The 2021 WoVeN National Summit was a roaring success! We are excited to share with you details of the Summit and some reflections from our community!
The virtual Summit, which took place on November 12th and 13th, was attended by over 100 members of the WoVeN Community, including Trainers, Peer Leaders, Group Members, BRIDGES Service Members, and WoVeN Legacies. Additionally, some WoVeN women attended the event together through in-person Watch Parties hosted by some of our Trainers and Peer Leaders! We kicked off the Summit with a ceremony to recognize the accomplishments of many of our WoVeN members. We began with our WoVeN Legacies – Billiekai, Brandy, Tina, Valerie, Beth, and Lauren – who have made remarkable contributions to the program over the years. We then recognized all of our Trainers for their hard work over the past year, with special thanks to our new Trainers – Alyssa, Detrel, Greta, Jen, Karen, Kerrie-Ann, Loretta, Michelle, Sarah, and Vera – who were brought on during the pandemic and have been such a valuable part of maintaining the spirit of WoVeN during these challenging times! Next, we recognized all the Peer Leaders who ran their first WoVeN group – over 60 women in total! The last awards of the day were given to the BRIDGES Service Members and Guides whose feedback and support during the BRIDGES pilot has been invaluable. We are grateful to have received additional funding from the Walmart Foundation to support the continued development of BRIDGES in 2022! We wrapped up Friday evening with performances by two amazing Veteran comediennes – Monica Daly and Stephanie Kline – from the Armed Services Arts Partnership!
On Saturday, we started the day off on an uplifting note when we were joined by Dr. Heidi Kraft, US Navy Veteran and author of Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital. Dr. Kraft’s keynote was a true highlight of the weekend! After the keynote address, we transitioned to a series of breakout sessions throughout the day. Attendees participated in alumni groups, panel discussions, and brainstorming, self-care, informational, and reflection sessions. The participants reflected on their favorite WoVeN memories, heard original poems from incredible Peer Leaders Terri Souder and Tee White, brainstormed new ideas to grow the WoVeN community, chatted with Tara and Amy about all things WoVeN, learned about our upcoming BRIDGES expansion, toured the new WoVeN website, built connections during alumni groups, and so much more! These breakout sessions generated a TON of new ideas that we are excited to implement over the next year. During lunch we took a break with dancing and trivia! In the afternoon, we got to know one another a bit better through a speed-networking session. Attendees were encouraged to complete a scavenger hunt to find out more about other WoVeN members. We had over 30 people complete their scavenger hunts to receive a prize!
To bring the Summit to a close, we presented some of our most hard-working WoVeN Peer Leaders with the Peer Leader Exemplar award. This award is presented to Peer Leaders who have run at least five WoVeN groups and who have demonstrated excellent service to the WoVeN Community. This award was presented to twelve individuals this year: Ami Ritter, April Price, Karen Drebot, Kerrie-Ann Stidum, Leandra Hernandez, Magdalen Jean-Baptiste, Michelle Kruschke, Sarah Blanchard, Tanisha Brown, Terri Souder, Valerie Minchew, and YoLonda Pickens. Finally, we recognized our WoVeN Champions. This award is presented to truly exceptional WoVeN Community Members that embody the WoVeN spirit and mission in all aspects of their involvement with the community; this is the highest level of achievement at WoVeN! This year, the WoVeN Champion award was presented to Drea Lewis, Martha Monahan, and Valerie Harvey. Each of these women have made untold contributions to our WoVeN family. Our Summit theme, “We rise because we lift others,” comes from the wise words of none other than Valerie! Our WoVeN champions embody this theme on a daily basis and are a true testament to the success of our program. Give them a big congratulations the next time you see them!
Thank you to all of our participants for making this event so special, we couldn’t have done it without you!
We’d like to end our Summit Recap with reflections from our attendees:
- “It was such a great time! I loved seeing new faces and familiar ones too. The keynote speaker was incredibly moving, genuine, and transparent. I know I bought the book. And I was totally not ugly crying when our WoVeN champions had that precious honor bestowed upon them! Rise up ladies!!” – WoVeN Trainer
- “The summit meant the world to me. I had been feeling so secluded, and the ladies during the summit gave me a sense of belonging. I am not alone, I can always reach out to my WoVeN family. Thank you WoVeN family, you have shown me that together collectively we are so powerful.” –WoVeN Peer Leader
- “I love the fact that everyone was so happy to see all the women that came on the opening day. The ceremony was nice. Congratulations to the Peer Leaders! Great big sisterhood from all over the states.” WoVeN Group Member
- “It was great to see beautiful, intelligent and brave women. It’s great that I am among them. This was a great break from my own thoughts to focus on something positive. (I suffer from PTSD).” BRIDGES Service Member
- “My favorite (and honestly pretty healing) was Dr. Heidi. So much in fact I’ve start reading her book! Although the trivia was pretty amazing too!” – WoVeN Peer Leader
- “There is so much excitement and energy amongst the WoVeN sisters it felt like I felt like we were meeting in person.” – WoVeN Trainer
- “This experience was one of the best I have ever had with getting to know ladies on an individual level with the scavenger hunt. The keynote speaker Dr. Heidi was absolutely amazing. There was no stone unturned when it came to this summit! A beautiful time was had.” – WoVeN Trainer
- “The summit was empowering and heartwarming.” – WoVeN Peer Leader
- “When it was time for the comedy show. I wondered if I should attend. But Friday night I am sooooo thankful I pressed my way. I was sitting in my house laughing so loud. I had tears. It was wonderful. I could listen to both of them again. Thank you again.” – WoVeN Peer Leader
- “The Summit was epic, heartfelt, informational, and it will have a long – lasting connection for all of the females who attended. Thank you to all of the people who were involved with planning behind the scenes, up front, guest speakers, donations, sponsors and all who made this Summit a success. Love everyone!!” – WoVeN Peer Leader
- “The virtual platform was so good, it made it easy to network with the ladies and allowed engagement throughout and between sessions. My favorite session this year was the Poetry room. The woman got vulnerable and honest, it was truly therapeutic.” – WoVeN Peer Leader
- “The WoVeN Summit was about connecting with and celebrating our fellow women veterans. The camaraderie of the women during entire event was OFF THE CHARTS!” – BRIDGES Service Member
- “The summit, although virtual was a success! We had the opportunity to share the WoVeN “experience ” with a few ladies in our community that were curious. They’ve found their tribe and are ready to attend our next session. WoVeNStrong!” – WoVeN Trainer
- “Watching WoVeN grow and expand is wondrous. Still blown away that I was named a WoVeN Champion!!” – WoVeN Trainer
- “AWESOME!! TOTALLY UPLIFTING! WoVeN staff & members ROCK! Enjoyed the entire summit, especially Dr. Kraft, poetry session, and being formally recognized as a Legacy member. All so appropriate to the theme.” – WoVeN Legacy
- “Being a part of WoVeN’s first Summit has been such an empowering and rejuvenating experience. This past year has been filled with so many twists and turns, but connecting with my fellow WoVeN sisters in this way has reminded me of how beautiful our community is. We all have different stories and different strengths, but WoVeN is a place where we can all come together to be seen, heard and valued.” – WoVeN Trainer