassadors that we are able to provide them with the chance to contribute their lived experience, knowledge, and perceptions to the issues that most impact them.
“It was such an honor to meet Senator Cortez Masto and welcome her as a HillVets House Ambassador,” said Jodi Harman, HillVets Director of Programs & Communications. “We look forward to the day we place a capable, motivated HillVets House Fellow into her office.”
HillVets’ mission is to serve the military-connected community in and around our Nation’s capital with opportunity, mentorship, housing, peer support, education, and networking in their pursuit of second service in government, and the HillVets House Fellowship program is but one path we utilize to fulfill it.
By Betty Rhoades, Executive Director, HillVets Foundation
May 4th is Star Wars Day (“May the fourth be with you” – get it?), so it’s a good day to remind folks that leadership lessons aren’t limited to just real-life people and organizations. If we choose to, we can learn all kinds of things from the fictional characters we admire – and even the ones we don’t.
In my opinion, the greatest leader in Star Wars canon is General Princess Leia Skywalker Organa Solo – and yes, ALL her titles and names are important. Here’s why:
* She was fearless AND empathetic – Leaders are always asked to accept and manage a certain amount of risk. Leia understood this, and she never hesitated to grab a blaster or pilot a speeder through the forests of Endor. But to be effective, leaders can’t be blowing things up (literally or figuratively) 100% of the time – they also have to relate to the people around them, to make those risks more palatable. Leia understood the pain of loss, whether it was her home planet or her son, and she was able to use that to empathize with the people she led. That empathy engendered loyalty and trust among her team, which of course made them more willing to follow her into proverbial battle.
*She was a master communicator, whether she was inspiring her team or sassing her adversaries – Leaders need to be able to convey a variety of messages, both at the individual and team levels. Leia could move seamlessly from strategic discussions to inspirational speeches to one-on-one instruction and guidance. She even communicated deftly with her enemies, distracting and misleading them. No matter the circumstances, Leia was able to craft clear, compelling messages – a skill that effective leaders must master, even if they’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.
* She knew how to delegate and how to motivate – As much as I’d like to believe that Leia could have saved the galaxy all by herself, she was much more self-aware. She often delegated tasks and gave others their chances to shine. Delegation is as much about talent development as it is self-preservation, and Leia was also able to adjust her approach to bring out the best in a variety of colleagues. For instance, Leia’s interactions with her brother Luke focus on tactfully acknowledging his emotions and gracefully pointing the way. In contrast, when she engages with Han Solo, Leia often chooses direct, borderline insulting language – but hey, I guess it worked out okay for her and her favorite stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf-herder (okay, maybe her language in that case was more than borderline insulting).
* She had rock solid belief in her team, her mission, and her badass self – No matter the odds or the plot twists, there was never any question that Leia was dedicated to the greater good. She was laser-focused on her mission, and she exuded confidence that inspired her team, even when the going got tough. Leia was an absolute Jedi master at straddling the line between assurance and arrogance, which then gave the other rebels the confidence that they, too, could make the galaxy a better, safer, more just place. It may seem simple, but this kind of conviction is hard to come by – and she demonstrated it even at the darkest of times.
Pretty impressive, huh? Oh, and Leia did ALL of that while people underestimated her (at best) or actively degraded her because she was a woman. And she did SOME of that while dressed in a supremely uncomfortable gold bikini (don’t even get me started).
Now…will someone get this big walking carpet out of her way?
Who are your favorite fictional leaders?
WASHINGTON, DC (Dec. 8, 2021) – Today the HillVets Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) announced U.S. Navy veteran Kirsten Laha-Walsh as the recipient of the inaugural HillVets-WWP Fellowship.
“Kirsten Laha-Walsh is the perfect choice to be the first HillVets-Wounded Warrior Project Fellow. As a Navy veteran and caregiver for her retired Marine Corps spouse and Purple Heart recipient, she has a passion for empowering and supporting wounded veterans,” said HillVets Foundation Executive Director Betty Rhoades. “Kirsten just completed the HillVets LEAD program as part of Cohort 6, and we are so proud that she has chosen to continue her public policy and advocacy training. We’re humbled that she has put her trust in HillVets and Wounded Warrior Project, and we know she will make a big impact on the military-connected community.”
Announced earlier this year, the HillVets-WWP Fellowship is unique in that the fellow will serve six months as a legislative fellow for the U.S. House For Country Caucus, a bipartisan group of members of Congress who are all U.S. military veterans. The fellowship will be followed by a six-month rotation working at WWP with the Government & Community Relations team. The fellowship is open to post-9/11 veterans interested in pursuing a career in advocacy and public policy.
“After a fantastic experience in the LEAD Cohort, I was inspired and excited to move on to this incredible fellowship and partnership,” Laha-Walsh said. “I look forward to continuing to advocate for military and veteran families and learn about macro policy on the national level.”
Laha-Walsh served in the U.S. Navy, where she worked as a hospital corpsman, specializing as a respiratory therapist. She provided both outpatient and inpatient support for active-duty members, dependents, and beneficiaries while serving as a non-commissioned officer. Prior to her service, she worked in the entertainment sector focusing on logistics and coordination.
“We’re excited for Kirsten to take part in this fellowship, which will help make her an even stronger advocate for our nation’s veterans,” said Jose Ramos, WWP vice president, Government and Community Relations. “We hope she will be the first in a long line of next-generation advocates for our military service members and veterans who benefit from this partnership.”
Laha-Walsh is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Work at the University of Alabama focusing on the military and veteran-affiliated populations.
“She is a frontline leader who leads with her head and heart,” said Dr. David L. Albright, University Distinguished Research Professor and Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health Research at The University of Alabama, and Director of the Office for Military Families and Veterans at the School of Social Work. “Kirsten will be an asset as she is committed to the mission of the social work profession to enhance human wellbeing and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with a focus on military and veteran families.”
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
Betty Rhoades, Executive Director
Wounded Warrior Project Media Contact
Ed Frank, Senior Public Affairs / Communications Specialist
UA social work Media Contact
Nicholas Finch, Communications Specialist