2020 Virtual Military Spouse Symposium
April 29-30, 2020

While the 2020 Virtual Military Spouse Symposium has come to an end, session presentations are now available for download. No matter where you are in your career, these sessions can help you imagine where your career path will go and build a plan to achieve that vision.

Resources cited and the appearance of hyperlinks in the session presentations, excluding Military OneSource and SECO presentations, do not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of the information, products or services referenced.


Time Slot  
Day One
9:00 AM - 9:55 AM EDT

The onset of the New Year isn’t the only time to begin acting upon a goal you’ve longed to achieve: pursuing more education. Maybe you’ve seen TV commercials about furthering your education, or feel a bit of nostalgia each time a new school year begins in September. These might be the subtle nudges you need to activate a plan toward building an educational foundation that is just right for you. You won’t want to miss this session as it will put you ‘in the know’ with all kinds of education resources that can lead to growth and personal fulfillment through lifelong learning opportunities.

Click here to download a transcript PDF.

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PRESENTER

Natalie J. Ellis

Natalie J. Ellis is a Career Coach by profession, but motivator by passion. After years as a higher education administrator and employment support specialist, Natalie recognized a genuine interest in matching people from diverse work and educational backgrounds with the opportunity to grow professionally and personally. Each day at the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program, Natalie collaborates with military spouses for development around the four career lifecycle stages of career readiness, education, training and licensing, employment readiness, and career connections. With a compassionate ear and an open mind, Natalie partners with spouses to create a custom plan of action toward self-discovery that leads to an ultimate goal of identifying a rewarding, fulfilling career path.

Day One
10:00 AM - 10:55 AM EDT

Are you considering a new career field? Sometimes a change is necessary due to the demands of the military or a desire to do something new. This session is designed for military spouses who are interested in changing careers. Join us as we discuss ways to pursue a new career path while managing the unique challenges of being a military spouse.

Click here to download a transcript PDF.

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PRESENTER

Kathia Kilburn

Kathia Kilburn is a career coach with the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program and a Certified Workforce Development Professional. She has a master’s degree in education from Howard University and a bachelor’s degree in science from Virginia Commonwealth University. Kathia has over ten years of experience in education and career counseling and has been a part of the SECO program since October 2011. During her time with SECO, Kathia has received awards for excellence in delivering training materials and for continued dedication and commitment to process improvement initiatives. She has spent the past eight years providing career and education coaching to military spouses worldwide.

Day One
11:00 AM - 11:55 AM EDT

Creating and maintaining your personal brand will help you excel in your personal and professional life. How you promote yourself and tell your story to the world will have a lasting impact on your relationships, job prospects and much more. Join Lakesha Cole to learn what personal branding is, how to create your own personal brand and strategies for achieving your goals.

Click here to download a transcript PDF.

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PRESENTER

Lakesha Cole

Lakesha Cole is an author, advocacy influencer, serial entrepreneur, and self-proclaimed chaos coordinator.

With over ten years of experience in marketing and public relations, Lakesha is highly regarded for her ability to build powerful personal brands, increase visibility through the media and ensure those who want a seat at the table get one.

Lakesha founded ‘she PR’ at the intersection of her advocacy efforts, media expertise, and new life as a retired Marine spouse. As a longtime mentor to help women and moms discover how to convert their interests and skills into a profitable business, she realized that she could focus her experience specifically on the empowerment and the rising influence of women. ‘she PR’ nurtures brands from the female perspective and is devoted to helping women-led companies accelerate through strategy and media.

Lakesha is also the owner of the She Swank retail franchise, a modern-day general store brimming with home goods and artisan gifts, made by local makers, military spouse, and veteran brands. Lakesha is also a partner at Milspo Media and co-creator of the makeHer Milspouse Retreat.

In addition, Lakesha's business portfolio includes advocating for the military community and shedding light on the many challenges that military families face, most notably military spouse employment. As an Advisory Board Member for the Military Family Advisory Network, Lakesha worked with her home state Senator Tim Kaine (VA) on drafting the Military Spouse Employment Act, which was later signed into law by the President. She consults and serves as a partnership liaison in introducing companies and organizations to military talent and connecting military spouses and veterans to meaningful employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

When asked, the mom of three says the best descriptive phrase for her would be, "Raising babies and building businesses all between drop-off and pick-up."

Lakesha holds a BA in Journalism and minor in Public Relations from North Carolina A&T State University and an A.A.S. in Fashion Marketing from Parsons, the New School for Design. Before starting her own business, Lakesha worked as the Public Information Officer for Stafford County Government, as a Program Analyst for Headquarters Marine Corps and in Business Development for Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

Lakesha has been featured by the Today Show, NBC News, Attn:, CBS This Morning, Fox & Friends, Black Enterprise, Military Families Magazine, Military Spouse, and Military.com.

Lakesha and her family currently reside in Tampa, FL.

Day One
1:00 PM - 1:55 PM EDT

Not sure where to start with your pursuit of federal employment? Join us and discover how to successfully navigate your federal job search. This session is designed to review the federal hiring process including how to search for jobs, review job announcements, and write your federal resume. We will cover critical components of the application and selection process as well as additional tools and strategies to help you master your pursuit of federal employment.

Click here to download a transcript PDF.

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PRESENTER

Kristina Santos

Kristina Santos is a proud military spouse, mom, and career coach with the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program where she has worked for more than six years. She holds a master’s degree from Loyola University Maryland and is a national certified counselor through the National Board of Certified Counselors. Kristina is honored to serve and support the worldwide military spouse community. She is passionate about providing tools, resources, and information to empower military spouses to pursue their career goals while bravely balancing the unique demands of military life.

Day One
3:00 PM - 3:55 PM EDT

Join us as we close out Day 1 with an MSEP Partner Connect Facebook Live event with Starbucks. Learn about open job opportunities and their commitment to hiring and retaining veterans and military spouses across the globe.

Watch Facebook Live

Day Two
9:00 AM - 9:55 AM EDT

Interested in building a career that can move with you? Grow with Google offers free training and tools to help you grow your skills, career, or business no matter where you are. In this session, Google will share the resources they offer to help you build a career that can thrive in the mobile military life. Join us as we explore the resources for finding and preparing for remote work, the basics of starting and growing a business, and opportunities for growing your skills for a career in IT.

Click here to download a transcript PDF.

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PRESENTERS

Lily Derella

Lily Derella is a Program Manager for Grow with Google, which is Google’s initiative to create economic opportunities for all Americans, including military and veteran communities, through free tools, training, and events. Before joining Google in 2018, Lily was a Communications Specialist at Awesomeness, a media company for Gen Z, where she led the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy, including the development and management of content partnerships with various nonprofit organizations. Prior, she served as Communications and Social Impact Associate at Tumblr, leading the strategy and launch of the company’s first-ever social impact initiatives focused on mental health and political activism. Lily received a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Day Two
10:00 AM - 10:55 AM EDT

Are you a small business owner or interested in owning your own business? Tune into this session to learn all about the Small Business Administration and military spouse-specific resources you can use to get your small business up and running.

Click here to download a transcript PDF.

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PRESENTERS

Stan Kurtz

Stan Kurtz is a Retired U.S. Navy Veteran, currently serving as Director of Policy and Engagement for the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development. He also served as the Director of the Veteran Business Outreach Program. His previous positions include director of Veterans Employment Services and Operations Manager for the Texas Veteran commission in Austin, Texas. He also served as the Assistant State Veterans Employment Coordinator for the State of Florida. Stan has been with the SBA since 2017 and his roles and responsibilities have provided him with a well-rounded depth of knowledge and understanding of SBA programs and services.

Stan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland University College.

Jilan Hall

Jilan always had a passion for food. Growing up you would often find her in the kitchen. After high school, she decided a non-traditional college and degree in culinary arts would best suit her needs as a new mother. Moving from Syracuse, New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania she met her husband, DeMarco Johnson. After graduating from The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and working a short while in the restaurant industry she decided she did not enjoy the hustle and bustle of the commercial kitchen. DeMarco had always dreamed of serving his country and joined the United States Marine Corps in 2006, this gave Jilan the opportunity to return to school and earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology from Park University and a Graduate degree in Human Services Counseling Marriage and Family from Liberty University. Jilan has spent her professional career dedicated to assisting military families adjusting to the challenges of life. She has now set out on her newest venture, “Bringing big city living to small town plates,” with her biscuit-centric restaurant, The Sassy Biscuit Co. in Billings, Montana and a second soon to come in Dover, NH.

Day Two
11:00 AM - 11:55 AM EDT

What do potential employers want to know? Can they quickly and easily find what they are looking for in your resume? Join us to gain a better understanding of what employers want to see on your resume and how they want to see it! We will discuss the process of crafting a compelling resume that effectively answers employer questions, tells your professional story, and convinces prospective employers you will add value to their organization.

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PRESENTERS

PRESENTERS

Kristina Santos

Kristina Santos is a proud military spouse, mom, and career coach with the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program where she has worked for more than six years. She holds a master’s degree from Loyola University Maryland and is a national certified counselor through the National Board of Certified Counselors. Kristina is honored to serve and support the worldwide military spouse community. She is passionate about providing tools, resources, and information to empower military spouses to pursue their career goals while bravely balancing the unique demands of military life.

Stevie Dahl

Stevie Dahl, Director of Security & Specialty Programs, oversees all company security items and veteran/military spouse hiring programs for the ActOne Group. Stevie has over 25 years of compliance and customer service experience. Over the last 5 years, she has focused on the topic of security. Stevie has developed programs designed to protect the intellectual property and the personal safety of the members of the ActOne Group of companies. As the daughter of a Military Spouse and 21-year Navy veteran, Stevie shares a personal connection to the specialty programs she directs. Her efforts have increased the ActOne Group’s participation in a variety of events that support veterans and military spouses.

Day Two
1:00 PM - 1:55 PM EDT

Congratulations! You got through the interviews and an organization selected you for the job. Now what? How do you approach the process of negotiating your salary? This presentation will discuss common fears of negotiating, when to talk money, how to prepare, how to respond to salary questions, and what to consider when evaluating a salary offer.

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PRESENTER

Patricia Cole

Patricia Cole is a career transition specialist with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), a veteran-focused nonprofit that advocates for military pay and benefits. As program director for career transition services, she assists association members---military personnel, veterans, and military spouses---with the skills they need to successfully transition into new careers. She is a proud Navy veteran and holds a Bachelor of Science in English from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Science in Space Systems Operations from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Day Two
3:00 PM - 3:55 PM EDT

Tune in for a relationships discussion with Taya Kyle, the Executive Director of Chris Kyle Frog Foundation where the mission is to restore military and first responder communities by keeping families together.

Watch Facebook Live

PRESENTER

Taya Kyle 

Taya Kyle is first and foremost a woman after God’s heart. Second, she is a mother of two children who amaze and inspire her. Taya carries on the legacy of her late husband Chris Kyle. You may know Chris as the American Sniper in both his internationally best-selling book and Academy Award nominated major motion picture by the same name.

Since Chris’s passing, Taya has also become a NY Times best-selling author with American Wife. Her latest book release is American Spirit. Her newest projects releasing this year and next, are all faith-based and include a children’s book series, jewelry line and new book called Relentless Love – Building a Bulletproof Service Marriage.

Taya serves as the Executive Director of Chris Kyle Frog Foundation where the mission is to restore military and first responder communities by keeping families together. They serve God and country with this mission, helping service marriages take their marriage from a place of surviving to a place of thriving.