Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership senior Carolyn Denny traveled last month to Colorado Springs for the Air Force Academy’s annual National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS). One of the nation’s premier symposia in the field of character and leadership development, the NCLS brings together distinguished scholars, military leaders, corporate executives, world-class athletes, and others to explore a character-related theme based on the Academy’s institutional outcomes. It provides the opportunity for Academy personnel, visiting university students and faculty, and community members to experience dynamic speakers and take part in group discussions to enhance their own understanding of the importance and challenges of sound moral character and leadership. Amy Underwood, VWIL’s director of leadership development, accompanied Denny on the trip.
Denny said her favorite speakers of the three-day trip were Major Dan Rooney, founder of the Folds of Honor Foundation, who imparted advice about making a lasting impression; Scott Hines, founder and CEO of Hines Global Education and city councilman of Rancho Mirage, California, who shared a story about inclusivity; and Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, commander of the Air Force Material Command.
Wolfenbarger was a member of the first class of women to matriculate into the Air Force Academy. In her speech, Denny said, Wolfenbarger explained how she has learned the fundamentals of leadership.
“General Wolfenbarger said, ‘Any day I will take someone without depth and knowledge but with a positive attitude, over someone with depth and knowledge but a negative attitude.’ This was very meaningful to me,” Denny said. “Someone once told me, ‘you are your biggest enemy.’ It is true, and here was one of only 13 four-star generals reiterating that philosophy.”