National Women Veterans Speakers Bureau

Public speaking. That was my least favorite part of being an intelligence officer. I wasn’t bad at it (minus a disastrous last minute briefing – via translator – to a group of Russian military officers on a topic I knew they wouldn’t be too pleased with, I was actually pretty good at it); I simply didn’t like it.

But there are a lot of veterans who do like it and have found that public speaking skills are useful, whether they’re pitching their business idea to investors, running for office, entering the Ms America pageant, or simply trying to get people to listen to your story. Some have even found those speaking skills to be profitable. Several women veterans have even gone so far as to form the National Women Veterans Speakers Bureau.

The National Women Veterans Speakers Bureau is the first organization of all women veteran motivational speakers. While the bureau plans to expand in the future, it currently has eight core speakers. These women serve as motivational keynote speakers on topics from leadership to business to work-life balance, as well as doubling as business owners, authors, advocates, and movers and shakers in their local communities. Below is a brief overview of each speaker:

1) Graciela Tiscareño-Sato: You may remember Graciela from the review I did of her bilingual children’s book, Goodnight Captain Mama, or you may recognize her name as one of the ten women veteran “Champions of Change” recently honored at the White House. She is also the founder of Gracefully Global Group LLC, a publishing and multicultural marketing firm, and the author of Latinnovating. Graciela speaks about: “Personal Branding for Military Veterans,” “The STEM of Aviation,” modern military women and their leadership lessons, the Green Economy and the part the Latino community is playing in growing it. Be sure to check out Graciela’s Google Hangout video on how to successfully market yourself, posted on Gracefully Global’s page.

2) Sandra Tibbs: Like me, Sandra is also a former Air Force Intelligence officer. In addition to motivational speaking, she started a successful corporate leadership training company called Neverest Solutions LLC. Be sure to check out the Neverest blog for useful leadership articles and advice.

3) Shannon Polson: Shannon is a former Army Apache pilot who left corporate marketing to write full time. Last year, her memoir North of Hope: A Daughter’s Arctic Journey was published. Shannon speaks about: How to use writing to understand our experiences, how to know when to leave the corporate world and follow your passion, and how to write about grief and the wilderness. If you’re an aspiring writer, as I am, be sure to check out the guest post she did about the publishing and book writing process for 1st Books, blog of one of my favorite authors, Meg Waite Clayton.

4) Valerie Ormond: Valerie is a retired Naval Intelligence Officer and a fellow V-WISE graduate. Like Shannon and Graciela, she is a published author. Her book, Believing in Horses, won a Gold Medal for Young Adult Books from the Military Writer’s Society of America, and her second novel, Believing in Horses, Too, was just released last week. She is also the founder and CEO of Veteran Writing Services LLC. Valerie speaks about: writing, positive change, and how to make a difference. Her blog, with posts such as “The Synopsis and Its Friends,” is another great resource for writers.

5) Kim Olson: A retired Air Force Colonel and pilot with over 3,700 flying hours, Kim is also the founder and CEO of Grace After Fire, an organization dedicated to helping women veterans “help themselves.” Kim’s speaking revolves around her organization, the challenges women veterans face, and how individuals can help. Be sure to check out Grace After Fire’s page and learn about what this organization is doing for women veterans.

6) Linda Maloney: A former Naval Flight Officer and one of the first women to join a combat flying squadron, Linda is the author of Military Fly Moms and founder of MMF Media Marketing LLC. Linda speaks about: creating a legacy, balancing motherhood and career and work-life balance, how to achieve goals, and faith. Check out her webpage for excerpts from her book.

7) Miyoko Hikiji: A former Army and Iowa National Guard member and Iraq veteran, Miyoko is the author of All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq. Miyoko speaks about: how to discover your inner champion, how to break female stereotypes and lead in your own way, and integrating Army values in everything you do. Check out her book on your preferred book distributor’s page.

8) Karen Baetzel: Retiring as a Captain after 30 years as a Naval aviator, Karen founded BattleAxe Consulting Services, which provides leadership consulting, training workshops and, of course, motivational speaking. Karen speaks on a range of topics, including communication and process improvement, teamwork, and women’s leadership. Check out the book she co-authored with Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, and Dr. Dennis Waitley, Stepping Stones to Success.

Whether public speaking is something you love or something you tolerate as a necessary evil to achieving your goals, these eight women veterans are proof that you can turn public speaking into a useful and profitable tool. You can learn more about what the National Women Veterans Speakers Bureau is doing on their webpage and on Facebook.

Update January 22, 2020: The bureau’s website address has changed to:

© 2014 – 2020, Sarah Maples LLC. All rights reserved.

Sarah Maples is a former Air Force intelligence officer and an Afghanistan veteran. She is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in veteran, military, and defense topics.

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