Monday, August 19, 2013

One Crazy Week!

Photo Opp with President Bellows
It has been a crazy, "planes, trains, and automobiles" kind of past week for me! I've been coast-hopping, so I'm not totally sure that my body knows that time zone it is in right now. It's the kind of week that will really wear you out! But I wouldn't have missed it for the world! Because rarely do I get to pack so many amazing opportunities into a single seven-day period.

It all started in the run-up to the American Bar Association (ABA) Annual Meeting the weekend before last in San Francisco. I was gearing up to attend on behalf of MSJDN with Rachel Winkler, our VP. We had been trying for months to start a dialogue with ABA President Laurel Bellows. She's a huge supporter of women in the profession, and we were looking for some "mutual mentoring," if you will. We wanted the opportunity to introduce her to our amazing group of dedicated attorneys (men and women, though the men are seriously outnumbered) figuring out how to make the legal profession work while serving this country with a uniformed spouse. And on the flip-side, we wanted her advice about how to increase visibility around, and support for, our licensing mission. 

For two weeks before the Annual Meeting we tried to schedule a meeting, but were told that the schedule was simply too packed. So imagine our surprise when she sets up a call with us the day before we left for San Francisco! She was incredible! It was an amazing conversation, and she ended by telling us to grab her at the ABA Women's Rally the next day to say hi. And you know what? She meant it. She was thrilled to see us, and even agreed to stop for a picture before running to her next (and probably hundredth) meeting of the day.

Rachel and I got to do a number of amazing things at the ABA Meeting, and I will be writing about those experiences in the September issue of Bars and Stripes for MSJDN. 

The short version is, we spoke to dozens of leaders in the legal and military communities, drummed up a ton of support for the work we are doing for military spouse attorneys, and even got to teach brick-and-mortar bar leaders a thing or two about how to use technology to better engage their millennials (after all, who better to do that than a group of lawyers who make up a fast-growing virtual bar association!). It was awesome. 

And it was only made more awesome by the watermelon honey martinis Rachel and I drank to toast an incredibly successful trip (seriously tasty!). All I can say is, I really hope MSJDN sends me again next year!

After two days of ABA meetings in San Francisco, I hopped a plane to DC for yet another amazing experience. MSJDN was invited to brief the Second Lady's Office on the work we are doing for military spouse attorneys (!!) and I had the good fortune of being one of the organization's representatives at the meeting. 

I arrived in DC on a Sunday and spent the evening with our president and a couple of other MSJDN members going over updates and talking about where the organization is headed. 

It was awesome! I love the opportunity to interact in person with people I talk to online all the time. There's just no replacement for that! And honestly, as someone who has spent years as a remote Army wife (in fact, I've only ever been a remote Army wife), MSJDN is the first time I have felt like part of the military community. 

With Ashley (left), and Mary--at the White House!
The meeting with Dr. Biden's staff was great. They do a ton of work (with the First Lady's Office, through Joining Forces) in the military spouse licensing space too, and were eager to hear about our work and how they can help. And we (me, Pres. Mary Reding, and our Treasurer Ashley Donahue) also had the honor of telling Dr. Biden's office about an exciting new project MSJDN is working on in partnership with the ABA.

After the meeting, we spent some time celebrating and going over next steps (because for us there are always next steps), and then I spent some time with Mary's family before hopping a plane back to Houston.

Although the trip was truly amazing, it was the going home that was the best part. I'm blessed and constantly amazed by the opportunities that working with/for military families affords me, but nothing beats going home and hugging my sweet baby boy. Tightly!

With Jake and Samia--Class XXXII Dream Team
The last adventure of my crazy week was a little closer to home. One other thing that I love and spend lots of my time on is my city--Houston! Spend five minutes with me and you'll know where I'm from and why it's awesome. 

Three years ago I had the good fortune of being accepted to Leadership Houston, and of going through its amazing program. Many cities have a similar program, which essentially involves putting together a diverse group of multidisciplinary leaders, teaching them about all aspects of the city, and engaging them in large-scale projects to serve the city and make it a better place. It was an incredible experience! So even after I finished the program I stayed active as a volunteer, and I'm now in my second year serving on LH's board of directors. This year, I will be serving as the Chair for the class that is about to start the program, and will basically be running things with the help of a co-chair (Jake), LH's program director (Samia), and a team of volunteers. We had our orientation last week, just after I got back from DC. It was amazing. We put together such a good group for this class! 

As with most of the last week, the orientation was a mix of excitement at what's ahead (because there are SO MANY good things ahead in each of these projects in which I get to be involved), and sheer terror at just how busy the next year is going to be.

Hey! Go big or go home, right?

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