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About WID 

 About Women In Defense 

Directions to WID National Office (NDIA Headquarters)

WID Mission
To cultivate and support the advancement and recognition of women in all aspects of national security.

WID Vision
Women In Defense provides women a formal environment for professional growth through
networking, education, and career development

WID Value Proposition
A diverse national security workforce of people who have more knowledge,
leadership skills, and connections and are better equipped to serve the nation.

Cultivating and supporting the advancement and recognition of women in national security is the mission of Women In Defense, A National Security Organization. WID was established to provide women a formal environment for professional growth through networking, education and career development. Membership is open to professional women and men whose professional activities relate to national security. As of Fall, 2015. WID has 20 chapters throughout the nation. Through its HORIZONS Scholarship Program, WID encourages the pursuit of careers in support of national defense and national security. Women In Defense is an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association, a non-profit educational association representing all facets of the defense and technology industrial base and serving all military services.


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.

2016-2017 National Board of Directors (Effective Oct. 1, 2016)

President: Maj Gen Amy S. Courter, CAP/USAFX, COO, inerTRAIN

Vice President: Lori A. Lindholm, USNR (ret) O-6, helicopter pilot, Bus Develop Principal, Lockheed Martin, Rotary and Mission Systems
Secretary: Melissa Smith, Lead Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.

Board members:
HORIZONS Scholarship Director: Lisa Rosenthal, CEO, The Mayvin Consulting Group, Inc.
Marketing and Public Affairs Chair: Nicci Williams, Sr. Business Development Mgr, GovCloud, Amazon Web Services
Membership Director: Jen Chaquette, Senior Analyst, Renaissance Strategic Advisors

Sponsorship and Events Director: Dina Flynn, CEO, 10Fold.Solutions DC

Bylaws of Women In Defense, A National Security Organization

Revised July 2016

Contact Us

Women In Defense
2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 700
Arlington, Virginia 22201-3061
Telephone: (703) 522-1820 | Fax: (703) 522-1885

Ashley Bunce
Executive Director
(703) 247-2551

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

 WID Service Flag - February 2013 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 this prestigious award by clicking here.

The 2014 recipient is Brig Gen Wilma L. Vaught, USAF (Ret), President of the Board of Directors of the Women In Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Inc.
2015 recipients were MG Paulette M. Risher, USA (Ret) is Program Director for Veteran Employment Services with Still Serving Veterans, an Alabama based 501(c)3; and
Ms. Janice C. Haith, SES. Ms Haith became Director, DDCIO (Navy) April 2010, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance.  She is responsible for all CIO matters related to the US Navy. 

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:

  1. To provide professional development opportunities
  2. 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 celebration to Hon. Carolyn H. Becraft. Leaders marked the 25th anniversary of the HORIZONS Scholarship program throughout 2013. 
2015 recipients were MG Paulette M. Risher, USA (Ret) is Program Director for Veteran Employment Services with Still Serving Veterans, an Alabama based 501(c)3; and
Ms. Janice C. Haith, SES. Ms Haith became Director, DDCIO (Navy) April 2010, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance.  She is responsible for all CIO matters related to the US Navy.

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2101 Wilson Boulevard / Suite 700 / Arlington, Virginia 22201
Telephone: (703) 522-1820 / Fax: (703) 522-1885