The holiday season is a time of togetherness, and we at the Global SOF Foundation made that happen to a festive degree this week!

Read on to catch up on our annual holiday party, see how we we bid a fond farewell to two GSF “OGs,” and the impending launch of the GSF podcast!

The 2018 Joint Holiday Social

Each year, the GSF teams up with other local defense organizations to put on a holiday social. Many of our member bases overlap–and if they don’t already, they do after the social! We co-host this event with four other stellar organizations:

  • AFCEA Tampa – St. Pete Pelican Chapter: Promotes industry-government cooperation in developing effective C4I and information capabilities
  • Florida Defense Contractors Association: A statewide, state-focused business development and education group for Florida defense businesses of all sizes
  • Greater Tampa Bay NDIA: Promotes a responsive government and industry national security team through productive interactions with MacDill Air Force Base, US Central Command, US Special Operations Command and other Defense activities in the Tampa Bay region
  • Greater Tampa Bay Chapter of Women in Defense: Cultivates and supports the advancement and recognition of women in all aspects of national security and provides women with a formal environment for professional growth through networking, education, and career development

As you can see, we fit together and complement one another well, as do the members of our shared community.

The Joint Holiday Social is held at the Centre Club, a cool venue off of Westshore that offers far-reaching views of the Tampa peninsula. The Social brought in around 200 members of the community for some food, a variety of beverages, and plenty of networking.

As is the standard–most attendees saw someone they hadn’t seen in years, someone they used to work for, someone who they used to babysit for… the list goes on!

Wrapping Up 2018
The attending eventPower and Global SOF Foundation staff members, from left to right: Ranae Grehl and Megan Carroll (eP), Catlyn Smith, Stephen Jones, Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew, and Chelsea Hamashin (GSF).

It was a fun evening–you can tell because the GSF Director of Partner Relations Stephen Jones wore a cat sweater!  /ᐠ。ꞈ。ᐟ\

Thank you again to all who attended, and be sure to check out the photos on our Facebook page.

SOFspot: It’s Nearly Ready to Launch

We’ve teased this a few times, so you might already know–but the GSF is launching a podcast in 2019! We’ve named it SOFspot, since it will be a great spot to learn about things going on in the global special operations world and because it will give you a “softspot” for our team. Obviously!

We were up to two episodes before this week–with one focused on the founding of the GSF and another on SOF for Life and the results of the SOF for Life survey. Neither is published yet, but they will be very soon, and available wherever you listen to your podcasts.

This week we doubled the size of our podcast arsenal–with TWO new recording sessions. That’s right, we’re up to 4 episodes of SOFspot.

Wrapping Up 2018
Chuck Neu (left) and Stephen Jones (right) discuss Skillbridge.

The first was a very casual recording full of valuable information about a DOD program called Skillbridge, which all active duty SOF and SOF support who are nearing their transition should listen to! It featured Steve Jones, the GSF’s first Skillbridge fellow, and freshly retired Commander Chuck Neu, the GSF’s second Skillbridge fellow. The two spoke about their experiences with the program and how it helped them professionally, emotionally, and financially prepare for life after military.

Wrapping Up 2018
Top: Stu and Tony Quartararo (Spatial Networks)
Bottom: Stan Highsmith (Fulcrum) and Chelsea

The second might appeal to a different segment of our GSF population– we recorded an episode on “International Business Development.” This was fun because we brought in Corporate Partner reps for the first time– Tony Quartararo from Spatial Networks and Stan Highsmith from Fulcrum joined us to share their expertise.

Tony and Stan were excellent guests–both eager to share their successes and lessons-learned as they have expanded their businesses into international markets. The importance of relationship building, leveraging local expertise, and of course, attending GSF events were all key parts of the discussion. If you’re interested in expanding overseas, especially if you’re a small business, we strongly recommend you give it a listen when SOFspot launches!

Thank you again to all of our podcast guests this week! You were informative music to our ears. 🙂

Bittersweet Goodbyes

The GSF has made some personnel changes over the past month, all of which are truly bittersweet. As the Foundation has grown and changed, so have our staff requirements.

The whole Global SOF team met for lunch this week, from the newest hire to the originals. We met up at the Tampa Club–another venue with fabulous views (see below), to reminisce, talk about the future, and recognize the huge contributions of our two outgoing employees.

Wrapping Up 2018
Cool views of Tampa (and the circling birds) from The Tampa Club.

Maureen Domenech joined the GSF in 2014 working part-time as the Operations Manager. She has been such a crucial asset to the team–reliable and steadfast–supporting us with her government experience, organization, and Spanish language skills. She was kind enough to write a blog about her experience with and the evolution of the GSF, which you can read here.

Maureen is moving on to the world of retirement, but she won’t just be relaxing. We were all moved and excited to hear that she now plans to take on being a Foster Parent. Go, Maureen, and thank you again for everything!

Shannon Coker has been another valuable member of the GSF team since 2015, when she joined us part-time as the Operations Coordinator. As GSF President Stu Bradin said during lunch, the GSF wouldn’t have survived without the hard work of Shannon and Maureen. Shannon’s exuberance, positivity, and background as a military spouse made her a great support team for GSF members and corporate partners.

The GSF has grown so much in it’s not-quite-five-years that this role needed to become full-time–which is why Catlyn Smith has joined the team to take on that position as the Membership Services Manager. You can read her bio (and the rest of the team’s) on our website.

Wrapping Up 2018
Current and former members of the GSF team, from left to right: Stu Bradin, Meaghan Keeler-Pettigrew, Shannon Coker, Rick Lamb, Chelsea Hamashin, Maureen Domenech, Stephen Jones, and Catlyn Smith.

We took our big group photo on the steps of the Tampa Club, opened presents that may or may not have included Army Men in Yoga poses, and then wrapped up the afternoon with a multi-hour GSF strategy meeting. It was a good discussion and something that we plan to do more often as a team!

Take a Break!

The GSF is closed for the Christmas and New Year holidays, but we are certainly using that time to plan our next major event: The 2019 Global SOF Symposium – US, which if you haven’t heard yet will be in a NEW venue this year.

Check it out here, and we’ll see you in 2019!

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