Women urged to ‘file flight plan’ to direct their careers

Navy Capt. Shoshana Chatfield tells a University of Toledo audience that women can advance themselves as leaders, regardless of their field.
Navy Capt. Shoshana Chatfield tells a University of Toledo audience that women can advance themselves as leaders, regardless of their field.

As a Navy helicopter pilot, Capt. Shoshana Chatfield soars in a field where women were not always expected to excel.

The former commander of the Helicopter Sea Combat Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, shared leadership lessons she’s learned from life and service with about 250 area women Wednesday at The Pinnacle in Maumee. She spoke during the third Women’s Leadership Forum presented by the University of Toledo college of business and innovation.

“I feel like I bring a perspective, having seen ways to move forward professionally as a woman. And I’m hopeful that, when I speak to women’s groups, it can be inspiring, and that I can share my ideas, things that have worked for me,” said Captain Chatfield, 47, of San Diego.

She’s currently on the staff awaiting orders at Commander Naval Air Forces Pacific. Captain Chatfield earned her bachelor’s degree from Boston University in international relations and French language and literature and participated in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps.

Captain Chatfield has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University and a doctor of education from the University of San Diego.

Her Navy career included commanding an Afghanistan provincial reconstruction team in 2008.

During her address, Captain Chatfield drew parallels between her Navy experience and leadership skills women can use to succeed in business. She urged women to “file a flight plan,” a guide that directs what they want to achieve. She also stressed good communication, networking, and setting specific, attainable, and measurable goals.

UT previously hosted the leadership forum for women in 2009 and 2011. Clint Longenecker, a UT business college professor, met Captain Chatfield at a conference they both spoke at a year ago. He recommended her to speak to the event’s participants, who included women from companies around the region.

“We are about developing leaders,” he said of the college’s mission. “Anything we can do to provide inspiration, motivation, education in that regard is a big plus.”

Claudia Vercellotti of Toledo attended the forum and said she finds personal and professional fulfillment when she sees women in leadership positions.

“When my grandmother was born, it was illegal in this country for women to vote, and I’ve never, ever lost sight of that. So, to be in a room with so many empowered women who are doing trailblazing in their fields — be it not-for-profit, be it corporate America, be it home ... wherever it is — is really inspiring,” said Ms. Vercellotti, an eligibility specialist at Chamberlin Edmonds & Associates. “To have all of these women leaders coming together, how can you not be inspired?”