Focus Forward Fellowship

Program Overview

Focus Forward FellowshipThe Focus Forward Fellowship is a program designed to build skills, leadership and a sense of community among female student veterans and military-connected women.

Through the program, Fellows are:

  • build a community of support with peers;
  • access corporate mentors to develop new career skills;
  • understand individual strengths and how to maximize those strengths;
  • identify strategies and resources to increase connections and success on campus;
  • gain confidence in problem solving; and
  • develop skills to help foster academic and career goals.

About the program

The Fellowship begins with a free, four day residency program. Cost of travel, food, lodging, activities and materials is covered by MFRI and other sponsoring institutions. All Fellows are competitively selected from a national group of applicants who:

  • hold an honorable discharge (if applicable) from the U.S. military or were a dependent of a veteran who does;
  • are sophomores, juniors or seniors, or pursing a master’s degree; and
  • maintain a grade point average of 2.9 or better.

Once selected, Fellows participate in preparation activities prior to the program. They then attend the weekend portion of the program. Throughout the following academic year, Fellows will engage in an online learning community. These online activities include:

  • participate in scheduled webinar(s), discussion boards, and conference calls;
  • read assigned material(s) and completing activities; and
  • interact with peers, advocates and program staff through the online learning community.

Supporting the Program

MFRI is grateful for the support of Colorado State University, which is sponsoring a June 7 cohort; it is open to military-connected women at Colorado schools. We are also grateful for the support of Got Your 6, a sponsor of our July 26 cohort held in Indianapolis, open to military-connected women from schools across the nation.

If you are interested in supporting the Focus Forward Fellowship, or want to learn more about the Fellowship, please contact:

Lauren Runco
Director, Education and Employment
Military Family Research Institute
Purdue University
(765) 496-6045

Applications for the 2017 Focus Forward Fellowship are now closed. Sign up below to receive our eBriefing for information about next year’s Fellowship along with updates on other MFRI research, outreach and initiatives.

Learn about the program, and join the conversation by following MFRI on Twitter at @MFRIPurdue and using #FWDFellows.

Colorado State University cohort – Fort Collins, CO, June 7-11, 2017

Colorado State University Logo

This program is open to all military-connected women who are either sophomores, juniors or seniors, or pursing their master’s degree at the following institutions:

  • Colorado State University-Fort Collins
  • Colorado State University-Pueblo
  • University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS)
  • University of Colorado Denver
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Colorado Community College System

National cohort – Indianapolis, IN, July 26-30, 2017

Colorado State University Logo

This program is open to all military-connected women who are either sophomores, juniors or seniors, or pursing their master’s degree.

What Fellows Are Saying

Tabitha Eaton, Boise State University

I am a junior and undergraduate student working on my bachelor’s degree in social work. I served in the United States Air Force before I was medically retired in February of 2014. The motivation for me to apply for the Focus Forward Fellowship was due to an encouraging email from my assigned vocational rehabilitation counselor who oversees my education plan.

Listen to Tabitha's comments.

Tamara Jones, Georgia State University

I always dreamed of being a grassroots advocate of the unique plight of female veterans. When this opportunity was presented, I felt like it was fate. Who better to progress women veterans than fellow women veterans?

Listen to Tamara's comments.

Rebekah Lloyd, Regent University

I was interested to see how this program was going to address our unique needs. One of the most important takeaways that I had with the residential program was the one-on-one mentoring that took place; whether this happened with a woman who was there to teach a class, lead a discussion, or even with another Fellow.

Listen to Rebekah's comments.

2016 Photo Gallery


Kimberly D. Bloodgood

Kimberly D. Bloodgood, M.Ed., is the director of IUPUI’s Office for Veteran and Military Personnel. As an U.S. Air Force veteran she currently serves as the secretary/treasurer of IUPUI’s Faculty and Staff Veteran Council. Kim began her role serving U.S. service members in 2008 as a school certifying official, financial aid consultant and veteran services coordinator at Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Indiana. After completing her master’s degree in adult education, she advanced to the position of program director with the Indiana State Approving Agency. There she approved GI Bill training programs, educated school certifying officials and performed compliance surveys at approved institutions. Kim is dedicated to assisting her brothers and sisters in their educational goals’ and assisting them as they transition from the military to college – and then to a career.

Carolyn Brown

Carolyn Brown is director of Easter Seals Crossroads Veteran Services. A few years ago, Easter Seals Crossroads recognized the need to help create more welcoming communities for returning troops. Carolyn has helped convene community leaders around best practices in connecting veterans and their families to resources in their own communities. After significant input from veterans, families, and community leaders, a second emphasis for veteran well-being has been embraced, with the goal of helping veterans thrive. Connecting veterans and their families to employment and stable housing is also a priority. The number of families connected to resources, housing, and employment exceeds 1000 each year. A graduate of Purdue University and is a former teacher and consultant, Carolyn has been in nonprofit management for 20 years and has served on a number of nonprofit boards of directors.

Genevieve Chase

Genevieve Chase is the founder and executive director of American Women Veterans and a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom VII. After enlisting in the U.S. Army Reserve in 2003, Chase volunteered to serve with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). While deployed to Afghanistan as a sergeant in 2006, her vehicle was attacked by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. The passengers survived the attack, but suffered varying degrees of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder. To counter symptoms of TBI and PTS, Chase dedicated herself to veterans’ advocacy. Since returning from active duty service, Chase has worked tirelessly to bring to light the issues faced by today’s veterans. While advocating on their behalf, she discovered a need for a focus on women veterans and their families from all eras and branches of service. From that void, Chase created American Women Veterans and began, in earnest, the 21st century women veterans’ movement. Chase is a recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Action Badge. She's testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee about her experiences in Afghanistan as well as the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee concerning women’s health care. In addition to her role as executive director of AWV, she serves as a SFC in the U.S. Army Reserve. For her outstanding work both in and out of uniform, Chase was in 2016 inducted into the Army Women's Hall of Fame.

Lynda Davis

Lynda Davis serves as the executive vice president at the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), where she is the executive director of the Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN). A former soldier, Davis served as deputy undersecretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy. She led the joint U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purple team to reform care management support for wounded warriors, veterans and their families. Davis is nationally recognized for her leadership in the development and implementation of significant and sustainable programs that successfully support the full spectrum of quality of life services for military personnel, veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors. A former VA Medical Center clinician, she and her multidisciplinary, interagency team created the DoD and VA Recovery Care Programs, initiated the use of comprehensive, family focused Recovery Care Plans and launched the National Resource Directory all to promote the delivery of best practice and highest quality care and support. She served on the faculty of the University of Southern California’s Departments of Psychiatry and Public Administration, where she earned her master’s degree and doctorate in public administration (human services administration). She also holds a master’s degree in community clinical psychology andserves on the boards of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Student Veterans of America.

Priscilla “Pris” Gerde

Pris serves as advisor-in-residence in the Krannert Professional Development Center, which is housed at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. She is an experienced manager and advisor who spent nearly 38 years in the pharmaceutical industry at Eli Lilly and Company prior to her July 2011 retirement. Pris had initial career responsibilities in corporate affairs, including communications and corporate social responsibility, as well as a relief sales role in New England. She spent her final 18 years in human resources, with responsibility for employee benefits administration for the company’s $300 million health plan. Before joining Lilly, Pris served on the staffs of two Lt. Governors through the Indiana Department of Commerce and edited “Commerce and Indiana” magazine. She is passionate about volunteer engagement and is actively involved in the community, serving on several nonprofit boards of directors, including the Lafayette Symphony, Inc., as its president. Pris has a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and resides nearby in the Battle Ground, Ind.,area

Sharlee Lyons

Sharlee Lyons earned her bachelor’s degree in English education from Taylor University and her master’s degree in student personnel administration from Ball State. A student success professional and teacher at heart. She served as a corporate trainer at Brightpoint, Inc. and was the training manager at Purdue Federal Credit Union. She later founded The People Business, Inc., her own training and consulting firm. For three years, she served as the director of public relations and marketing at The United Way of Greater Lafayette has worked with students at Huntington and Purdue universities. She joined Purdue’s Krannert School of Management staff in June 2014 where she works with students and staff on personal and professional leadership development. Her mission in life is to be an encouragement to others and help them realize their strengths and potential.

Betty Moseley Brown

Dr. Betty Moseley Brown serves as associate director of the Center for Women Veterans. In this capacity, she helps advise the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on programs and issues related to women veterans. She is also the lead for the Women Veterans Program.

Her VA career has spanned decades following her service in the U.S. Marine Corps (1978-1992). Her various VA positions include veteran benefits counselor, management analyst, and as the first outreach coordinator for the Veterans Benefits Administration. She also served as the facilitator for VA’s National Summit on Women Veterans’ Issues, a major training and outreach event for women veterans and their advocates. She has also been instrumental in promoting national awareness of the contributions made by women who served in the military, through outreach efforts and various department-wide efforts, such as VA’s “Her Story” campaign and the “Faces Behind the War.” Currently, Dr. Moseley Brown is the program lead for VA’s women veterans program and the Women Veteran’s Campaign.

Dr. Moseley Brown earned her doctorate from the University of Sarasota. She is an avid Toastmaster, a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute and serves as the national president of the Women Marines Association. The members of this non-profit charitable organization are USMC women service members and veterans.

Patricia C. Pope

As CEO and co-founder of Pope & Associates, Pat is a recognized pioneer in the diversity and inclusion industry. For almost four decades she has consulted with hundreds of Fortune 500 companies across a wide range of industries, as well as government, academic and nonprofit organizations. In 1977, Pat and her late husband, Merlin G. Pope, Jr. coined the term “diversity” to refer to the changing demographics of the U.S. workforce. In 1990, she coined the term, “The Illusion of Inclusion,” which was the focus of her master’s thesis and resulted in the innovative Team Interaction Profile™, which statistically measures inclusion. In 2007, Pat was selected by Profiles in Diversity Journal as a pioneer in the diversity industry. In April, 2012, she was recognized by the International Society of Diversity and Inclusion Professionals as a “Diversity Legend” at their inaugural conference in Puerto Rico. She is also co-founder and co-owner of Myca-Pope, Inc. a company that offers technology-based delivery methods for the Pope proprietary content. Their first program, The EDGE Advantage, won two international awards for innovation in training media. Pat spent the first 10 years of her career in a large multinational company where she was involved in the organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts in the early 1970s. Pat’s bachelor’s degree is in business and the social sciences, and she has a master’s degree in organizational development from Pepperdine University. She is a frequent speaker at national conferences and annual business meetings on diversity and inclusion.

Nakia White

Nakia White born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and joined the Army right after high school, where she served four years including a 2004 deployment to Iraq. Upon her discharge, Nakia used her GI Bill to go to college where she received an associate in healthcare administration and interned at Cincinnati’s VA Medical Center. This internship catapulted her career as a civilian with the federal government. After years of successful growth within the organization, Nakia decided to go back to school and pursue her bachelor’s degree in business studies to further her career. Nakia will soon be the proud holder of a bachelor’s degree in business studies and plans to continue on to obtain her master’s degree in human resource management, all while working a full-time job, raising a family, and pursuing her passion of the arts.

Current Focus Forward Fellowship Supporters

MFRI is grateful for the individuals and organizations who, because of their commitment to women veterans, helped to support this initiative.

Purdue University partners, including faculty, staff and administration:

External corporations, organizations, agencies and nonprofits:

  • American Women Veterans
  • CNO Services, LLC
  • Colorado State University
  • Cummins
  • Department of Veterans Affairs - Center for Women Veterans
  • Easter Seals Crossroads
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • FedEx
  • Got Your 6
  • IUPUI’s Office for Veteran and Military Personnel
  • NASPA Veterans Knowledge Community
  • National Association of Veteran Program Administrations (NAVPA)
  • National Military Family Association
  • Pat Tillman Foundation
  • Pope & Associates
  • Student Veterans of America
  • Tragedy Assistance Programs for Survivors (Military and Veteran Caregiver Network)