Women veterans and military spouses from across the country gathered at The Westin Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX, August 12-14, to attend V-WISE (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) – the nation’s leading entrepreneurship training program for women veterans, active duty service women, and female partners and spouses of service members. Rear Admiral Dawn E. Cutler, U.S. Navy Chief of Information, received the “FIRST” initiative honor and V-WISE Medal at the Opening Ceremony on Friday, Aug. 12.
V-WISE is operated by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University in cooperation with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). More than 150 innovative women veterans and military spouses converged in the city of San Antonio to learn business best practices, build networks, and develop their entrepreneurial skills as they seek to launch or grow sustainable business ventures.
• Rear Admiral Dawn E. Cutler, U.S. Navy Chief of Information: The first woman to serve in this role, Cutler is the principal spokeswoman for the Department of the Navy, provides strategic counsel to the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations, and leads the Navy’s public affairs community.
• Tia Copes (Sneads Ferry, NC): A military spouse, whose husband was killed in action, Copes was inspired to open Weeping Hearts and Wellness. She now serves as a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist through the Grief Recovery Institute, helping clients move beyond the pain caused by a loss. Read her feature here.
• Lila Holley (Killeen, TX): A veteran, who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years, is the author of several books including “Camouflaged Sisters,” the award-winning book that chronicles the experiences of African American women in the military. Holley has created multiple platforms for military women to share their stories in their own words, in their own voices. View her feature video.
• Tara Hutchinson (San Antonio, TX): A retired Military Police Officer who served 10 years on active duty, Hutchison was injured in 2006, while on patrol in Iraq, when her vehicle was struck by an IED. Today, she owns Tara Hutch Fine Jewelry, and seeks to help all women, whether wounded through war or not, feel beautiful with her fine jewelry creations. View her feature video.
Nicole Baldwin, a V-WISE-Washington, D.C. graduate, served as the keynote speaker at the closing ceremony. Baldwin is the owner of Biao Skincare. In her keynote she spoke about the obstacles, including tragedies, she went through before launching her business. She inspired women in attendance to never give up.
View full agenda to review what participants experienced – including the impressive list of business instructors and nationally respected entrepreneurial leaders.
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About the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Program:
V-WISE was created by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Attendees of the conference receive in-depth instruction from prominent business owners, leadership consultants, educators, veterans and other experts who will help shape their development as entrepreneurs. Sessions focus on business planning, marketing, accounting/finance, business law, technology for business, human resources and government contracting.
V-WISE has impacted more than 2,000 women veterans and military spouses from all service branches and eras, and its graduates are from 48 states across the nation. More than 65% of V-WISE graduates have started or expanded a business. More than $41 million in revenue has been generated by V-WISE graduates, and 93% of those businesses are still in operation today!