This year’s Military Spouse Impact Award winners demonstrate that with determination and tenacity, military spouses are building their own careers alongside their service members.
Hiring Our Heroes honored Suzie Schwartz, spouse of the former Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. (Ret.) Norton Schwartz, with the Bonnie Amos Impact Award for Lifetime Achievement during the Hiring Our Heroes’ Fifth Annual Military Spouse Employment Summit, presented by USAA. This award, presented by Booz Allen Hamilton, is given annually to an individual for demonstrated hiring, mentorship, and support of military spouses in their search for meaningful employment.
Retired Army Gen. Dennis Via, Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton, presented Schwartz with the award in front of a virtual audience of nearly 3,000 military spouses, employers and veteran nonprofit organization representatives.
“Today, I am reminded of a quote from the founder of Booz Allen Hamilton, Edwin Booz, who said, ‘Start with character and fear not the future.’ This year’s recipient did exactly that. Through a lifetime of service to military spouses and families, she continually exemplifies the collective impact of using strong character and fearless drive to improve the lives of our military families,” Via said.
A longtime advocate of military spouse employment and the Department of Defense’s Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), Schwartz began her professional career as a Special Education teacher. While at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Schwartz worked with the Fisher House Foundation to establish a comfort home for the Veterans Administration Hospital in St. Louis, and was instrumental in the establishment of another Fisher House facility at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. These homes provide family members with a comfortable and supportive place to stay while supporting a hospitalized family member or, in the case of the home at Dover, the unanticipated loss of a loved one.
“Suzie reminds us all the time of the power of the military spouse. It just takes caring and acting,” said Rosemary Williams, Specialist Executive at Deloitte Consulting.
Schwartz currently serves as the Vice President for Military Spouse Programs for Victory Media. She writes a monthly column for Military Spouse magazine and serves as one of its national spokespersons for media appearances on matters relating to military spouses. Schwartz also serves as a board member for the National Military Family Association, the Fisher House Foundation and the Air Force Enlisted Village.
Meredith Lozar, Senior Director of Events and Programs at Hiring Our Heroes, said that Schwartz encourages military spouses to have their own careers and identity while supporting their service member spouses.
“Suzie has impacted countless military families in her celebrated work as a military spouse, as an advocate, and as a friend. She opens doors, she encourages spouses to walk through them, and coaches them on what to do when they get to the other side,” Lozar said. “In her own career and in the careers of those she has mentored, she demonstrates that you can do both.”
Through her encouragement and mentorship, Schwartz has helped countless military spouses connect with professional opportunities that before meeting Schwartz, these men and women didn’t believe were possible due to the hardships present in military life.
“Suzie is a person who has dedicated her life to helping create opportunities for military spouses and looking at their careers, she was a person who said ‘I can provide those introductions for you. I can help you expand your network so that you can grow and succeed,’” Lozar said. “That is why we are celebrating her this year as we took a look at the progress that has been made in military spouse employment and discuss how we are shaping the future of this important work.”
Other Military Spouse Impact Award winners included Jasmine Tiara, Navy spouse and owner of the Black Wallet. Tiara was given the Military Spouse Entrepreneur Impact Award, presented by JP Morgan Chase. Launched in 2017, the Black Wallet is a Black-woman owned, digital resource center for thousands of Black-owned businesses in America.
“Jasmine’s ingenuity in creating the Black Wallet gives all of us an opportunity to elevate Black-owned businesses. Her efforts amplify the voices of the Black small business community in hopes of inspiring those new to running a business and supporting those who are already on their way,” said Jennifer Roberts, CEO of Chase Business Banking at & Co, during her remarks at the virtual summit.
Samantha Domingo received the Military Spouse Volunteer Impact Award presented by Toyota. Over the last six years, Domingo has grown to be a community builder in San Antonio. Domingo is a member of the Military Team at Amazon Web Services (AWS) where she works as a military technical recruiter, but her commitment to military spouse employment doesn’t end when she leaves her job.
She serves as the San Antonio MSEEZ co-chair for the “Hiring Military Spouses” pillar, working to ensure military spouses are connected to employers in the local area.
Domingo is a co-founder of #LinkedInMilCity, which prior to the COVID-19 pandemic drew hundreds of military spouses and veterans to the in-person meetings monthly. When COVID hit, the meetups were moved to a virtual platform. Through these efforts Domingo and her husband have connected San Antonio employers with members of the military community looking for employment and to grow their networks.
Finally, the city of Tampa was honored with the Community Leader Impact Award presented by Deloitte for being a leader in cross-sector solutions for military spouse employment challenges.
In 2020, the Tampa MSEEZ committee members created a local military spouse employment directory, a direct line of communication between Military Spouse Professional Network members and 30 local hiring managers at military-ready companies. Community leaders believe this directory will help to reduce the hiring time following a military spouse’s relocation to the local area.
“Together with Hiring Our Heroes and our local chambers, we will continue the work to make Tampa the best place in the country for military spouse employment,” said Katie Lopez, Director of Military and Workforce Development at the Tampa Bay Chamber.