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Winning With Women Wednesdays – An Interview With Bonnie Butlin, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Security Partners’ Forum (SPF)

An Interview With Bonnie Butlin, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Security Partners’ Forum (SPF)


Bonnie Butlin, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Security Partners’ Forum (SPF)

Bonnie Butlin is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Security Partners’ Forum (SPF), the first-of-its-kind agile network of security professionals, with a global footprint.  She is also the International Coordinator of the Women in Security & Resilience Alliance (WISECRA), a non-hierarchical “plug-and-play” construct that brings together various women in security and resilience associations / organizations from across the globe to network and share best practices.  Bonnie serves on a variety of boards and committees related to security, resilience, and defence including the Vimy Report Board, the Domestic Preparedness Advisory Committee, and the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME). Since 2013, Bonnie has been a recipient of six international awards and honors for her work including being named as a finalist for the Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) Women of Influence Awards (Private Solutions Provider Category), winner of the Professional Security Magazine’s Women in Security Awards -Security Manager/End User Category (2015), named to Vanguard Magazine’s People in Defence List (2015), recipient of CSO Magazine’s Compass Award (2015), inducted into the International Women in Homeland Security and Emergency Management Hall of Fame (2014), and was named to Security Magazine’s Most Influential in Security international list for 2013. She was the sole author of a commissioned study for the Federal Court of Canada on National Security and the Administration of Justice.  Bonnie’s educational background includes a Certificate in Corporate Security Executive Leadership from the Burrill Green Corporate Security Business School, a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Carleton University and an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Calgary.

1. Bonnie, please share with us what your current position as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Security Partners’ Forum entails?

I manage the day-to-day operations of the Security Partners’ Forum, the first-of-its-kind agile network of the security community with an international footprint on all seven continents. In addition to managing our operations, various platforms, and business lines, I provide strategic leadership for the organization, facilitate partnerships and collaborations, and monitor, analyze and research emerging strategic issues and trends.

2. What is the Security Partners’ Forum mission?

The SPF works to build capacity within the international security community, including but not limited to defence, intelligence, law enforcement, public safety, emergency management, disaster recovery, business continuity, fraud examination, physical security and cyber security. The SPF works with professional associations and security professionals globally to enhance resilience and build on hard-earned lessons learned and a global body of knowledge in a collaborative and highly efficient manner.

3. Saw that you are also the International Coordinator for the Women In Security & Resilience Alliance (WISECRA) how did that organization come about?

WISECRA developed from what was identified as a need to link women’s security and resilience-related organizations and expand their reach internationally, and a need to facilitate and accelerate mentorship and opportunities for women. The international network would allow women and their colleagues to share international best practices and lessons learned, without taking away from existing and much needed national-level and sub-national efforts. WISECRA does so without creating an umbrella group that would supersede existing groups or otherwise create a hierarchy of organizations. The WISECRA structure allows for rapid communication among women’s security organizations and professionals globally.

4. What was the hardest challenge you encountered in launching WISECRA?

Mapping the international landscape for women in security & resilience groups took considerable time and effort, and was immensely valuable. Once organizations were identified, the vision and synergistic nature of the network relative to existing national and sub-national groups were communicated and enhanced. The speed with which WISECRA has grown and its outstanding results – even in such a very short period of time – in my mind, speaks to the value of the platform and confirms the potential of the network.

5. What’s unusual about the organizations you currently advise or sit on the board for?

In addition to the SPF and WISECRA, I have been very fortunate to have been invited to serve on a number of committees, councils and boards within the defence, intelligence and security communities, such as the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME)/The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP) Public-Private Collaboration Committee (PPCC); the Domestic Preparedness Advisory Committee (formerly the DomPrep 40); and the Vimy Report Board.

Being able to work alongside such distinguished professionals has been tremendously beneficial for my own professional development and has deeply enhanced my contextualized understanding of issues and solution sets. Individually, these bodies are unique and specialized; in combination they have provided unparalleled depth to my work.

6. How do you overcome obstacles?

I believe strongly in the initiatives that I am involved with, and I am encouraged by the professionalism of the people that I work with, both at home and abroad. When you believe in the rightness, and even necessity, of what you are doing, and that the profession will be left better off for it, it is easier to sustain momentum even when faced by obstacles. Within the security and resilience domains, there is always a natural sense of urgency to our work, perhaps even more so in a global environment that is inter-connected and mobile, yet increasingly unstable.

7. More women than men earn college degrees, and increasingly, advanced degrees. Notably, they earn almost half of advanced business degrees. Yet, women only represent 16.9 percent of board of directors at Fortune 500 companies. Do you think the conversation around women and leadership is just about power? Why or Why not?

We need to redouble efforts to enable talented and motivated individuals to contribute effectively and in meaningful ways at all levels and across all disciplines and domains of security and resilience, within the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

While there is much room for improvement, there is also much room for optimism – security and resilience professionals are motivated to work together in order to find solutions to urgent problems and threats, and this can be built upon.

8. What does it mean to you for women to be invited to the table and to have a “voice” in meetings? Why do you feel it is imperative to have women in the workplace?

Full participation by women is important in a number of ways. In my work it is important to go directly to the source and primary materials whenever possible and understand information and perspectives with the least filters as possible. Similarly, women need to be direct participants in conversations and deliberations, rather than more often than not being, effectively, represented (a type of filter in itself). Direct and robust expression of thoughts, ideas, and concepts benefits organizations and I believe the broader communities. Having a seat at the table is not only an opportunity to contribute directly, but provides a “weight of presence” to both the message and the messenger. Security and resilience professionals have had to push for a seat at the table in the C-suite, so in a sense, these communities may again have the potential to be a leader and make great strides in this respect.

9. If you are speaking to an audience of women students in the security & resilience domains, what three pieces of advice would you give them?

1. Persist – we will all be better off for it. I have to believe that hard work will pay off and have an effect over time, even when progress seems to move like molasses and plans have to be re-worked.

2. Believe – in your own potential and that of your colleagues.

3. Do not be too hard on yourself – work/life/family balance is more of an imperfect and shifting equilibrium than a simple ratio of your time. Be flexible enough to seize opportunities, enjoy the journey, and benefit from your own creative down-time.

10. In 2014, Sheryl Sandberg launched a campaign to ban the word “Bossy” to empower girls to lead. How can women manage the perceptions around assertiveness or being labeled “bossy”, particularly when they are often judged more harshly than men?

Stereotypes, sexism and harassment are still major challenges, and may even be resurging in some corners. Even seemingly small actions, such as the words we use, can minimize or even preclude the contributions of women and other colleagues. This is an extravagant waste of human talent at a time when we can ill-afford it and when solutions are critically needed. Every writer, journalist and communications professional knows all too well that words hold meaning and that their selection matters for the effect that they have. This holds true for how words affect women and how words affect the security profession.

11. Have you mentored women throughout your career? If so, what are three best tips you can give them for success? How important do you think it is for men to mentor women in the workplace? Has there been a woman who has influenced or mentored you in your professional career?

I would like to be a mentor and feel that I have now reached a stage in my career where I could have something to offer in terms of mentorship. I find that mentorship itself is a highly effective way to identify and raise talent for strategic effect within our communities and professions. Mentorship programs need broad support and participation among leaders and personnel throughout organizations in order to impart lessons-learned and transfer knowledge. I have benefited tremendously from the mentorship of both men and women across the defence, intelligence and security professions.

12. What do you think are the three most valuable skills needed by women in order to succeed in the Security & resilience domains?

I would say conviction, collaboration and optimism.


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MILSPRAY™ Digital Marketing Manager to Attend National Cyber Security Awareness Meeting at Kearny Bank

Natalie Adis, Digital Marketing Manager

Natalie Adis,
Digital Marketing Manager

Natalie Adis is MILSPRAY’s Digital Marketing Manager. Adis began her career at MILSPRAY™ as a Social Media Strategist Intern and worked her way to a full-time Digital Marketing Manager role.

Prior to her coming to MILSPRAY™, Natalie had been and still remains the Founder and Owner of the Digital Marketing Agency, Social Splash Guru. As a Hootsuite™ Ambassador and Google Partner she remains an active participant as a Subject Matter Expert in Digital Marketing. She was also featured in Zazzle Media’s Article, “Expert Tips for Impactful Content Distribution.”

She holds both a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities (Spanish Studies) and a Master of Business Administration in Global Marketing from Georgian Court University.

Today, Natalie will be in attendance at the National Cyber Security Awareness Meeting held at the Kearny Bank Office located in Point Pleasant, NJ from 8:00am – 10:00am.

To learn more visit our website: Click Here

Follow Us on Twitter: @MILSPRAY

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Winning With Women Wednesday: An Interview With Dorothy Reed, Co-Founder & President of the Sisters Network of Central New Jersey

Winning With Women

Dorothy Reed Picture

Dorothy Reed, Co-Founder & President, Sisters Network of Central New Jersey

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and on this Winning With Women Wednesday we have a special guest interview, Dorothy Reed, Co-Founder & President of the Sisters Network of Central New Jersey and a breast cancer survivor. Dorothy Reed became a breast cancer survivor in 1998. After a mastectomy and treatments, Dorothy dedicated herself to spreading the gospel of early detection in the African American community. In the absence of local support or culturally sensitive resources for African American women diagnosed with the disease, Dorothy formed the Sisters Network of Central New Jersey (SNCNJ) in 2000 with three other breast cancer survivors. SNCNJ is an affiliate chapter of Sisters Network Inc., a National African American Breast Cancer Survivorships Organization based in Houston, TX. 

Active in her community, Dorothy’s services includes board membership on:

• St. Peter’s Hospital Cancer Community Public Education
• Robert Wood Johnson Univ. Hospital Community Relations Committee
• NJCEED Statewide Cancer Coalition

Dorothy spearheads five SNCNJ’s outreach projects with annual events aimed at educating, supporting and bringing awareness to women with breast cancer: the 5K Breast Cancer Awareness Race/Walk 4 Life is the largest event. She facilitates monthly survivors’ meetings and frequently guest-speaks at corporate workshops, senior citizen complexes, auxiliaries, sororities, churches and schools.

On a national level, Dorothy is one of the original advocates for HR Bill 5116, the Dean and Betty Gallo Cancer Patient Compassion Act. She has spent extensive time on Capitol Hill with the National Breast Cancer Coalition. She is an active participant in the Komen Foundation’s letter-writing campaign for free mammograms. And in May 2005, Dorothy was selected to participate on the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program committee for the U. S. Army Medical Research Command.

Dorothy has received numerous honors and awards including an appearance in a 2005 National Television Commercial Campaign by Astra Zeneca “If You Were My Sister” and was selected in 2006 as one of Lifetime Hero’s by Lifetime Television. She retired from Telcordia Technologies Inc. (formerly AT&T) after 30 years of service. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Pillar College; is a member of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, Somerset; and resides in Piscataway, New Jersey with her husband James.

Get to Know Dorothy

1. When were you diagnosed and at what age?

Diagnosed in October 1998 at age 45

2. What stage were you diagnosed with?

Stage 2 breast cancer

3. How was the cancer initially detected? (i.e. through a BSE, a CBE or an annual mammogram)

I was doing my monthly breast self-examine when I felt the lump.

4. How did you feel when you first received the news?

Devastated, my legs were weak and I could hardly leave the doctor’s office.

5. Is there a family history of breast cancer?

No family history.

6. Did you have a support network? If not, how did you overcome it or find it? If so, who were they?

I did not have a support network, but I quickly built one. I spoke to everyone I knew and eventually met three other survivors and we formed the Sisters Network of Central NJ because of the lack of culturally sensitive resources for African American women. We are dying more and yet, there were no resources at most support group meetings I attended at local hospitals.

7. Tell me about your treatment process.

Routine – surgery, chemo, radiation. I started surgery in Oct. 1998 and in January 1999 began chemo. My last radiation treatment was October 1999. My red/white cell count stayed so low my treatment would be postponed. I had to have monthly procrit shots and give myself shots.
Surgery – I cried because I did not feel sick and maybe they had mixed up my film and I really didn’t have
breast cancer. A breast cancer survivor visited me and said – “Do the surgery I know many women who didn’t and they are not here today”. These words made me want to fight for my life.
Chemo – Afraid of losing my hair, cried, “What will I look like”.
Radiation – Extreme fatigue

8. Were there any programs or services offered to you that would help with the treatment process?

I attended support group meetings at local hospitals.

9. Did you face any obstacles during your treatment process? If so, how did you overcome these obstacles?

I had to give myself shots every month because of my low cell count. I thought I could not give myself a needle but I learned. My faith also gave me strength and courage. I prayed many times a day and repeated Psalm 118:17 “I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord”.

10. What message and resources would you like to provide women in the community?

You do not have to die from breast cancer. However, you must take charge of your health. Get your yearly mammograms, clinical exams and do your breast self-examines or be aware of your breast. During my treatment I heard the statistics for African American (AA) women – AA women have a lower 5 year survival rate, AA women have a 41% higher death rate, AA women have fewer mammograms and they have abnormal mammograms, the 5 year survival for AA women is 78% compared to 90% for Caucasian women.

I wanted to do something to lower the statistics and find out why AA women were dying. This is the reason Sisters Network of Central New Jersey was formed – we hold monthly support group meetings, provide free educational programs, bring awareness to the community with our yearly 5K Breast cancer walk, and provide financial services to women that qualify. We are saving lives but AA women and low income women still have the highest death rate.

Visit our website – for additional information.

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1 Day Until the 2015 Annual AUSA Meeting & Exposition #AUSA2015

Countdown Day1

Only 1 day until the 2015 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Exposition. The event takes place from October 12-14, 2015 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington D.C.

Be sure to visit our Booth #2261 to see our Scorpion Energy Hunter™ and our Expeditionary Vehicle Wash System on display. 

To learn more visit our website: Click Here

To learn more about the AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition: Visit Here

Whether you are attending the AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition or would like to join the conversation be sure to use the hashtag #AUSA2015 or #AreYouReady.

Follow Us on Twitter: @MILSPRAY

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2 Days Until the 2015 Annual AUSA Meeting & Exposition #AUSA2015

Day 2 Burden Countdown graphic

Only 2 days until the 2015 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Exposition. The event takes place from October 12-14, 2015 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington D.C.

Be sure to visit our Booth #2261 to see our Scorpion Energy Hunter™ and our Expeditionary Vehicle Wash System on display. 

To learn more visit our website: Click Here

To learn more about the AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition: Visit Here

Whether you are attending the AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition or would like to join the conversation be sure to use the hashtag #AUSA2015 or #AreYouReady.

Follow Us on Twitter: @MILSPRAY