Training Center Yorktown hosts leadership panel: “Women–Can You Have It All?”

Lt. Cmdr. Peggy Britton speaks to those who joined the Coast Guard's Leadership and Diversity Advisory Council at Training Center Yorktown, April 10, 2013.  U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 2nd class Walter Shinn

Lt. Cmdr. Peggy Britton speaks to those who joined the Coast Guard’s Leadership and Diversity Advisory Council at Training Center Yorktown, April 10, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 2nd class Walter Shinn

On April 10, 2013, Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown’s Leadership and Diversity Advisory Council presented a first-of-its-kind, leadership luncheon and panel discussion entitled “Women: Can You Have It All?”

More than 110 Coast Guard men and women from the TRACEN and neighboring commands gathered together at the training center’s Port of York dining facility to glean insight and career guidance from the six esteemed guest panelists.

Invited for their diverse operational and personal backgrounds, the panelists included:
• Capt. Ty Rinoski, the commanding officer of the Health, Safety and Work-Life service center
• Capt. Maureen Steinhouse, USCGR, ret., and graduate of USCG Academy Class of 1982
• Cmdr. Kendall Garran, Training Center Yorktown operations training branch chief
• Cmdr. Holly Harrison, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Northland
• Master Chief Petty Officer Timaree Sparks, the officer in charge of the Coast Guard Cutter Beluga
• Senior Chief Petty Officer Tonia Allen of Coast Guard Base Portsmouth

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Capt. Ty Rinoski, the commanding officer of the Health, Safety and Work-Life service center, addresses the audience during a leadership luncheon at Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown, Va., April 10, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Shinn.

The LDAC derived the concept of the luncheon from the ongoing controversy surrounding Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” from the July/August 2012 issue of The Atlantic. The LDAC’s event title, “Women: Can You Have It All?” resonated not only with training center staff and students, but also guests from several outlying stations and cutters, including Sector Hampton Roads, Base Portsmouth, the 5th Coast Guard District, and Atlantic Area commands.

Each speaker uniquely contributed to the discussion and importance of work-life balance. Thematically, the panel concurred that there simply is no “one-size-fits-all” answer, nor is there one standard “it,” or end goal. The consensus seemed to be that all individuals, both male and female, define their own success. Panelists shared personal and professional stories that showed operational achievement while concurrently raising a family can be extremely challenging, but it is certainly possible with the proper support network and an open understanding of the very real costs associated. Moreover, panelists encouraged participants to be true to themselves and move past societal expectations when setting and governing life goals.

The event coordinator and LDAC member Lt. Cmdr. Peggy Britton underscored the Coast Guard’s responsibility to advance policies to preserve women in the organization.

“We need to get this right if we are to truly embrace organizational diversity, for any group, not just women, it’s about retaining talent,” she said.

Training Center Yorktown’s LDAC intends to continue promoting future dialogue and hosting events pertaining to work-life balance, mentorship and organizational leadership.

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