Advocacy Group Launches New Leadership Development Program for Military Spouses

Military spouses Okinawa Leadership Seminar
Spouses of service members with III Marine Expeditionary Force graduate the Okinawa Leadership Seminar at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, March 1, 2018. (Lance Cpl. Amy Phan/U.S. Marine Corps)

As part of Military Appreciation Month, a nonprofit organization is launching a leadership development program for military spouses in May.

The Military Spouse Advocacy Network (MSAN), which was founded in 2013, will select 50 spouses by committee for the inaugural year of the four-month virtual program that will begin in August. Five sessions, ranging from 2-5 hours, will be held through November, the only month with two planned classes.

Sessions will include training from organizations such as Harvard University's National Preparedness Leadership Initiative; the McChrystal Group, a leadership development firm founded by retired four-star Gen. Stanley McChrystal; Psych Hub; and military and community leaders. The training will focus on a holistic view of leadership, incorporating the whole community, including public health, government and public leadership.

“Military Spouses are considered shakers in our communities because they serve, lead, mentor and advocate for efforts that need improvement. But one thing to consider is that leaders with visions and ideas need guidance and support to know how and when to execute a plan.” Verenice Castillo, founder and chief executive officer of MSAN, said in a news release.

The program, which is free to participating spouses thanks to sponsorship from the Defense Credit Union Council, is open to military spouses of all branches, including the Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve. MSAN hopes to include spouses of veterans, caregivers or Gold Star service members after the first year, said Whitney Armstrong, MSAN vice president of development and strategy.

When completing their applications, spouses should include their commitment to learning, service, mentorship and advocacy, and not be afraid to share experiences where they have encountered a barrier -- even if they haven't found a way to overcome it.

"Selections are based on personal and professional commitment to leadership, a demonstrated desire to develop leadership skills for the sake of greater impact and an established record of community involvement and leadership engagement," Armstrong said.

After completing the program, spouses will receive a leadership certificate from Harvard University as well as micro-certifications in mental health allyship from Psych Hub. The spouses will continue to receive support from MSAN's programs and initiatives, including its alumni network and access for one year to recorded videos from their session.

To apply, visit the MSAN website and submit a résumé, biography, photo and reference letter. Armstrong said photos are not viewed with the application; they are used only in the selection announcement. Applications will open on Friday, May 7 -- Military Spouse Appreciation Day -- and be open through June 11.

-- Rebecca Alwine can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.

Story Continues