An Unforgettable 7th Celebrate You Unconference

September 22, 2023


This was an unforgettable 7th Celebrate You Unconference. The memories from this remarkable weekend are still vivid, and we’re basking in the afterglow of all the incredible moments and connections we shared.

At the heart of it all, we witnessed the incredible power of women supporting women, consciously creating spaces where we uplift and empower each other. When we stand together and set up situations that foster support, remarkable things become possible.

Here’s a recap of the weekend’s highlights:

Friday, September 8th

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Deloitte delivered their Core Leadership Program, and Off Base Transition Training (OBTT) offered enlightening workshops during our Pre-Unconference activities.

The Opening Session was a moving start to our event. It featured a parade of military branch flags by, Sgt. Dixie- Army, Kimberly Henry & Daisy- Navy, Cathleen Gruetzner-Marine Corps, Virginia Wimmer- Air Force, Kathy Takayama- Coast Guard, and  Space Force – Adriana Griffin, followed by Lakota Women Warriors presentation of colors.  Inspiring National Anthem by Nikkea Devida and the presentation of Women Veterans Alliance Patriotic Supporter Award to William Franco. Nikkea Devida and April Cofield were presented with “Uncon Enthusiast” petals for attending all seven Unconferences. Kella With Horn, Founder of the Lakota Women Warriors closed out the opening session. Attendees received a  Thrive Causemetics bag full of goodies.

We were thrilled to welcome twelve new Lifetime members who joined during the event, thanks to the generosity of fellow attendees. Our Lifetime Members enjoyed an exclusive evening sponsored by Tropicana Resort, complete with a perfume bar experience.

Saturday, September 9th

The day began with Phylis Wilson from Military Women’s Memorial sharing insights and reminding us of the importance of registration.  Oh, and also to update their profiles. A gentle nudge from her to me, to update mine.

We continued the tradition of our cake-cutting ceremony, celebrating Patricia Jackson Kelly (80 years young and Brianna Saravia (28, active duty).  Morning session attendees received bags from Military OneSource.

The exhibitor marketplace featured over 30 companies offering valuable resources to our attendees.

All-day services included a Clothing Boutique with generous donations from 15 Cabi Stylists and Lila Asnani, owner of Styling Insider provided styling tips in the boutique and during her afternoon session.  Attendees were able to take home several outfits including jewelry.

Hair and Makeup was provided by 18 students from Paul Mitchell and Euphoria Institute of Beauty Arts and Sciences in Las Vegas.  LV VHA was on hand to administer flu shots.

New This Year! Dripbar Las Vegas owner Nathan Adkins, Army Veteran brought the IV therapy to us.  Eric Stegall with Portraits for Patriots captured headshots.

Engaging breakout sessions:

  • Financial Literacy- Sam Shuman
  • Increasing Neuroplasticity- Barbara Ortiz & TJ McGrath
  • Learn poker and Blackjack- Tropicana
  • Painting- Peggy Turner
  • Self Defense- Lester Lumbad
  • Sons, Squirrels, and Scent of Trauma- Erin Dunn
  • Trauma Recovery: The Road to Transition & Resilience- Rocky Auletto & Shannon Hough
  • Women in Business Panel- Kathy Takayama, Laurie Sayles, Monica Fullerton, Laura Renner

Lunch brought all of the attendees and exhibitors to celebrate the three Women Veterans Giving MWSBA finalists.  Ashley Gorbulja- GuideOn Education Consulting LLC, Tanisha Medina- SpeakLifeHealUp Counseling and Kimberly Henry- The Gold Beacon LLC. Congrats to Ashley! Gorbulja!.  Everyone was treated to the “Melissa” Lip Tint from Thrive Causemetics.    Our afternoon presenter, Lauren Smith shared about Overcoming Imposter Syndrome.

Unc 2 cigar - An Unforgettable 7th Celebrate You UnconferenceA magical evening at our Night in Havana Mix & Mingle.  Cuban Food, Mojitos, music by Matt Baldoni, cigar roller from The Spirit of Cuba, Wall of Winning, and Lady Luck where a lucky someone took home $300.  Women from the Mission Continues Women Veteran Leadership Program joined us along with Veterans Social Club. Thank you to Veterans Social Club for providing door prizes, cigars, and dominoes.

The best part of the night was meeting and hearing from the incredible 96 years young Dr. Doris “Lucki” Allen who came in from California. Vietnam Veteran who was in the Army from 1950-1980. Dr Allen is a graduate of Tuskegee University in Alabama, Ball State University in Muncie Indiana and the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California where she obtained her doctorate in psychology.

Unc 3 doris - An Unforgettable 7th Celebrate You UnconferenceHer medals and decorations include:

  • Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters (3rd award)
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Army Commendation Medal Good Conduct Medal with Silver Loop (6th award)
  • Army of Occupation Medal (Japan)
  • National Defense Service Medal with bronze star (2nd award)
  • Vietnam Service Medal with two Silver Stars
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • United Nations Service Medal
  • Korea Presidential Unit Citation Meritorious Unit Citation
  • Korean Service Medal
  • Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry

Read more about Dr. Lucki here

Sunday, September 10th

Tamia Dow closed the Unconference with her inspiring talk, “Life Under Construction.”

Lisa Kalkes from Veterans Benefits Guide and her daughter, Quinn, led us in a heartwarming community giveback event, creating cards for Ronald McDonald House. Quinn had a mic drop moment!

We extend our heartfelt thanks to our sponsors, USC Marshall and Veterans Benefits Guide, as well as everyone who contributed to making this Unconference a memorable experience.

A special shoutout to the incredible individuals and teams who helped to make this event possible: Lisa Montes, Terri Randall, Bobi Oates, Nikkea Devida, Bev Sabedra, Sgt. Dixie, Martha McPhee, TJ, Marlene Merck, who brought a trailer full of clothing, shoes, and products and Cathleen for driving bottles of wine from Texas Hill Country

Stay tuned for more inspiring moments and future events from Women Veterans Alliance. Together, we continue to empower and uplift our community.

Click here for more Unconference photos!

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