Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Women and Leadership conference encourages peer-to-peer learning

A long line of hikers along a trail in Idaho.
Conference attendees from multiple agencies hike the Old Penitentiary Trail above Boise, Idaho, at sunset on Sept. 24, 2019. National Park Service photos courtesy Anna Rose.

IDAHO—The 7th annual “Women and Leadership” conference was held Sept. 25‒26 at Boise State University, just across town from the National Interagency Fire Center. Leaders in business, law, science, environment, the armed services, government and the arts were among the more than 900 attendees of the conference, the goal of which is to “highlight women in leadership positions of all kinds and to encourage both genders to foster growth in themselves and others.”

The land management and wildland fire communities were well represented at the conference with USDA Forest Service attendees joined by their partners from the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and other federal and state agencies.

And this year, as in previous years, the formal conference at Boise State was book-ended by several group hikes among agency employees and conference attendees, as well as a day-long session for the wildland fire community at NIFC Sept. 27. The interagency events at NIFC included a panel discussion with fire leadership, the opportunity to share stories and experiences and reflections on the topics covered by the speakers at the main conference.

Fire and Aviation Management Director Shawna Legarza has attended twice and looks at it as “an opportunity to open dialogue and share experiences that allow for peer-to-peer learning and networking.” Legarza said she most looks forward to meeting other women leaders in the agency and sharing her experiences in order to help others be successful.

“The role of every leader is important,” Legarza said. “We must continue to support each other in this way, to help the agency underscore the amazing culture we have in wildland firefighting.”