2023 NATIONAL WOMEN VETERANS LEADERSHIP & DIVERSITY CONFERENCE
We are excited to present a full weekend of interactive workshops, inspiring speakers, and motivating networking events!
Our working conference schedule is below, followed by a list of speakers. Please note that this is a working schedule; times and sessions may change ahead of the conference.
Thursday 10, November 2022
Day 1 Friday, November 11, 2022
Day 2 Saturday, November 12, 2022
Day 3 Sunday, November 13, 2022
Founder & CEO
Women Veterans Interactive Foundation
The Founder and CEO of the Women Veterans Interactive Foundation, Navy Veteran Ginger Miller is an experienced business woman, veterans advocate, subject matter expert, and industry leader. She is a presidential appointee, and she has been recognized by major community stakeholders across multiple sectors. Serving Women Veterans is the honor of her life — and for her, it’s personal.
When she was medically discharged from the Navy, Ginger discovered how difficult transitioning from military to civilian life can be for a woman veteran. Like many women veterans transitioning today, Ginger had no idea where to find the resources and help she so desperately needed. Like many women veterans post-military service, she was ashamed to ask for help when she became homeless with her husband, a Marine Corps Veteran suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and their young son.
Refusing to be defeated and with unrelenting drive and determination, Ginger worked three jobs while attending school full-time in an effort to end the family’s circumstance of homelessness. Deeply rooted in her determination to move forward, Ginger leveraged her experience to help others. She made a personal oath of service to dedicate her life to supporting other women who have served and sacrificed for our country – facing many of the challenges she knows all too well.
Michael F. Kelly
AVP, Military Affairs
Mike leads USAA’s Military Advocacy Group and serves as deputy of Military Affairs. His team builds collaborative relationships focusing on a national dialogue surrounding important veteran and spouse issues such as financial readiness, navigating successful transitions into the civilian workforce, entrepreneurship, and building supportive and impactful military spouse communities. He also manages enterprise-wide programs and projects that sustain relationships between USAA, strategic external partners and military leaders/influencers to promote and enhance USAA’s brand and reputation.
He’s been with USAA since 2003 when he established USAA’s military communications program, later building a comprehensive military influencer program and establishing USAA’s national leadership role as a military-friendly employer.
Mike spent 25 years in the Air Force, both as an NCO and officer before retiring in 2002. While in the military he served as a photojournalist, newspaper editor, chief of public affairs and staff officer at the base and major military command level. He also served as a communications associate professor for four years at DOD’s Defense Information School where he taught future military public affairs communicators. He has multiple deployments to the Former Yugoslav Republic for Operations Able Sentry and Joint Endeavor as a member of the implementation force and supported international communication efforts for Operations Deny Flight, Deliberate Force and Provide Promise.
Mike is a 2019 George W. Bush Veteran Leadership Program scholar and was selected as a 2018 We Are the Mighty – “Mighty 25” influencer for his work in the military-veteran community where he dedicates his time connecting, equipping, and inspiring opportunities that benefit the military community at large. He is also a recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s annual Hiring Our Heroes Colonel Michael Endres Leadership Award for Individual Excellence in Veteran Employment and currently serves on the national Hiring Our Heroes Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Councils, which focus on actions addressing the unique employment challenges veterans and military spouses face. He served for three years on the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce executive board where he was chairman of the Chamber’s Military Affairs Council. He now serves as a member of the Society of Human Resource Manager Foundation’s Military Advisory Committee focusing on helping employees build knowledge, awareness and change in the policies, practices and culture that can hinder the success of the military community in the civilian workplace.
He has a BAAS degree with an emphasis in journalism and public relations from Southwest Texas State University and a master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma.
Joseph Montanaro, CFP
Relationship Director, Military Advocacy Group Military Affairs
Joseph Montanaro, CFP®, Relationship Director, Military Advocacy Group Military Affairs, Brand at USAA. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional (CFP®). He is a native of Kansas City and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. He is a member of the Financial Planning Association.
Montanaro has more than twenty years of experience in the financial services industry as a financial planner and joined USAA in 2002. Before entering the financial services industry, he served in the US Army for six years on active duty and in 2009 he retired as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Reserve.
JJ’s daily focus has been to help families realize their goals and his advice has appeared in numerous outlets including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNNMoney.com and the New York Times. He writes monthly personal finance columns for Military Spouse Magazine and American Legion Magazine and hosts the USAA Money Drill podcast.
Captain Kelly O. Elmore
Chief of Staff
Medical Corps, United States Navy
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Captain Kelly Elmore graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree from Xavier University of Louisiana. She received a Doctor of Medicine degree from The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California.
She completed post-graduate training at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
During her Naval career, CAPT Elmore has served in a variety of leadership positions, including: Department Head, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton (NHCP), California; Department Head, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Naval Hospital Guam; Director, Healthcare Business Operations, NHCP, Senior Obstetrician Gynecolgist, Branch Health Clinic, Iwakuni and Director, Healthcare Business Operations and Interim Executive Officer, NMCSD.
Throughout her career, CAPT Elmore has sought opportunities to enhance health care delivery, improve access to women’s health services, and develop collaborative health service partnerships with the military medical departments and the Veterans Health Administration. She has been a military consultant for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Sciences Lab OBGYN Process Improvement Project and co-authored research and a joint services handbook on The Prevalence of Peripartum Depression in Military Families. Additionally, in concert with her NMCSD Health Care Business team and fellow board of directors, they established a new Kaiser Permanente San Diego/ Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command partnership to expand military personnel’s knowledge, skills and abilities related to critical wartime specialties. Subsequently, the team received two multi-million dollar Joint Incentive Fund Grants to improve global tele-critical care and bolster surgical care for military and VA beneficiaries.
CAPT Elmore was recognized by the Secretary of Defense, Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity for her mentorship, advocacy and sponsorship. Her military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (3), and the Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation. She was also recognized by San Diego Magazine as the Military Woman of the Year (2021).
COL (RET), AN, DNP, RN-BC
President and CEO, Optum Serve Preparedness & Emergency Response
LaShanda Cobbs is the President and CEO of Optum Serve Preparedness & Emergency Response (OSPER). Building upon Optum Serve’s exceptional response to the COVID-19 pandemic, LaShanda leads a business unit to help customers prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from public health emergencies and other contingencies by leveraging organizational capabilities and technical solutions from across the UnitedHealth Group enterprise.
LaShanda’s business provides strategic and operational end-to-end process responsibility for COVID-19 testing and vaccine administration program management across hundreds of sites in 35 states and territories for contracts totaling approximately $1.7 billion. Under her leadership, OSPER has built strong relationships with public health leaders at the federal, state and local levels, positioning us to pivot the core capabilities we developed during pandemic response to address health equity gaps in these underserved rural and urban communities. LaShanda has been recognized by Federal Health IT for her extraordinary leadership during the global pandemic response.
Prior to joining Optum Serve, LaShanda spent one year as the Principle Health Practice and Systems Analyst at the Mitre Corporation, where she developed organizational plans and strategies to improve the effectiveness of both operational and care delivery processes.
LaShanda previously served in the U.S. Army for more than 30 years, eventually retiring at the rank of Colonel. She held several key leadership duty assignments, including Director of the Atlantic Region Office of the Inspector General; Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Army Health Clinic in Wiesbaden, Germany and Chief Operations Officer for Nursing and Patient Care Services at U.S. Army, Bethesda, Maryland and the Pentagon. In each position, she led process improvements and streamlined operations, prioritizing zero impact to services. LaShanda holds a Doctorate Nursing Practice (DNP) and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Health Systems Leadership degree from Duke University, North Carolina; and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Georgia Southern University. In addition to her responsibilities at Optum Serve, LaShanda serves as Adjunct Assistant.
Professor at the Master of Science in Health Systems Administration Program for Georgetown School of Nursing and Georgetown School of Health, Washington D.C.
LaShanda is committed to giving back. She serves as the Region 2 Board Member for the Army Nurse Corps
Association and is a Board Member for the DukeDC Regional Board.
Cheryl Rawls, MPA
Executive Director, Outreach, Transition & Economic Developmen
Veterans Benefits Administration
Cheryl J. Rawls was appointed as Executive Director for Outreach, Transition and Economic Development on April 26, 2021. She is responsible for department-wide, Veteran and family-centric outreach and direct services, community stakeholder engagement, and Veteran service recovery programs throughout VBA’s 4 Districts and 56 Regional Offices.
She oversees VA’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) at over 300 installations worldwide for active duty, Reservist, and National Guard Personnel across all branches of Service: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. As each earned and provided benefit has an economic coupling, she is responsible for ensuring knowledge is transferred and aligned with the military life cycle that empowers right choices at the right time. She provides direct oversight of the Overseas Military Service Coordinator program that connects Veterans living overseas to their benefits and she operates all 14 of VBA’s Veteran special emphasis programs.
A decorated Army Veteran, Cheryl has held multiple leadership positions within Veterans Affairs for two decades. She holds a bachelor of science in business management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and she holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of the District of Columbia.
Learn more about Cheryl here: https://docs.house.gov/meetings/VR/VR09/20220208/114386/HHRG-117-VR09-Bio-RawlsC-20220208-U1.pdf
Chanty R. Clay, PhD
SVP, Diverse Segments Leader, Chief Administrative Officer
Chanty Clay began her career with Wells Fargo in May 2008 and is currently the WIM DCS Chief Administrative Officer where she leads and manages WIM’s diversity strategies and initiatives in support of growing the business and increasing diverse representation. Prior to this role, Chanty was the Head of Team Member Philanthropy where she led enterprise-wide strategies and programs focused on the employee experience in volunteerism, service, and leadership in communities.
Chanty brings 25+ years of experience in human resources, strategic consulting, training, and organizational development. Chanty’s previous roles include HR Consulting Partner Leader, HR Manager at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Training & Organizational Development Manager at Edward Jones.
Chanty is also a 10-year veteran of the United States Air Force during which time she completed the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) and was also a diversity manager. Chanty holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education with a concentration in Workforce Training and Professional Development from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. In August 2019, Chanty co-wrote an article: Experiences of Women Veterans within the Private Sector: Examining the Intersection of Gender and Veteran Status which was published in the Human Resources Development Quarterly Journal.
Chanty continues to mentor several employees and enjoys coaching, consulting, and supporting veterans – especially women veterans in the development and enhancement of their post-military career. She also enjoys spending time with her husband, Darryl Clay, and with her immediate family.
SVP, External Engagements
Wells Fargo & Company
Shantae began at Wells Fargo 9 years ago. She has been recognized for her initiative to serve people and achieve progress through strategic skill building, agile methodologies, and Human Resource (HR)/Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Consulting expertise.
Today, Shantae is a National Constituents Relationship Manager leading our higher education diverse scholarship funds, Wells Fargo dependent scholarships and the OneTen upskilling/career mobility for individuals who do not have a college degree. She is focused on providing diverse students and consumers access to resources, scholarships, mentoring, career and leadership development and comprehensive financial wellness training.
She was previously on HR Leadership team where she developed comprehensive human capital strategies and metrics at the Operating Committee level. As a HR Leader, Shantae influenced change, championed diversity, and delivered results.
Her tenacity and leadership skills are a direct result of her service in the United States Air Force, District Recruiting Manager, Branch Manager, and Workforce Development Leader. After a 12-year successful career she started her own HR Consulting firm focused on DE&I talent strategies & permanent placement for small businesses and non-profits. Her drive, perseverance, and commitment earned her the Minority Women Business Enterprise Award for helping North Kansas City organizations achieve results in diverse representation & progress in underserved communities.
Shantae holds an MBA in Project Management and Bachelor of Administration Degree in Human Resources. She resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband; four adult children & two grandchildren.
Counsel, Legal Department
Wells Fargo & Company
Heather LoBue is counsel in the Regulatory Enforcement and Internal Investigation Section of Wells Fargo Legal Department. This Section has primary responsibility and oversight for all of the Company’s regulatory enforcement matters involving federal and state regulators, as well as various self-regulatory organizations. In addition, the Section leads all privileged internal investigations for the Legal Department. She also serves as the legal liaison for the Conduct Management Office’s Enterprise Investigations unit and for the Special Surveillance and Review unit under Compliance.
Heather was part of the Wells Fargo Advisors’ inaugural class of Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellows in fall 2019 and joined the Wells Fargo legal team in January 2020. Before joining Wells Fargo, Heather had a successful career in the United States Air Force rising to the rank of Colonel before transitioning after 28-years as a judge advocate (JAG).
Heather earned a Juris Doctor from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami. She holds a graduate certificate in Organizational Management from The George Washington University and an International Affairs certification from the U.S. Air Force. She is admitted to practice in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the state bars of Georgia, Florida, and Missouri.
In her free time, Heather enjoys running, reading a good book, learning a new skill, traveling, and spending time her family.
Le Nette Rutledge
SVP, Diverse Segments, Representation and Inclusion
Le Nette’s ‘why’ in life is, “…to courageously and compassionately impart excellence in every life, place and situation” presented to her. She is the Senior Lead Diversity & Inclusion Consultant for Wells Fargo’s Wealth & Investment business unit. In this capacity, lending her expertise and skills to support Wells Fargo in its commitment to increased focus and action related to diverse representation throughout the organization as well as strategies and products that benefit diverse customer communities.
In her previous role she served as the Head of Military Talent Programs, leading the team responsible for engaging, developing, and retaining members of the military talent community once they have selected Wells Fargo as their employer of choice.
She served in the United States Navy for ten years. Her specialties included Naval Instructor, Naval Recruiter and Anti-submarine Warfare.
She holds a B.A. in political science from Norfolk State University and Lean Six-Sigma green belt, Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) as well as various career, life, and executive coaching certifications.
Le Nette relaxes by attending/watching Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events.
Learning and Development Senior Consultant
Christeen Kilgore is a Learning and Development Senior consultant on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) training team. Christeen is responsible for oversight and management of the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion skills and competencies with a focus on building an inclusive work environment.
Since joining Wells Fargo in 2018, Christeen has led the talent DE&I recruiting strategies and targeted sourcing and served as the company’s program manager for the Employee Referral Program as a Business Initiatives Consultant for Talent Acquisition Strategy and Delivery (TASD).
Christeen is a 22-year retired Command Sergeant Major, E-9, U.S. Army veteran. She is a member of the Society of Human Resources Management, a Toastmasters member and former membership vice president, and currently serves as a board member for the Veterans Employee Resource Network (ERN). Christeen holds a master’s degree in Human Resources Management, Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources (SHRM-SCP), and Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.
Christeen resides in Charlotte, NC and is a native of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she often returns to enjoy happy tides and beach vibes with friends and family.
Tanya J. Bradsher
Chief of Staff
Department of Veterans Affairs
Tanya Bradsher was selected by Secretary Denis McDonough to serve as the Chief of Staff for Veterans Affairs. As Chief of Staff, Ms. Bradsher is the senior advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary in the federal government’s second-largest Cabinet department, with a budget of more than $246 billion and over 424,000 employees serving in VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices, and national cemeteries.
Ms. Bradsher is a combat Veteran who served for 20 years in the United States Army. She enlisted in 1993 and was commissioned in 1994 from the Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Her major assignments included Spokesperson on the White House National Security Council for the Department of Defense, Asia, Africa, Western Hemisphere, counter-terrorism, and detainee policies; Defense Press Officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs at the Pentagon; Brigade Public Affairs Officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Deputy Public Affairs officer, 8th U.S. Army; Commander, Delta Company 516th Battalion, and Executive Officer, 1st Replacement Company, 8th Personnel Support Command.
Prior to being named VA’s Chief of Staff, Ms. Bradsher served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement on the National Security Staff in the Executive Office of the President. She previously served as the Chief of Staff to Congressman Don Beyer in Virginia’s 8th District. Before working on the Hill, Ms. Bradsher was the Chief of Communications for the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Prior to joining APA, she served at the Defense Health Agency as the Chief for Communications Plans and Operation in the Office of Public Affairs.
Read more about Ms. Bradsher’s experiences and accomplishments here!
Managing Director, Federal Advisory
Ms. Pamela Powers joined KPMG in March of 2021 as a Managing Director & leads the Transformation Delivery service for KPMG’s Federal sector. In this role she helps organizations develop solutions to complex challenges by leveraging data, technology, & business process improvement, while driving effective change management. She also serves in an advisory role for several other organizations including the Women Veterans Interactive Foundation, Kinometrix, the Leadership Council for Women in National Security, & the Partnership for Public Service.
Prior to this, she served as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Chief of Staff when, on April 2, 2020, the President chose her to serve as Acting Deputy Secretary. In that role, Ms. Powers led enterprise modernization of the federal government’s second-largest Cabinet department with a budget of more than $218 billion & over 400,000 employees serving in VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices, & national cemeteries across the country.
Before joining VA, Powers was chief of staff to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness where she was responsible for day-to-day operations for Department of Defense’s Total Force Management as it relates to readiness, National Guard & Reserve components, health, training, & personnel requirements & management.
Collectively, Powers has over 30 years of service in the Air Force, the Department of Defense & VA. Powers retired as an Air Force Colonel in 2018. She is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, was a Defense Fellow in the office of Senator Susan Collins (ME) & holds master’s degrees from the Army War College & the University of Phoenix.
Powers’ awards & honors include: the Legion Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service, the Civilian Exceptional Service Award, a HillVets 2019 Top 100 Most Influential & Impactful Veteran & Supporter; a MIGHTY 25/Top 25 Strongest Leaders & Most Passionate Advocates in 2020; the 2020 Women Leading for Impact Award.
The Honorable Cheryl L. Mason
Executive Director, Veteran & Military Spouse Talent Engagement Program
Dept. of Veterans Affairs
The Honorable Cheryl L. Mason currently serves as the Executive Director for Veterans and Military Spouse Talent Engagement for the Department of Veterans Affairs. In this position, Ms. Mason provides executive-level direction and expertise leading a department-wide program dedicated to building partnerships and promoting recruitment, employment, and retention of Veterans, military spouses, caregivers, survivors, and family members in VA to support military readiness and retention, financial stability, food security, and suicide prevention, and support transitioning Veterans. She was recently awarded the Hiring Our Heroes Bonnie Amos Lifetime Achievement Impact Award by the US Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to assuming this role, Ms. Mason served for nearly 5 years as the first woman and military spouse Chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board). She was fourth Senate confirmed and appointed Chairman by the President, serving from November 2017 and until August 2022. As Chairman, Ms. Mason led a team of approximately 1200 personnel including Veterans Law Judges, attorneys, and operations and administrative professionals, and developed and managed budgets from $170 million to $285 million to meet the Board’s mission of conducting hearings and deciding appeals on benefits and services for Veterans and their families. During her tenure, the Board implemented several technological innovations to include the interactive decision template (IDT), CASEFLOW – a modernized end to end process of tracking claims and appeals through the Department, and Virtual Tele-hearings, which revolutionized the hearing process and improve both customer experience and employee experience by enabling Veterans to have hearings on their cell phones at locations of their choice. She expanded the corps of Veterans Law Judges, recommending and onboarding over 70 new Veterans Law Judges, and expanding the Board’s budget to support people, process, and technology to improve access and outcomes for Veterans and their families. She also championed and implemented the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) appeals process putting veterans at the center of the appeals process giving them choice, control, and clarity in the appeals process. The Honorable Mason delivered results – increasing access and outcomes for veterans and their families by nearly doubling the number of hearings held and decisions issued in less than 4 years and driving the resolution of legacy appeals from over 472,000 to less than 92,000 during her tenure, an 80% resolution rate. Ms. Mason was recognized by Disabled American Veterans as the 2021 Outstanding Federal Executive and was a recipient of the FedHealthIT 2020 Leading for Impact: Women in Leadership Award.
Read more about The Honorable Mason’s honors and accomplishments here: