In late August, the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program alumni met at the Bush Center for two days of networking, programming, and alumni-led sessions at the 2022 Alumni Reunion.
The halls of George W. Bush Presidential Center were buzzing with excitement last week as the three classes of Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program alumni filed into the building for the first-ever reunion of the veteran-serving leaders. Conversations were filled with powerful project updates, big professional moves, genuine inquiries on the personal lives of peers, and collaborative ideas we will surely see outcomes from soon.
This active network of 126 alumni from the three previous Veteran Leadership Program classes is made up of rising leaders – both veterans and nonveterans – from a wide range of sectors who are working to improve outcomes for the military-connected community. Since their time in the program, they’ve continued to work tirelessly to tackle the challenges affecting veterans, and it was apparent that they were ready to come back together, recharge, and reconnect with other members of this unique network.
“I’m excited for the rejuvenation of energy,” said Derek Moore, 2021 Veteran Leadership Program Scholar. “When you’re back at the Bush Center, you’re just so excited to be here. It sparks so much innovation; it sparks so much excitement. It gives you energy that you may have lost through the monotony and the challenges of your day-to-day, so just seeing this group and being intellectually challenged is amazing.”
The 2022 Alumni Reunion provided 48 hours – packed full of networking, programming, and alumni-led sessions – to do just that.
When these alumni were Scholars in the program, they had many opportunities to hear from nationally recognized leaders in the veteran-serving space. At the reunion, their peers took the stage as experts in their respective fields to provide powerful content and important dialogue about several key issues facing the military-connected community.
In one meeting space, a group of alumni joined their colleague Dylan Tête, Founder and Executive Director of Bastion Community of Resilience, an intentional community in which wounded, ill, or injured veterans live alongside retired military and civilian volunteers. The group discussed how a strong community can act as a support system during veteran transition challenges.
“Study results are conclusive – this nonclinical, community-based intervention is working,” Tête said. “Bastion warriors are making transformative gains and successful life course transitions.”
In another room across the hall, Veteran Leadership Program alumni Jon Horowitch, Kristin Saboe, and Adelle Bish led a discussion on leveraging data on people to create a great place to work. The group explored how leaders can use data to understand, investigate, and resolve human resources issues.
The peer learning and collaboration that occurred during the reunion is a testament to the caliber of the participants in the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program and the network that they have built.
For many program alumni, the network is priceless.
“A lot has happened” since her time in the program, said Misty Fox, 2019 Veteran Leadership Program Scholar. “It has been the members of this group that not only showed up on my doorstep personally to check on me, but also created opportunities professionally for growth, partnerships, and other things that really enriched my journey going forward. It’s not just a group that is LinkedIn worthy – it’s a group that really values connectivity and relationships, and they show that every day.”
The Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program 2022 Alumni Reunion created space for these servant-leaders and changemakers from across the country to come together, recharge, and refocus on the tough issues they’re working to solve. As the final session concluded and alumni reflected on the previous two days, it was easy to sense that their cups had been refilled, and they were more committed than ever to their shared mission.
At the Bush Institute, we’re grateful for this steadfast commitment to our Nation’s veterans and their families.