Whether commanding deployed military units or being stationed in a war zone, women continue to play a critical role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recognition of their unwavering leadership and service, female veterans who served during these wars will be honored with Legacy of Leadership Awards during the seventh annual Spelman College Leadership and Women of Color Conference, May 11-12, in Atlanta.
In keeping with this year’s theme, “Reset: Sustaining Women for 21st Century Leadership,” keynote speaker Soledad O’Brien, CNN anchor and special correspondent, will help pay homage to more than 10 outstanding women who have successfully sustained themselves during and after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The veterans who will be honored have exceptional military careers. Retired Brig. Gen. Velma L. Richardson, U.S. Army, the first African-American selected for promotion to general in the Army Signal Corp. During her military career, she oversaw communications-system training of thousands of combined forces, serving during the first Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan.
Col. Elvia D. Gaines-Edmond was responsible for more than 180 transition teams dispersed throughout Iraq during combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. 1st Class Cynthia Regina Harmoncompleted two tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan and has received 11 commendations. Retired Col. Deborah Scott Thomas, U.S. Air Force Reserve, served her country for more than three decades, providing support during both Iraq wars and the war in Afghanistan.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to be recognized in such a significant way for serving my family, community and country,” said Col. Scott Thomas, an aeromedical evacuation operations officer, who executed the safe movement of patients during wartime missions.
Preparing for her military career, Sephora Fortune, C’2011, battalion commanding officer of the Morehouse Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, appreciates the honorees’ achievements.“Their legacy is my motivation and my challenge,” said Fortune. “There are certain territories in the military I am going into, and to see how they have overcome the barriers in this field, it gives me motivation that I can overcome and be successful as well.”
The Legacy of Leadership Awards celebrates the accomplishments of individuals and organizations making significant contributions to shaping the destinies of past, current and future generations of leaders. The awards dinner, held on the first night of the conference, is an elegant evening of memorable entertainment, outstanding speakers, and inspiring stories of leadership.
The dinner is a highlight of the annual Spelman College Leadership and Women of Color Conference, which assembles experts from the private and corporate sectors to provide proven strategies to enhance essential leadership skills. The 2011 conference will offer best practices to help women achieve personal and professional sustainability. For more details, or to attend the dinner or the conference, visit www.spelmanwomenofcolorconf.com and follow the conference on Facebook and Twitter. – Terrilyn Simmons is the media relations coordinator for the Office of Communications.