SURFPAC Hosts Women's Symposium
Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) – Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) hosted the 2016 San Diego Women's Waterfront Symposium at Naval Base San Diego, Oct. 24. More than 200 Sailors from across San Diego attended the symposium. They gathered to discuss effective leadership and success tools, current women's initiatives among the surface force and to ask questions about issues that affect women serving in the Navy.

Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces, delivered the opening remarks for the symposium. He encouraged Sailors to work together to change the surface navy for the better and to eliminate issues going forward. A philosophy that is supported by the theme for this year’s symposium, “Leading With Purpose: Impacting Our Future”.

“As a Navy we need to work together so that in 10 years the problems we have today are no more,” said Rowden. “As surface warriors we must always be learning, improving and embracing new ideas - building upon the basics to improve the future of our Navy.”

The keynote speaker for the event was Capt. Yvette Davids, currently assigned to U.S. 3rd Fleet as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Requirements, Innovation, and Experimentation. Davids’ leadership roles also include command of USS Curts (FFG 38) and the guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52). Davids stressed the need for strong leadership in today’s Navy but she also encouraged the symposium attendees to connect with their fellow Sailors and understand their needs and the value their service brings.

“In your development as a warrior we can’t overlook the basics of human interaction,” said Davids. “Fundamentally, warfare is a human endeavor; leadership is accomplishing the Navy mission through our people. People are our most important weapon systems, they are also our most complicated, and they don’t come with handbook instructions. Your job as a leader is to figure them out.”

The symposium featured panel discussions on Work-Life Balance and Leadership, as well as an open discussion where Sailors had the opportunity to ask senior officer and enlisted leaders about their personal experiences.

"We are here to bring leaders together with the women on the waterfront to allow them to connect and discuss real issues," said Lt. Matt Lovato, SURFPAC's force diversity officer. "Currently we are working to integrate the Navy as much as possible and we need to get to a point where your age, race, gender or sexual orientation doesn’t matter, but what does matter is the Sailor."

Topics ranged from women and leadership at sea, transgenderism in the Navy, spouse programs for male and same-sex spouses and a work-life balance that meets personal and professional needs.

“As someone who is a female and still relatively new to the Navy, I’ve really enjoyed listening and hearing the stories and experiences from our leadership,” said Fireman Kim Edey assigned to Beachmaster Unit (BMU) 1. “They really instilled the message in me that if they can accomplish their goals in the Navy, so can I.”

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