Women In Leadership Panel: Bring Others Up As We Move Up

  • Published
  • By Amanda Mills
  • Space Base Delta 3

There was no shortage of direct discussions during the Women In Leadership Panel in honor of Women's History Month (WHM), on Monday March 25, 2024 at Los Angeles Air Force Base (LAAFB), El Segundo, California.

As many continue to cultivate community “IRL—in real life” across many aspects of life, LAAFB proudly hosted the community panel celebrating WHM to shine a spotlight on the remarkable women leaders across Space Base Delta 3 (SBD 3) and its tenant Field Command, Space Systems Command (SSC). The WHM panel, featured an inspiring and growth mindset lineup of female leaders, engaging discussions, and a vibrant exchange of ideas to empower the next generation of women leaders, within the Armed Services and beyond to achieve balanced leadership. The main theme arrived at how “we must always bring others up as we move up,” echoed by each speaker.

The six panelists were a diverse array of women across the installation and included SSC leaders, Ms. Joy M. White, Executive Director, Col. Michele Idle, Deputy Commander; Chief Master Sgt. Jacqueline Sauvé, Senior Enlisted Leader; Ms. Shannon Pallone, Program Executive Officer (PEO), Battle Management Command, Control & Communications (BMC3); and Col. Heather B. Bogstie, Senior Material Leader, Resilient Missile Warning, Tracking, and Defense Acquisition Delta; along with Col. Mia L. Walsh, Commander of SBD 3 and host of the event. This illustrious team of women leaders have continued to break barriers and usher in the path for the next generation. Each panelist shared their journey, the challenges they've faced, and the wins they've celebrated, giving insights and advice to aspiring leaders.

In attendance were Airmen, Guardians, Civilians, Contractors—and Civic Leaders, a hallmark of Walsh’s, effort in a post-Covid world, to foster growth and deep connections within the greater Los Angeles area, from El Segundo, Torrance, and beyond. Among the distinguished guests included California Assemblymember Mike Gipson and City of Torrance’s Mayor, George Chen, along with SSC Commander, Lt. Gen. Philip Garrant and many local community leaders, government representatives and special guests.

Throughout the lively 90-minute panel, several key themes revolved, including: leadership, empowerment, innovation and change, along with overcoming challenges, mentorship and support. To dive deeper into some of the robust discussions beyond the usual buzz words, we sum up the key takeaways from each panelist.

When Walsh was asked, “How are you guiding and developing your daughter?” Ms. Taylor Walsh, a high school senior and Operation Homefront’s 2024 Military Child of the Year® for the Space Force, who was in attendance, made endearing eye contact with her mom: “I always put my kids first when I can. And I cannot always—but it makes them understand what it means to serve.” She went on to proudly declare: “When you choose to lead it’s a gift. They understand what it means to work hard. And what it means to sacrifice. And to be grateful to all those paved the path before and for you.”

During the moderated section at the beginning, Pallone frankly answered: “…Gender bias…? I was guilty of it because of my time in entertainment when there was only room for one woman, or so we thought, but in the military that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Now I ask myself—Who am I bringing up behind me? Instead of competing. The minute you change your mindset everything changes.” Later she shared another reminder some of us may need to hear but can just as easily spark a lively debate at dinner parties or in the comment section—it should be about “who gets results, not who’s staying in the office the longest.”

When White answered an audience member’s question, she jokingly asked the crowd, “Work-life balance—Does anyone really recognize it?” The audience laughed, smiled, or nodded their heads in agreeance. Adding to the conversation, Walsh stated: “It’s okay if you’re not everything to everyone all the time. You don’t have to be on all the time.”  Throughout the discussion White left soundbites of wisdom with phrases of “be intentional,” “take risks when you’re young because there are so many adventures you can go on,” “let go of the guilt,” and “shift careers, you have time.”  For White, her moment of revelation was when she started speaking up—it gave her this newfound boldness. She shared, “it hit me, my point of view was unique—and I should speak up. I thought others were thinking what I was thinking, but the weren’t, so I needed to speak up.” She then encouraged the audience to “draw people out of the meeting for diversity of thought. When you lead—give everyone a voice whether they want it or not.”

Sauvé shared how she started to notice about midway in her career there were less and less women serving around her due to the anecdotal choice at the time of either be a parent or stay in the military. Yet, that’s changed now, and we need to be better “and find a way to retain and educate women about these new opportunities.” She echoed again with a smile we need to “let them know—there are so many new opportunities.” Stories of her journey gave insight to how it is not always easy—and still isn’t, but she finds the power of mindset is what gets her through. She goes on to say, it's “a lot of discipline to be present wherever you are.”

When the STEM Outreach Program was brought up by an audience member, Bogstie shared how she is proud of STEM involvement overall from women to people of color, and beyond, leaving an encouraging reminder with the audience: “There’s room for everybody in space. Just be inspired…”

The panel ended in a mic drop moment led by Idle reminding the audience to take their health seriously: “Take care of yourself. If something doesn’t feel right—take the time to get checked out. And if something looks off in someone else—help them out. It’s easy to get caught up in the next steps, but if we remember there’s always room for everyone, we can extend a helping hand. We can only move up if there are others behind us, so let’s keep bringing others up—then, we’ll all get there.” 

By bringing together women leaders from varied backgrounds across LAAFB, this leadership panel underscored the importance of diversity and inclusivity and how women's contributions are invaluable to societal progress, innovation and ultimately the mission.

As Women’s History Month closes, the panel serves as a reminder to acknowledge the past, discuss the present, and envision a future where women in leadership is not the exception but the norm—like LAAFB. Let’s all keep aiming for the stars and supporting each other along the way—and not just for Women’s History Month, but each and every day.