NAME: Lorie Vega
NSIN AFFILIATION: NSIN Bootcamp Alum
AFFILIATION: Deputy, 28th Mission Support Group, Ellsworth AFB
STATE: South Dakota
Q: What inspired you to explore the national security community? Do you have a connection to the Military/Government Service?
I have been an Air Force employee since I completed my undergraduate degree. I have been in a leadership role since I completed my internship during my first two years of service. I was inspired to explore the national security community because I believe it is an excellent way to solve problems, build synergy and partnerships, and enrich the work lives of all involved.
Q: As a woman, how is the national security community different for you?
I have often been the only woman in the room throughout my 35 years of service and frequently the only civilian. I have never thought anyone would treat me differently and maybe by that sheer belief and my confidence, they never did, or at least not in a way that had an impact or lasted more than a brief moment. I am often not the most knowledgeable person on a given topic we are discussing. I’ve learned to embrace that and I have gained so much knowledge in a wide variety of fields.
Q: What legacy do you want to leave for the next generation of women professionals in the innovation ecosystem?
There are no limits to what you can do, other than those you put on yourself. Always keep an open mind, ask questions and be able to ask for help. There is strength in that. Be assertive but not aggressive. When someone tries to put a stereotype on you, talk it out. Never assume someone else’s motives or intent — communicate always.
Q: Do you remember a moment when you saw a difference for women in the professional world? What do you remember? How did it impact your work?
Yes. I started in civil service over 30 years ago. When I went in to apply for my first job, I was told Air Force Officer’s wives don’t work, they support their spouse’s career. I didn’t let that stop me. One of my early bosses promoted me to be his deputy and an issue came up and I told him my thoughts on what we should do. He was a retired Chief and pretty crusty. He asked me if I thought he promoted me so I could give him my opinion on everything. I told him in fact I did, because I was sure he didn’t hire me to make coffee. He stared at me for a moment and said I was right. From that point on, we made a great team and we are friends to this day. When these things came up, which they rarely did, I was always able to deal with them in a very straightforward way. I think tackling those issues early in my career just strengthened my confidence and gave me courage to be assertive.
Q: What books, podcasts, or thought leaders do you recommend when it comes to Women’s History Month and understanding the issues facing women in the workplace?
I’d recommend “The Likeability Trap”, “Leading Gracefully”, “Lead From the Outside”, and of course anything by Brene Brown. I would also encourage self exploration through a personality assessment — I am very fond of DiSC.