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Historic observance celebrates the achievements of women

Image of A flyer of three women in three separate pictures smiling . Dr. Sharyn Potter, Dr. Julie Cruz, and Ms. Leslie Joseph joined DHA's virtual observance as guest speakers on a discussion panel on 17 March 2021.

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"If there's a first...then there can be a few and then many. A first is a signal that [anything] is possible!"

On March 17, Leslie Joseph, staff director for the deputy assistant secretary of the navy (civilian human resources) stated that we must celebrate when a woman becomes the first in history to occupy a position -- consider our current vice president, Kamala Harris, the first female voted into that position.

Joseph, along with Dr. Julie Cruz and Dr. Sharyn Potter participated in a panel discussion on women's history during the Defense Health Agency's virtual observance honoring Women's History Month.

They shared their experiences of serving in the nation's workforce and offered advice for women on finding success in life.

Women Are Connectors

As Director of the Technology Career Field in the Army's Civilian Career Management Activity, Cruz enhances civilian competencies, increases career satisfaction, maximizes employee engagement and retains talent for the Army's 15,000 IT/Cyber workforce.

In discussing her civil service career in the departments of the Army and the Air Force, she offered curiosity, positivity, and having the ability to connect with people as important characteristics of successful leaders.

"I choose to be positive and...to be a connector," said Cruz.

Cruz encourages women to support other people in their careers. "Make a decision on how you can uplift people...How do we try maximize people's strengths?"

Women Provide a Voice for the Voiceless

Dr. Sharyn Potter is a co-founder of and executive director of research at the Prevention Innovations Research Center: Ending Sexual and Relationship Violence and Stalking at the University of New Hampshire. Potter supports community efforts to reduce sexual violence throughout the nation.

When discussing her experience as a volunteer on a crisis hotline, Potter remarked, "The powerlessness described by the victims and their appreciation for having someone to listen to them...cemented my dedication to help end sexual violence."

"When talking about Women's History Month, we need to ensure that women can pursue their dreams and expand their opportunities for themselves and their families."

Older flyer of a woman with the American flag in the background with the words "We can do it and she did. Women's history month" across the top and "honoring the past, securing the future at the bottom
Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (Image courtesy of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute).

Women Dare to Be Different

Joseph is responsible for the administration of enterprise human resources for more than 200,000 members of the civilian workforce. "When talking about women's history," said Joseph, "we must mention the women who have dared to do things differently."

Joseph believes that success comes to women when they dare to challenge stereotypical gender roles.

"I am blessed that my parents didn't embrace traditional gender roles because that was a sign that I could do something different," explained Joseph.

"Don't hold yourself back," she added. "Take a risk and bet on yourself." She credits this attitude as the reason for her accomplished civil service career.

Women Are Great!

Women's History Month celebrates the accomplishments of women throughout our nation's history, and honors the potential that women have for greatness.

Joseph said her parents "worked too hard for me not to be great. Greatness is the ability to have a self-sustaining, self-sufficient life."

"Think of your life as great," she encouraged women.

The DHA offers its gratitude for the women who participated in our virtual discussion panel and to all women who have courageously served our nation.

While Women's History Month is officially celebrated in March, we must continue to recognize the achievements of women each and every day.

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