Women’s Leadership Symposium: Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz

Over 1,300 military men and women are attending the 2011 Women’s Leadership Symposium this week. From sailors who returned from deployment just a week ago to two-star admirals, the conference’s attendees are all here to “Connect. Empower. Succeed.” Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz was one of the attendees at the conference and the Compass sat down with her to discuss her unique leadership experiences, her hopes for the future of our service and her perspective on the ways in which gatherings to relate the seemingly disparate experiences of America’s armed services makes each of us stronger.

Coast Guard Compass: Over the past couple of days, women from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have been given the opportunity to share stories of serving at sea, in the air and on foreign soil. As we discuss both the similarities and differences of each of the services, what do you think we can learn from each other?

Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz

Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz participates in a mentoring session at the 2011 Women’s Leadership Symposium held this week. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry Dunphy.

Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz: It is a necessity that this conference includes all branches of the armed forces because no more are any of the branches operating in the means that our services were born. We are all interoperable and I saw this on a recent visit to a Coast Guard RAID team in Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.

At Camp Arifjan there are Coast Guard people wearing Army uniforms, with Army personal protective equipment, being flown by Air Force pilots. If we are all operating together and continuing to strengthen our partnerships, there is no way we can have just a few entities here at this conference.

Another thing we can learn is diversity and what exactly it means. We always think of diversity in certain terms, and you wouldn’t think this group is diverse, because we are all women. But this is a diverse group here today, and bringing in women from the different services is where our strength comes.

Compass: As the former commanding officer of Cape May, current Director of Reserve and Leadership and the future superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, you are poised to have a significant impact on the next generation of Coast Guard men and women. When people discuss your career of service, what kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind?

Stosz: I would like to leave the next generation in the long, blue line of officer and enlisted leaders and followers with the character, culture and core values needed to selflessly serve the Coast Guard and nation in an increasingly uncertain world.

Female general officer panel

Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, left, participates in a general officer panel at the 2011 Women’s Leadership Symposium alongside Maj. Gen. Tracy Garrett, Lt. Cmdr. Jean Marie Sullivan, Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, Brig. Gen. Lee Price and Vice Adm. Carol Pottenger. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry Dunphy.

It’s a volatile world and I think of what kind of new people – new seamen and new officers – do we need. You know, you can teach knot tying to a recruit and math to a cadet but in the end, getting a person who can understand a bigger picture is an essential.

I’ve always been the kind of person who has been an incremental person. I don’t have too many moments of inflection or ‘Aha’ moments. I take a steady approach and learn something new everyday to achieve an outcome. I would like to be known as a steady, strategic leader who kept pushing in a direction so that the service and its people can succeed and get the mission done.

Compass: Earlier in the conference you spoke about leadership to 1,300 men and women on a general officer panel. This is the largest gathering of military women in the United States, and members from each service are collaborating to talk about issues each service faces. What do members gain from coming together at events such as this?

Stosz: I go away with from this conference once again reminded of the power of the people. The power and the passion of the people is really what makes our Coast Guard great. It’s why we all stay. And when you come into a room like this with all the services present, you realize yes, you are part of the Coast Guard, but you are also part of the armed forces.

The more senior I get, the more I realize it all derives from the passion of the people who are serving for a common cause. I think its just a wonderful opportunity and will continue to support these kind of events.

Rear Adm. Stosz mentoring session

Rear Admiral Sandra L. Stosz currently serves as Director of Reserve and Leadership. She is responsible for developing policies to recruit, train and support over 8,000 Coast Guard reservists. This summer, she will assume command of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry Dunphy.

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4 Responses

  1. Lena says:

    At times women work hard in leadership positions who end up flying under the radar. An example of this, is an article I read recognizing a Lt for being the first female helicopter pilot ever in the Coast Guard in 2010, when I remember a female Hispanic pilot being part of COMPASS in the 90’s. She was the first female Hispanic pilot ever and the Coast Guard’s “poster child” for Hispanic recruiting. Not sure what her full name was but everyone called her “Mandy”. She was from Puerto Rico and made wonderful strides to make the COMPASS program a success. She was an outstanding leader who made the Coast Guard shine, receiving honors for top female aviator and . What a slap in the face. She has been forgotten.

  2. LTJG S. M. Young says:

    Lena,

    Thank you for your comment. We try to do our best here at Compass to acknowledge the accomplishments of the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard. In April 2010, Compass posted on Lt. j.g. La’Shanda Holmes and her winging, when she became the first African American female helicopter pilot in the Coast Guard. You can read that post at the below link:

    Lt. Colleen Cain, Coast Guard Aviator #1988, was the service’s first female helicopter pilot and flew the HH-52A. Tragically, on January 7, 1982, she died in the line of duty along with two other crew members, Cmdr. Horton Johnson and Petty Officer 2nd Class David Thompson. Cain Hall, a 100-room residence at Training Center Yorktown, is dedicated in her honor.

    The name “Mandy” did not come up in my initial searches of Coast Guard history, so I reached out to the Coast Guard historians. They are currently looking in their records, and I will let you know when I hear more.

    We appreciate you speaking up about someone who you feel has been forgotten and hope we can rectify this.

    Very Respectfully,
    LTJG S. M. Young
    Coast Guard Public Affairs

  3. LS says:

    The person for which you are searching is LCDR (ret) Marilyn “Mandy” Dykman. I worked with her for a short period when I was a LTJG. She is an exceptional person, an oustanding mentor, a great H65 aviator, and has been truly a trailblazer for our service. Trailblazers like her , RADM Stosz, and LTJG Holmes represent the best of our service and make me believe our future is a bright one. Hoo-rah Team Coastguard!

    v/r,

    LS

  4. LTJG S. M. Young says:

    LS,

    Thanks for the reply and the information on Lt. Cmdr. Dykman. This will help our historians greatly!

    Very Respectfully,
    LTJG S. M. Young
    Coast Guard Public Affairs