Directions to WID National Office (NDIA Headquarters)
Women In Defense (WID), A National Security Organization cultivates and supports the advancement and recognition of women in all aspects of national security. WID was established to provide women a formal environment for professional growth through networking, education, and career development.
Women In Defense is an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), which represents all facets of the defense and technology industrial base and serves all military services. This affiliation gives WID members a source for defense industry information, increased networking opportunities and professional contacts, and an expanded scope of informative programs.
Women In Defense is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership. Appointed committees carry out the association’s mission. WID has chapters throughout the United States, and each of those has a board of directors.
2011-2013 National Board of Directors
President: Tricia Ward, Booz Allen Hamilton
Vice President: Karen Conti, Raytheon
Treasurer: Rebecca Patton, Texas A & M University
Secretary: Treva Langston, Northrop Grumman
HORIZONS Scholarship Director: Brenda McKinney, Kelly Government Solutions
Immediate Past President: Margaret DiVirgilio, Concurrent Technologies Corporation
(Pictured below with Staff Director Jane Casey)
Board of Directors Listing
Bylaws of Women In Defense, A National Security Organization
Revised May 2009
Women In Defense, A National Security Organization
2111 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 400
Arlington, Virginia 22201-3061
Telephone: (703) 522-1820 | Fax: (703) 522-1885
Affiliation with NDIA
WID is an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association, which is similar to being a wholly-owned subsidiary. By having its own board, bylaws, dues structure, and culture, WID is able to serve its members while having administrative support and the reputation of NDIA behind it. WID membership includes NDIA membership. (However, NDIA membership does not include WID membership.) WID is one of four NDIA affiliates.
Service to the Flag Award
|| In March 2013, WID National launched its inaugural Women's History Month Celebration. As part of its efforts to honor women in defense, WID reintroduced its Service to the Flag Award. Learn more about the award by clicking here. The 2013 recipient was Hon. Carolyn H. Becraft.|
A Historical Perspective
An idea begins.
Women In Defense began in the Fall of 1979 as the brainchild of seven dynamic women who met for dinner at the conclusion of a major trade association conference. At that time, they discussed the idea of starting an informal network to assist participants—especially women and thus the organizational name—in expanding their knowledge of national security issues and of the national defense community in which they participated.
Download/Print/View the founders and past presidents of WID.
No definitive action was taken as a result of that first meeting, nor were there any follow-on meetings for about a year. In the Fall of 1980, however, the group sponsored a get-acquainted dinner that approximately a dozen women attended. From then until February 1981, there was not much activity in the way of formal programs, but behind the scenes there was a great deal of action. During that time, the enlarged group devised an approach for organizing Women In Defense.
During those formative months, the early leaders gave a great deal of consideration to the purpose and mission of the organization. They agreed that the Women In Defense mission would have two parts:
- To provide professional development opportunities
- To provide a forum for the exchange of information and the expansion of contacts, thereby developing a network for the edification, support and sharing of common experiences.
Overall, the mission identified by the founders has held fast and remains in full force today.
At its inception, Women In Defense leaders set up the organization to operate loosely. They reasoned that this approach would significantly reduce the chances of Women In Defense becoming a political organization or a lobbying arm used for the purposes of a few, to the detriment of the majority interests. As a result, it was organized to depend on the volunteer efforts of its members to provide direction, to initiate and conduct activities, and to set the tone for the frequency and nature of programs.
In April 1981, the organization sponsored its first luncheon, featuring Mae Walterhouse of the Environmental Protection Agency. Ms. Walterhouse, quite fittingly, addressed the subject of networking and its importance to upwardly mobile women and men. This event generated enthusiasm for the organization.
The first membership list, boasting 47 names, was published in June 1981. A letter of introduction detailing Women In Defense to prospective new members was developed and planning of activities began in earnest. Events were typically business luncheons and breakfasts featuring senior level personnel from the administrative and legislative branches of government and industry.
Formal structure developed to foster growth
Growth, however, compelled the leadership to consider incorporation. It seemed necessary to take this step since minimal dues were being collected to offset mailing expenses, and there were concerns about legal ramifications. A charter committee worked toward incorporation as a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization. Their mission was accomplished when the association was incorporated December 19, 1985, in the District of Columbia. The first annual meeting was held in January 1986, and the first slate of officers nominated and elected in accordance with the charter.
WID established the HORIZONS Foundation as a separate, tax-exempt non-profit organization in 1987, and its articles of organization were signed June 1988. This Foundation was designed to award scholarships to those pursuing higher education that would lead to a career in national defense and national security. Funding came from corporate and individual contributions and from fundraising activities.
With the downturn of the defense industry in the 1990s, Women In Defense re-examined its mission and charter and decided to expand its focus to include all aspects of national security, which would open membership to non-defense organizations. This expanded focus caused the organization to add to its name the phrase “A National Security Organization,” thus creating the current name.
During 1994, the organization's leaders studied the benefits of becoming an affiliate of what was then called the American Defense Preparedness Association (ADPA) and undertook a restructuring of the organization's infrastructure. In February 1995, the organization voted to affiliate with ADPA. WID remained a separate organization, retaining its charter, tax-exempt status, and board. As part of the restructuring efforts, a committee recommended that the geographic chapters and their separate boards that had been established be eliminated and replaced by a Regional Director.
In March 1997 ADPA merged with the National Security Industrial Association (NSIA) to form the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA). All administrative functions for WID were sponsored by NDIA staff and the Women In Defense Board of Directors.
Boundaries stretched with a new century
By early 1999, WID had about 300 members. A new century saw WID leaders looking beyond its traditional Washington, DC area roots. A farsighted NDIA chapter leader in the Midwest spearheaded creation of a WID chapter centered around Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. After the Iowa-Illinois Chapter was established in 2001, other areas saw the value of a WID chapter in their communities.
By March 2003, WID leaders realized that growth was the norm and that a stronger alliance with NDIA would benefit WID and its members. Women In Defense was merged into NDIA June 1, 2004, retaining its board and bylaws, and it gained a seat on the NDIA board of directors. In 2003, the WID national organization hosted events that took the association in a new direction. On April 10, 2003, WID held its first Leaders Conference to bring together national and chapter officers to discuss organizational priorities and assure communication. WID held the first national conference of its type April 11, 2003. Both events were held in McLean, Virginia.
In 2005, the WID national president was invited to Ottawa, Canada, where a group of women from defense industry, the military and government sought to emulate WID. Thus, the new Women in Defence & Security Canada formed a relationship with WID.
In October 2005, the conferences came to be known as the National Fall Conference, thus opening the way for WID to widen its educational and professional development opportunities. Also in the middle of the decade, WID National started a breakfast series to introduce members to decision makers in national security and national defense.
Members and special guests celebrated the 20th anniversary in 2005. About 900 members belonged at that time. The development of chapters since 2001 fueled tremendous growth. Adding the annual Leaders Conference brought together national and chapter leaders to review priorities. By the end of 2007 membership had reached 1,500.
In August 2009, WID awarded its 101st HORIZONS scholarship. The caliber of applicants increased yearly since its inception, especially following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 when many students were inspired to pursue careers in national security. WID's efforts to reward and acknowledge such students were a component of NDIA's program to stimulate interest in STEM—science, technology, engineering and match—studies.
Celebrations for the association's 25th anniversary included production of a video, a reception to mark the day the organization was incorporated, and festivities at the October 2010 annual dinner. In July 2012, WID welcomed its 4,000th member.
In March 2013, WID National launched its inaugural Women's History Month Celebration. As part of its efforts to honor women in defense, WID reintroduced its Service to the Flag Award, presenting it at the celbration to Hon. Carolyn H. Becraft.
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