Scott Air Force Base News

Scott hosts women’s mentorship panel

Second Lt. Tahlia Clanagan, 375th Communications Support Squadron, listens to a speaker at the women’s mentorship panel March 9. As someone new to the Air Force, Clanagan said she wanted to gain leadership advice from community leaders.
Second Lt. Tahlia Clanagan, 375th Communications Support Squadron, listens to a speaker at the women’s mentorship panel March 9. As someone new to the Air Force, Clanagan said she wanted to gain leadership advice from community leaders.

Women business leaders from the community participated in a mentorship panel March 9 and addressed the challenges they face, and their formulas for success, in the workplace with the Scott community.

The panel was comprised of Dr. Ronda Sauget, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois executive director; Stacy Frierdich-Hinrichs, Lodging Hospitality Management regional operations manager; Sarah Durbin, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois; Kristen Poshard, Madison County Community Development chief deputy administrator; and Melissa Erker, Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery Government and Community Relations director.

Frierdich-Hinrichs is a leader within her hotel management firm, where she has received recognition from the hotel chain, including a Pride Award and Hospitality Award of Excellence. She is also a general manager for one of the hotel’s restaurants, which has been recognized as one of the top 100 steakhouses in the country. She said she wanted to be on the panel so she could encourage women to be brave and take risks in their lives.

I came to try to gain some leadership perspective from a woman’s standpoint. Me being a young, and new lieutenant in the Air Force, I’m looking for anything I can gather and feel comfortable with applying to my own leadership style among whomever I’m working with.

2nd Lt. Tahlia Clanagan, 375th Communications Support Squadron application development officer in charge

“To be successful, my advice is don’t give up, be intimidated, or be scared,” Frierdich-Hinrichs said.

“In my position, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. To get to a position, don’t be afraid to speak up or voice your opinions. Don’t feel guilty about that, either.”

Sauget, in her current role as executive director of the Leadership Council, is responsible for identifying and mobilizing leaders in business, industry, labor, education and government, and building effective partnerships to address regional economic development issues.

Having a doctorate degree and an MBA with an emphasis in Market Research, she said she understands the importance of women having confidence within science, technology, engineering, and mathematical fields, which are important disciplines for women to get involved in.

“Careers in STEM are so critical for our women to be part of,” Sauget said.

The panel included five women from the surrounding community, who are leaders in their field or company: Ronda Sauget, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois executive director; Stacy Frierdich-Hinrichs, Lodging Hospitality Management regional operations manager; Sarah Durbin, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois; Kristen Poshard, Madison County Community Development chief deputy administrator; and Melissa Erker, Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery Government and Community Relations director.

“Women need to have a voice at the table. It will change how research and projects are done, and how solutions are attacked in project development. It’s really critical to have an equal mix of men and women.

“For too long, we haven’t seen women at the table, but when women hear about these careers, and that they can really be instrumental in advancing our society, in our region, and move the economy forward, I think it inspires them to look at careers in those areas.”

Sauget said it’s important to have a good reputation and to be known as an expert in your chosen field as a way to "stand out" from the crowd.

“To be successful as a woman in the business community is to always be the person who has done your homework, is willing to work hard, is a risk taker, and fierce in your determination.” she said.

“I think those are keys to success that will enable you to tackle tough issues. If people see you as the problem solver, everybody wants to be on your team.”

As someone who is just starting her military career, 2nd Lt. Tahlia Clanagan, 375th Communications Support Squadron, said she came to the panel to gain wisdom from women who know what it takes to be a woman in a leadership position.

“I came to gain some leadership perspective from a woman’s standpoint,” Clanagan said.

To be successful, my advice is, don’t give up, be intimidated, or be scared; that’s what I see, most often. In my position, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. To get to a position, don’t be afraid to speak up or voice your opinions. Don’t feel guilty about that, either.

Stacy Frierdich-Hinrichs, Lodging Hospitality Management regional operations manager

“As a new lieutenant in the Air Force, I’m looking for anything I can gather and feel comfortable with so I can apply it to my own leadership style with whomever I’m working with. I’ve learned to be brave and bold, and to not be afraid to step out there and take risks. I know that’s something that I did need to hear; I’m certainly someone who is a little more on the timid side, so hearing that and seeing what these women have been able to accomplish—that’s something I would love to do.”

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