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January 3, 2013

Fifth V-WISE entrepreneurship training conference for female veterans heads to Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 10-12

Fifth V-WISE entrepreneurship training conference for female veterans heads to Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 10-12

Force Master Chief Nancy Hollingsworth (U.S. Navy) and Judge Coral Wong Pietsch (Brigadier General, U.S. Army, Retired) to be honored as pioneering women in the military


Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), one of the first federally-funded programs focused on engaging entrepreneurial opportunity for female veterans and launched by Syracuse University in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in 2010, will hold its fifth offering Jan. 10-12 in Jacksonville, Fla.. Close to 200 participants are expected to take part. The Jacksonville conference includes a full agenda of keynote speakers and course instructors from  academia, industry, government and the military who will help open the doors of business ownership to the women veterans and provide them with tools to become successful entrepreneurs.

V-WISE is operated by SU’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and was founded at the Whitman School of Management. The program provides cutting-edge entrepreneurship training to women veterans from any branch/era of military service, active duty military (including National Guard and Reserve) and female spouses/partners of active duty personnel and veterans looking to start a business venture.

“V-WISE empowers participants to find their passion and learn business skills to help turn their ideas or existing businesses into true growth ventures,” says Meghan Florkowski, V-WISE program manager at the IVMF. “The V-WISE program integrates the leadership, integrity, focus and drive of our nation’s female veterans through premier educational training with accomplished entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators from across the country. We are grateful to our partners, the SBA and Whitman School, for helping us put on this exceptional educational event.”

During conference proceedings, Force Master Chief Nancy Hollingsworth, Commander, U.S. Navy Installations Command, and Judge Coral Wong Pietsch (Brigadier General, U.S. Army, Retired), U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, will be honored as pioneering women in the military.

Hollingsworth, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., enlisted in the Navy in Oct. 1985. Her career includes tours aboard Submarine Squadron EIGHT; Atlantic Fleet Career Information Team; Navy Operational Support Center, Norfolk: Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 56; Navy Reserve Force, New Orleans, Louisiana; U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and Carrier Strike Group TWO onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). While assigned as a Protocol Officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C., she was selected for the Command Master Chief program and reported as Command Master Chief on the USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) in Nov. 2008. In Nov. 2010, she began serving as the Regional Command Master Chief for Navy Region Southwest. In Oct. 2012, Hollingsworth reported to Commander Navy Installations Command as the Force Master Chief. Hollingsworth was selected to the Chief Petty Officer ranks in 1996. She attended the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy (Class 106) and was selected as Green honor graduate. She holds an M.S. in human resources management from Troy University and has been a three-time member of the All-Navy Cross Country Team. She has earned the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (five awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (six awards), and various unit and campaign awards. She is also designated Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (SW) and Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist (AW).

Pietsch was nominated by President Obama and subsequently appointed a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in June 2012. She has a distinguished career in public service, both in the military and as a civilian. She was commissioned in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and served six years on active duty. Pietsch continued her service in the Army Reserve and rose to the rank of brigadier general, the first woman to be promoted to the rank in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and the first woman of Asian ancestry to be promoted to BG in the Army. In her military career, she participated in numerous exercises and deployments throughout the Asia Pacific Region. Until her appointment to the bench, Pietsch held the position of Senior Attorney and Special Assistant at Headquarters, Army Pacific, located in Honolulu. As part of the 2007 surge in Iraq, Pietsch volunteered as a DOD civilian to deploy for a year, where she was seconded to the Department of State to serve as Deputy Rule of Law Coordinator for the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team. During deployment, she assisted with civil society projects involving a variety of Rule of Law partners and evaluated and sought funding for projects aimed at building capacity within the Iraqi legal community. She also established meaningful relationships with Government of Iraq ministries, nongovernmental organizations and Coalition partners to help reinvigorate the rule of law. In 2006, Pietsch was appointed by the governor of Hawaii to the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and served for seven years. Shortly after, the governor selected her as its chair and, during her tenure, the commission improved the claims administrative process, eliminated backlogs, implemented a public education program and initiated an awareness program within the public schools. Earlier in her civilian legal career, Pietsch was appointed a Deputy Attorney General for the State of Hawaii, advising the State Departments of Health and Agriculture and the State Criminal History Records Division. Her degrees include a  B.A., M.A. and J.D. She was also a Senior Executive Fellow at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, and is a graduate of the Defense Leadership and Management Program and of the Army War College. Her awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, Superior Civilian Performance Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Medal. She has been the recipient of the Organization of Chinese Americans Pioneer Award, the Hawaii Women Lawyers Attorney of the Year Award, the Honolulu YWCA Achievement in Leadership Award, The Catholic University Alumni Achievement Award, the Federal Executive Board Award for Excellence and the Army Pacific Community Service Award.

V-WISE has three components: a 15-day online course, 20 hours of instruction during the on-site conference and a post-mentorship/technical assistance program offered through the SBA. The on-site conference offers two training environments; a growth track for participants already in business, and a start-up track for potential entrepreneurs. Courses include business planning, marketing, accounting/finance, operations/production, human resources and work-life balance. Ongoing support and mentorship is delivered online and through a robust, comprehensive network of mentors and partners.

V-WISE is offered for a minimal $75 registration fee to participants, who provide their own transportation to the on-site training. Food, lodging and materials are fully funded by the program. Upcoming 2013 conferences will be held in Chicago on May 3-5, Seattle on Aug. 16-18 and Denver on Nov. 14-16.

For more information, contact Florkowski at (315) 443-4629 or  For admissions questions on the V-WISE program, or the entire portfolio of veteran entrepreneurship training offered by the IVMF, contact Katherine Frontino, IVMF admissions coordinator, at (315) 443-8791 or

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