Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander of Joint Region Marianas, interacts with Sailors and Coast Guardsmen during the 2016 Women's Leadership Symposium. (U.S. Navy/P02 Somers Steelman)

PEARL HARBOR - The Joint Women’s Hawaii Leadership Committee sponsored the 2016 Women’s Leadership Symposium at the Ford Island Conference Center on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Oct. 24-25.

The two-day long symposium marked the first Women’s Leadership Symposium to not only include Sailors from Navy, but also personnel from the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

“We took the program we used last year at Women’s Waterfront Symposium, which was Navy centric, and opened it up to all branches,” said event coordinator Senior Chief Chanda R. Clifton assigned to Afloat Training Group Middle Pacific. “After creating a joint forces committee, we were able to find interrelated topics that when addressed could benefit all women serving, not just Sailors.”

This year’s theme was “Leading with a Purpose: Embracing the Future.”

“We wanted everyone who came to walk away realizing they are a leader, no matter how junior they may be,” said Clifton, “By focusing on leadership, we hope to encourage and shape mentors who will positively impact future women in the armed services.”

The symposium opened with a keynote address from Rear Adm. Babette “Bette” Bolivar, commander of Joint Region Marianas.

“It’s a great honor to kick off such an amazing event,” said Bolivar. “I believe the knowledge being shared here will be instrumental in developing our military’s future leaders.”

The event continued with discussion panels on balancing work-life and leadership through service, a speed mentoring session, several guest speakers, and informational booths.

On the second day, U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief Susan A. Whitman gave the opening remarks, emboldening female Sailors and Coast Guardsman to “lead like a girl,” and encouraged women to flip the barriers women face into strengths.

She urged women at the symposium not to be afraid of failure but to embrace it and learn from it, to put family first even when pursuing a career and to never sit on the side—always sit at the table.

“Women are great at building relationships, empowering others, and turning people’s needs into their own,” said Whitman. “Run like a girl, fight like a girl and lead like a girl. Why? Because it is okay to be a girl.”

U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief Suz Whitman takes a selfie with U.S. Coast Guardsmen during the symposium. (U.S. Navy/P02 Somers Steelman)