Helping the Next Generation Climb the Ladder
By Kathy Gugulis
Every January, the Montgomery County Commission for Women, a department of the county government, hosts a day-long conference to discuss issues and policies. This year’s Women’s Legislative Briefing held on January 31 was different in two ways: It was held virtually and it featured two prominent Republican women, Amie Hoeber and Rose Li.
Their participation was coordinated by Sharon Bauer, President of the Montgomery County Federation of Republican Women, a sponsor of the event. “We have some amazing women with great experiences and insights to share,” she said. “It’s time that Republicans participate in such county discussions.”
Amie Hoeber spoke about leadership and the importance of mentorship, especially the benefits of having mentors who have different experiences and views. “When I started out in the defense business, there were no other women in the business. But I did have men mentors,” she said. As her career advanced from (Deputy Under Secretary of the Army) in Reagan’s Defense Department to that of a prominent consultant and Congressional nominee, she considered it “a moral obligation” to serve as a mentor for other women. Hoeber and a friend started an informal mentoring group called CLONE, an acronym for Chemical Ladies Only Networking Events, to help women in the nuclear, chemical and biological defense industry meet other women in their fields. They met in people’s homes just to talk and connect. She also served as a member of the White House Taskforce for Women in STEM.
What makes a good mentor? “Caring!” Hoeber said. Find someone who cares about you and your goals, she urged. “View every senior woman you meet as a potential mentor. Learn to recognize an opportunity when it walks past.”
Rose Li, a former Republican nominee for LD16 Delegate, spoke on another panel entitled, “Women on the Frontlines.” Owner of a consulting firm with clients such as National Institutes of Health (NIH) and large pharmaceutical companies, she facilitates conferences, meeting reports, strategic plans, etc. She spoke about the challenges when COVID hit and conferences were cancelled. Her company stood to lose more than $1 million in revenue.
She and her 24 member staff immediately stepped up and developed capability to handle virtual meetings, “repurposed” writing staff to set up virtual meetings, and triaged her more senior staff to handle more complex meetings. It meant researching and learning new software applications to handle different client needs on different platforms, while new apps were popping up all the time. “It was a game changer for us and I don’t think we’ll ever go back to just in-person meetings,” Li said. She was especially proud of role they played in assisting NIH with its public/private partnership to accelerate the vaccine process.
From her experience, Li offered three policy recommendations for legislative action: 1) liability protection for employers whose employees may contract COVID at work, despite their best efforts to provide a clean and safe work area; 2) discourage legislatures from changing programs mid-stream because it makes it hard for businesses to plan; and 3) control rent and related expense increases during COVID since it is especially hard for small businesses to dispute increased charges for things like utilities.
The Potomac Republican Women’s Club joined with the Montgomery County Federation of Republican Women and other groups to sponsor the Legislative Briefing this year.
Kathy Gugulis is a member of the Potomac Republican Women's Club, the Federation and a strong advocate for the citizens of Montgomery County.