Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans – one of the most decorated female veterans in U.S. history

Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans – one of the most decorated female veterans in U.S. history
Bronze Star recipient for valor and heroism in combat in Afghanistan

Texas native Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans is one of the most decorated female veterans in U.S. history. Throughout her 27 years in the service, CSM Evans worked her way up to Command Sergeant Major – the highest rank an enlisted soldier can achieve. In this role, she was responsible for the security and personnel on all bases and forwarding operation bases in Afghanistan, and oversaw more than 30,000 ground troops. She earned numerous medals and awards, including the Bronze Star, the Presidential Unit Citation Medal, and Global War on Terrorism ribbons, six Meritorious Service Medals and numerous other awards.

In 2006, Command Sergeant Major Evans’ world changed in a millisecond when she was severely wounded by incoming fire while serving in Afghanistan. The rocket blast caused her debilitating injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, internal injuries and the loss of all hearing.

After her combat injury, recent PTSD diagnosis and subsequent retirement from service, her transition from military life to civilian life was difficult. Her heart was broken and she felt hopeless, not only due to the injuries she sustained but also due to the sudden loss — of family, a team, the fellowship and the mission she had found and loved, the military experience. She found her way into No Barriers Warriors, a life-changing organization that serves veterans with disabilities from all branches of the military and all eras of service. The healing environment restored her confidence, gave her hope and a renewed passion for living life to the fullest.

Today, Gretchen Evans is determined to pay it forward by focusing her efforts on improving the lives of her fellow veterans by actively serving as a mentor, coach, and community activist. Gretchen is an ambassador for nonprofit No Barriers USA. She continues to serve as a board member of several veteran-focused organizations and is a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. In 2017, she published her first book, Leading from the Front, Lessons by a Command Sergeant Major, and in 2018, she co-led a group of youth with mixed abilities on an expedition to Nepal.

Gretchen currently resides in Brunswick, Maine, with her husband Robert, a Navy veteran and their two service dogs Aura and Rusty. She is an avid hiker, runner, cyclist, and reader. Gretchen will be inducted into the U.S. Veterans Hall of Fame in 2021 for her outstanding and meritorious service within the United States Army and her community.

Starting in August 2020, Gretchen and her adventure racing team, Team UNBROKEN, will be featured in the “World’s Toughest Race” on Amazon Prime, hosted by Bear Grylls and produced by Mark Burnett. Team UNBROKEN is the first totally disabled team to ever compete in this arduous adventure race. Their desire is to bring awareness that disabilities do not define or limit what is possible with hard work, grit, gumption, and a rope team.

Gretchen is a sought after inspirational speaker and shares compelling and riveting stories and experiences, going from being the highest enlisted rank in the Army to traversing through life after a serious combat injury. Her insightful and poignant perspective offers a view into a window of today’s warriors, and offers nuggets of wisdom and impactful takeaways. She shares her story with a unique style of encouragement, hope and humor.



Amy Castro – Speaker Business Coach

  • Definitely use an external web cam, not the one in your laptop. 
  • Don’t use anything Bluetooth or wireless  – hardwired is best. 
  • Recommend Logitech Brio for external web cam or a Logitech 730C or 720.
    • If you can’t get a webcam, there are free apps you can use to turn your phone into a great webcam- just need a tripod for it. Most cameras on new phones are 4g and great quality.
  • Microphone – use a lav mic instead of a headset, and an earpiece if you need to hear participants. Lav I use is Rode SmartLav+
  • For studio recording for taped event – Blue Yeti microphone all the way.
  • Definitely BEST need 3 sets of lights (Key light, fill light, back light)- two front, one to light your backdrop to give you dimension. If only have 2, minimal would be key lighting and fill lighting. Here’s a great video with quick/easy advice on lighting and something someone can do without a lot of  special equipment. However, this advice is just for webinars, not keynote- that’s a whole other ballgame when you’re standing and moving.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hfqJ7eWj0A However, for keynotes, you’ll still have the same concept of at minimum the three types of lighting.
  • Use a real backdrop rather than a green screen, unless you’ve really found a greenscreen background that avoids all the weird “haloing” of your hair and hands. Make the backdrop realistic!
    • Don’t use those “zoom virtual backgrounds” for actual programs. They’re ok for casual meetings if you pick the right one and are careful how you move, but when you make a bad choice. They give you the same problems as bad green screen. 
Contact Amy Castro for a Speaker Business Coaching amy_castro@ictstexas.com / www.amycastro.com 



Women Veteran Speaker – Tammie Jo Shults

member Tammie Shults is the widely acclaimed pilot who brought Southwest Flight 1380 in for a successful, heroic emergency landing in Philadelphia in 2018. Captain Shults shares how her entire life of preparation, steady leadership, and faith led her to that crucial moment in the cockpit. Through her insight, Captain Shults has motivated thousands of individuals to transform adversity into strength, and strength into the courage to take action. Booking information: info@womenveteranspeakers.com




Lead & Inspire Your Team with Diane Boettcher

member Diane Boettcher will inspire your team to be ​more authentic, more engaged, more resilient.  An expert in military operations, IT, change management and leadership, Diane is known for constantly raising the bar of performance and consistently adapting to meet current and future needs. From leading on the front lines to corporate leadership at Microsoft, Diane brings a breadth of knowledge and dynamic experiences to presentations and coaching programs Diane’s Website


Dr. Karen Jacobson

Dr Karen offers virtual keynotes and workshops focusing on high performing teams in a remote environment.

Book Karen: https://drkarenjacobson.com / drj@drkarenjacobson.com



WomenVetsSpeak – Tracy Crow

Mississippi University for Women Event

Tracy Crow, member of Women Veteran Speakers Bureau, was the keynote speaker for a women’s event at Mississippi University for Women this past spring at the Nissan Auditorium in Columbus, Mississippi. Tracy participated in a reception, keynote and book signing as part of the university’s Forum Series hosted by the Honors College. She presented the keynote “It’s My Country, Too” in addition to speaking about her own military experiences along with a Q&A period. Tracy also did a workshop with the students.

Here’s what the client had to say about Tracy:

“Tracy’s lecture on American women’s military stories, including her own, was deeply informed by her research but also delivered with flair and warm humor! She captivated and inspired our audience of students, faculty, alums, and community members and also responded very generously to audience questions and in one-on-one conversations. Her presentation definitely goes into the annals of our lecture series as one of the most popular. In a separate workshop with students, she engaged them in thinking deeply about their experience and storytelling process and was movingly honest about her own. In all ways, she offered more than we even asked for and I highly recommend her for college visits. “

–Kim Whitehead, Mississippi University for Women

Contact Women Veteran Speakers

To book any of our amazing speakers, please email us at info@womenveteranspeakers.com. We look forward to making your next event memorable!



PowerHouse Speaker Series

PowerHouse Series

All of our speakers, coaches, trainers and facilitators at Women Veterans Speakers bring a potent set of skills developed from their unique experience having served and led in the United States military. Each and every one tells a powerful story and leads authentically from a place of strength and purpose. Today we would like to introduce you to one of our POWERHOUSE  and most requested speakers.

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez

Eldonna is a retired Air Force veteran with 23 years of honorable military service.  She is a negotiation and contracts expert with over 30 years of leadership, contracts management and negotiation experience.  She has negotiated contracts from $1 to over $100 million both stateside and internationally.  She was deployed to the Middle East after 911 and has years of experience in foreign acquisition.

When we asked Eldonna what leadership lessons from her years of military service she applies to everyday life, she provided a few of her favorite life & leadership nuggets:

“Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in ALL I do” (Air Force Core Values)

“Done Right, First Time, On Time – strive for that and course correct along the way”

“Lead Yourself First”

Eldonna is the CEO of Dynamic Vision International Inc. a training and consulting firm. She specializes in training people how to think like a negotiator by creating win-win results and understanding the pitfalls to avoid.  She is an international award winning speaker and an award-winning author.

Eldonna says, “Good leaders whether male or female take all their experience and work to make their corner of the military a better place by leading by example.”

Eldonna specializes in the following keynotes and coaching topics: Author, Business Development, Growth, Productivity, Coaching & Mentoring, Contracting, Corporate Trainer, Empowerment, Entrepreneur, Facilitator, Faith, Inspirational, Leadership, Negotiation, Parenting, Patriotic, Personal Development, Presentation Skills, Team Building, Women in Business / Women Leaders, Women in Military / Veterans

Make your corner of the world better today by booking Eldonna for your next event! Find out more about Eldonna.


Dialog of Divas: Two Women Veterans Rap about Mentoring

Linda Maloney, Founder/Owner of Women Veteran Speakers (WOMEN VETERAN SPEAKERS), and Dr. Mary Kelly, internationally renowned author and keynote speaker, take time from their busy schedules for a wide-ranging dialog about professional growth, the trust factor, and their mentoring relationship.

Let’s start at the beginning… How did you two meet?

LINDA MALONEY: Mary and I met through our professional military and social media connections. I was super impressed with Mary’s success after she left the military.  It was obvious from her speaking business and several award-winning books, that she was someone who I could learn a lot from.  We met in person a few years ago at a Women Veteran Entrepreneurship conference where Mary was speaking. I knew Mary would be at the conference and I made a point of connecting with her before the conference and let her know I would love to chat, specifically about a Women Veteran Speakers business that I was interested in starting. I loved her vibrant and personable style and appreciated that she took time out of her busy schedule at the conference to offer me her insights, expertise and encouragement about starting Women Veteran Speakers.   Two years later, Women Veteran Speakers is a growing business and Mary is one of our members.

Linda Maloney & Mary Kelly

What is your definition of a mentor?

LINDA MALONEY: President George W. Bush once said, “Older Americans help others to understand the past, and they teach timeless lessons of courage, endurance, and love. Through their legacy of patriotism, service, and responsibility,” our older generation serves as role models for our younger generations.  This statement is the foundation of mentorship. While not all mentors are older than their mentees, mentors have invaluable and timeless life and career lessons and experience to help others explore and grow their careers.

A mentor is a role model and someone who helps guide you along your path…coming alongside, speaking into your life, offering their perspective and counsel. I was on a social media site last year and there was a video from one of the Entertainment Industry Award Shows. It was 1997 and Mr. Rogers (Fred Rogers from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) was receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award. He said this in his acceptance speech “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being”…and he continued with, “think of those who have helped you become who you are…those who have cared about you and wanted the best for you in life.”  And then he asked everyone to take 10 seconds to think about the people in their life who loved them into being the people they are and will become.

That really captures the essence of mentorship…walking along side people, lifting them up, encouraging and loving them into being the best they can be. Since leaving the military I have focused on doing the same for other young men and women.  I am blessed to have been mentored along my path and I try to look for the opportunities where I can use my own journey, my own experiences with the positives, the challenges, the successes and failures to mentor, come alongside, speak words of encouragement and hope, to dream big dreams (no matter what a person’s situation is or where they come from). I encourage younger professionals to look for mentors along the way, people who will care about them and encourage them to become as Fred Rogers says, the best they can be.

MARY KELLY: My idea of a mentor is someone who can help you along on your journey.  I think in years past we used to view mentors as senior executives who were more senior to us or in a position that we wanted to move into, and we hoped they would give us a few hours of their time. That is certainly still viable.  But I think mentorship can happen at all kinds of levels – age and position are no longer the prerequisite for being a mentor.  A mentor is knowledgeable and willing to share that knowledge.  I love that in my mastermind [group] I have people both older and younger than I am.

Why is it so important for professionals today to have mentors?

LINDA MALONEY: I believe mentorship is a pillar of one’s personal and professional success and is key to professional growth. Mentorship is the opportunity to receive nuggets of wisdom from those who may have walked a similar path and who can offer insights and offer inputs that can help with making smart choices and informed decisions.  I also encourage younger professionals to not only get a mentor but to be a mentor … to take the experiences of their journey to give back and mentor others.

MARY KELLY: Because so many of us never had mentors, and that made it tougher to be successful.  A good mentorship program is a partnership – each side gives and each side gains, even if those gains are not the intent.

Are there any situations that don’t lend themselves to a mentoring situation, and if so, what ​ do you do?

MARY KELLY: That is where my mastermind comes in.  I have a team of five other people and we gather two or three times a year to be honest with the successes and failures of our businesses.  Each of them have a different perspective, and they always have great advice.  We all agree ahead of time how we want to spend the time.  Sometimes we discuss themes/challenges we are all dealing with.  Other sessions we each get ninety minutes and we describe what we are doing or our next big idea and request feedback.  Sometimes the feedback is “That is a seriously dumb idea” and sometimes it is “Wow, that is a great idea and here is how you can make it bigger and better.”  The point is to have a brain trust you can count on to help you, make you better, and improve your business.

The other thing is – and I make this point in one of my leadership programs – anyone who really wants to improve in sports has a coach.  Why should it be different in business?  So, if your business doesn’t lend itself to mentoring, sometimes a great business coach can help you take that next step forward.

LINDA MALONEY: My business, Women Veteran Speakers, lends itself well to mentorship but my issue is one of having the time to mentor multiple people since I am growing the business and my time is limited.  I started a coaching business that aligns itself well with Women Veteran Speakers and I coach women veterans who are emerging up-and-coming speakers. I help them with starting their business, developing their keynotes and figuring how who and where there target market is.  It is very satisfying to help someone take their hopes and dreams and turn them into a business idea.

Why do so many successful people shy away from mentoring?

LINDA MALONEY: Mentoring involves trusting someone with your stuff! Even though the mentoring relationship may be professional, you most likely are sharing both personal and professional information about yourself…and that can be scary. Plus, mentorship takes time and that is one thing we all seem to have very little of these days. Building and developing a mentoring relationship takes time.

MARY KELLY: Because it means asking for help and advice.  That means being vulnerable, and many of us rose through the ranks successfully because we tried not to show weakness.

What do you value most from a mentoring relationship?

LINDA MALONEY: I am stealing this phrase that Mary recently coined…”Tribe of Trust” She is part of a group of mentors, people that I trust and rely on for professional and business advice. I love that I know if I have a question or I’m unsure about a certain business situation, I can call Mary up and she is ready with honest and trustworthy input…I trust her both from a business and character perspective.

MARY KELLY: The trust factor. It is wonderful to be able to share questions and issues with someone else who has a different perspective and know that there is total confidentiality and that you can trust someone else.


Since this interview, Linda and Mary have launched a new venture, the “Women Veteran Speaker Showcase.” From idea to execution, this new program is a great “in the moment” example of how the principles of trust, growth, and mentoring can lead to powerful results.

The Women Veteran Speaker Showcase idea started as a conversation between Linda and Mary because some of the Women Veteran Speakers don’t have good quality speaking videos and/or sizzle reels. Sometimes, it is because they are up-and-coming speakers and haven’t had an opportunity to get video footage from a speaking event or the video quality may be subpar. Sizzle reels (also commonly referred to as demo reels, promo videos, promotional videos, pitch reels) are 3-to-5 minute videos that combine a speaker’s video(s), audio, and messaging to create a stylized overview of them speaking.  It is a unique and artful way to highlight their brand and message.

From a Speakers Bureau perspective, speakers, coaches, trainers, and facilitators with professionally-produced sizzle reels are overwhelmingly booked at a higher rate for events.  Speaker one-sheets are great, but a Sizzle Reel is typically the deciding factor when a client is offered a selection of potential speakers, coaches, trainers, and facilitators. A poor-quality video is almost worse than no video at all.  Linda was chatting with Mary during one of their “mentoring” phone calls because Linda was trying to figure out how to get better quality videos for some of the Women Veteran Speaker members and a cost-effective approach for developing a sizzle reel for the bureau.  Good, quality Sizzle reels are typically very expensive.

Mary’s idea was to put together a “Speaker Showcase” for the bureau, which offers speakers the opportunity to get stage and interview video during a weekend event.  Mary and Linda teamed with Matt Bauer of Motivational Media to set up a Speaker Showcase. Matt has over 15 years of experience in digital multimedia production, motion graphics, voiceover work, graphic design, and audio production and he is a master at sizzle reel production.

Linda, Mary & Matt

There were 15 speakers from all over the country who met in Dallas the second weekend of August 2017 for the first Women Veteran Speaker hosted Speaker Showcase.

The entire weekend was conducted at a major Dallas hotel with a professional stage and hair and makeup artists onsite. The Speaker Showcase team coordinated an entire weekend focusing onvideotaping showcase attendees.

Saturday’s schedule included on-stage video-taping and headshots, and Sunday included interview style videotaping. It was an amazing success and Women Veteran Speakers hope to host another Speaker Showcase in 2018.

Below are just a handful of testimonials from the weekend attendees following the “Speaker Showcase” weekend:

  • This past weekend proved to be one of the most rewarding of all my adult years. It was an unbelievable and uplifting experience. I’m excited for future possibilities to reach & teach families like never before. Thank you to the Women’s Veteran Speaker Bureau (brainchild of one spectacular Linda Maloney, former Navy flight officer) for recognizing, hosting, and promoting and furthering us women vets. Many thanks to Dr. Mary Kelly (CEO Productive Leaders former navy commander) and to the planet’s best videographer/ musician Matt Bauer (Motivational Media).
  • WOW! What a busy but fruitful weekend. Traveled to Dallas, TX and met fellow Women Veterans Speakers Association members. Thank you Linda Maloney, Mary Kelly and Matt Bauer for coordinating an extraordinary event to help women succeed in the public speaking industry. The networking was priceless in itself.
  • What an enriching weekend. To think that I wasn’t going to come because I was “too busy”. Now I can’t wait for the next one!! I’m honored to have met all of you.
  • Linda – you are amazing for creating Women Veterans Speakers Bureau which showcase military women and our contributions to the past as service members and now to the future as speakers. You are so smart, kind and giving.  Thank you for continuing to be a servant leader and for allowing me to part of the tribe. This weekend gave me great hope.
  • Mary – You are a rock star coach!  Generous, fun, beautiful and uber talented. Thank you for helping make this weekend happen. I wish I could just hang around you and  take in all the energy, excitement and knowledge you so willing share. The red jacket is hanging in my closet and I will wear it with great confidence on my next speaking gig. Thank you so very much for everything.
  • Matt – You made one of the scariest, most nerve wrecking things ever into a  most enjoyable experience. Your playful yet professional  manner is an excellence combination to capture the best in us on still and video. Thank you.  I look forward to seeing what you have recorded this weekend and to working with you in the future. 



Mary Kelly: Mary Kelly is an internationally renowned author and keynote speaker on leadership, productivity, and business growth. In 21 years as a Navy intelligence and logistics officer, Mary trained more than 40,000 military and civilian personnel.

After over 20 of years of leading diverse teams all over the world, Dr. Kelly’s approach to leadership is immediately practical and applicable. Mary discovered the need to make the principles of leadership, communication, and business growth available to leaders at all levels of organizations.  Mary has dedicated her career to core business tenets that engage employees and develop better leaders.

She has real world leadership experience and she shares it with her groups. Her Leadership Lessons from the Dog discussion is an enjoyable, interactive approach to getting the behaviors you want from the people who surround you. The communication session focuses on solving and resolving common misunderstandings in the workplace. Finally, Dr. Kelly helps her audiences stay mindful of what is important for success.  CDR Kelly’s program suggestions can be applied as soon as the audience leaves the room with immediate results.

Dr. Kelly is a popular speaker for both the U.S. Naval Academy and Hawaii Pacific University’s Speakers’ Bureaus on topics of finance, leadership, communication, and management. As an Emcee, Mary facilitates panels for economic, leadership, and business conferences. She has conducted over 3,000 seminars on financial, business, human resources, management and leadership topics to all levels of private and government corporations.

Dr. Kelly is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, earned an M.A. in economics from the University of Oklahoma, and M.A. in history from the University of Hawaii, and a PhD in economics from Greenwich University. Find out more at: https://productiveleaders.com


Linda Maloney: Linda Maloney is an award-winning author, business owner, leadership development professional, speaker and former military aviator and officer. She spent 20 years in the Navy, first as an enlisted air traffic controller and then as a Naval Flight Officer, flying both the A-6 “Intruder” and EA-6B “Prowler.” She was one of the first women in U.S. history to join a combat military flying squadron and received numerous military awards, including the distinguished air medal for combat, awarded for flights flown over Southern Iraq in support of the no-fly zone during her deployment to the Arabian Gulf. She also was the first woman to eject from a Martin Baker ejection seat from her A-6 aircraft in 1991 over the Atlantic Ocean.

Since retiring from the Navy, Linda started her second career working as a defense contractor supporting aviation and submarine programs. She is also an author, event speaker, and the founder of the Women Veterans Speakers Bureau. Her award-winning book—Military Fly Moms ~ Sharing Memories, Building Legacies, Inspiring Hope – was published in 2012, and is a biographical collection of the inspiring true stories and photographs of seventy women who shared the same two dreams—becoming aviators in the military and being moms.

Linda speaks throughout the country on topics such as Passing Down a Legacy, Leadership & Women, Women & Non-traditional Careers, Margin & Life Balance, Transitioning from Military Leadership to Business Leadership, and Aviation for K-12 Groups. Linda is also a small business owner and CEO of Women Veteran Speakers, the first speaker’s bureau and booking agency of its kind offering exclusively exceptional women military veterans as event speakers, trainers, coaches and facilitators. Linda and her husband, Dan, live in New Jersey and have a grown daughter and two sons, ages 11 and 13.


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