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Duke Women in National Security Panel | February 15, 2021

Duke Women in National Security Panel | February 15, 2021

Kim Kotlar joined five female career national security experts for a discussion on their experiences in the Department of Defense, State Department, and the Intelligence Community. Four on the panel, Jenny Arnold, Randee Farrell, Tina Hayes and Margalit Murray, are 2020-2021 Fellows in the Duke Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellowship Program. Gia DeHart is currently a 2021 Carlucci Fellow in the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Event summary follows the photos.

Watch the event here.


Event summary by Anna Klingensmith:

On Monday, February 15th, the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy welcomed five distinguished women in national security careers to discuss their experiences working at the Department of Defense (DoD), the State Department, and in the Intelligence Community. The panel was moderated by Kim Koltar, the Duke Cyber mentor and coach, and a retired naval officer, Congressional staffer, and NSA executive herself. The five panelists included Jenny Arnold, a civil servant in the DoD, LTC Randee Farrell, a US Army Public Affairs Officer, LT Gia DeHart, a Human Resources Officer in the Navy Reserves, LTC Tina Hayes, a Nuclear Counterproliferation and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Specialist, and lastly, Margalit Murray, a Supervisory Special Agent at the State Department.

Ms. Kotlar began the event by asking the panelists why they decided to pursue a career in national security and what motivates them to continue doing the work that they do. The general consensus amongst the panelists was they were all curious and inquisitive children who wanted to dedicate their lives to making a difference and being a part of something bigger than themselves. These themes were also apparent in the panelists’ discussion about why they chose military service. The panelists agreed that military service provides a myriad of opportunities to see the world and contribute to a greater cause that aren’t always presented in non-military careers. Ms. Kotlar then asked each of the women to elaborate more on their careers, including asking them about their most exciting jobs, biggest achievements, and how their specific jobs fit into the greater goals of the organization they work for.

The final moderated question surrounded the issue of gender and mentorship. She asked the panelists what qualities are important in a good mentor, and if gender matters. The panelists agreed the most important qualities in a mentor include someone who has a similar career path and career ambitions as you do, someone who wants to mentor you because they care about you and not because they are self-serving, and someone who will give you the confidence to achieve your goals, but also provide constructive criticism when it’s needed. The women also came to a consensus that gender doesn’t matter in a mentor, as long as they have the aforementioned qualities. Most of the panelists had primarily male mentors and found them to be were excellent mentors. The panelists also emphasized the importance of peer mentors

The panel concluded with questions from the audience. Central themes that arose when answering audience questions included the difficulty of balancing a career and raising a family, taking advantage of all the opportunities presented and not limiting yourself at an early age, and being true to yourself and your passions when considering a career. The women also advised that in the national security field it is helpful to lean into the fact that you’re a woman, asserting that confidently being a woman often surrounded by only men can be a strength.