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Relaunch Your Career: Return to Work Opportunities for the Military-Connected Community


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Relaunch Your Career: Return to Work Opportunities for the Military-Connected Community

Supporting Veterans and Military Spouses

iRelaunch is on a mission to normalize career breaks for relaunchers everywhere. In this conversation, we'll sit with Krystal Shorts, Structural Engineer at Burns & McDonnell and an active-duty Navy wife, Karen Golden, Advocacy Manager for the State of New Jersey chapter at the Alzheimer's Association and a military family advocate, and Christopher DeJesus, NASA ISS Flight Controller & Instructor. The conversation will be moderated by April Keating, Manager of Military and Community Outreach and iRelaunch and a military spouse who is motivated to introduce career enrichment opportunities for the military community. Calling all relaunchers to get charged!

Krystal Shorts

Arushi Grover

Krystal Shorts is an active-duty Navy wife, mother of three, and a Structural Engineer working for Burns & McDonnell in their world headquarters in Kansas City, MO. Within her company, she is a part of an Employee Resource Group called VETS (Veterans Empowered to Serve) where she hopes to grow military spouse initiatives as well. While born and raised in Southern California, her parents immigrated from American Samoa and the Philippines. There they raised Krystal and her four younger siblings.

Her military life began in Hawaii after meeting her husband, Sam, a Navy Supply Officer. During the last eight years the military has brought them from Hawaii to California, Virginia, and Kansas. After having her first child, Krystal resigned and stayed home full-time. She remained home for 4.5 years and then began her journey back into the professional world. She is currently studying for her Masters in Civil Engineering at the University of Kansas.

When not working or studying, Krystal enjoys exploring the area with her family and envisioning a brighter future in sustainable and equitable communities. She often dreams of creating an organization that will advocate and build these communities with the utmost spirit of investment in people and collaboration of stakeholders. Concepts from her faith, engineering, urban planning, and sociology have fueled her passion to remain involved in whatever city the Navy takes them. While in Virginia, she volunteered and joined a one-year Carnegie funded project that worked to design and innovate collaborative efforts for the public schools district that serves over 60,000 students. Krystal currently volunteers to support students through STEM competitions like Battle of the Brains, organizations such as KC Scholars and a unique city collective, KC Global Design.

Krystal's wide range of perspectives brings a helpful framework to partner with others in building spaces and solutions for the community around them.

Karen Golden

Arushi Grover

Karen Golden is an experienced legislative lobbyist, military family advocate, and trained social worker known for her expertise regarding military family quality of life issues. She is currently the New Jersey State Advocacy Manager for the Alzheimer's Association, Greater New Jersey Chapter, where she leads state and federal advocacy campaign activities, in part by empowering volunteers to use their voice to influence legislative change.

Prior to joining the Alzheimer's Association, she worked tirelessly for those in the military, veterans, and their families in New Jersey and New York. First, as the Director of Military Affairs for Cornerstone Family Programs in Morristown, NJ, where she led a multi-disciplinary team of outreach and counseling the provided director services to the military community. Then, as the Director of Volunteer Services for the USO of Metropolitan New York, the nation's leading organization serving U.S. military members and their families during their time in uniform.

She previously served as Deputy Director of Government Relations for the Military Officers Association of America in Alexandria, VA where she ardently advocated for military families through state and federal legislation and has lobbied for a variety of issues, including military spouse employment, military children's education, military family quality of life, and the various challenges family members face. She has addressed numerous audiences, from the White House to Capitol Hill, elevating the voice of the veteran community and the military family.

Karen is the recipient of the Army's Outstanding Civilian Service Award and the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society's Superior Service Award. She has extensive experience working with military families in a variety of other key positions including with the Department of Defense Education Activity, Family Advocacy, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and the Marine Corps Family Readiness Program. Karen taught "Serving those that Served" an online graduate level course for Columbia University, College of Social Work. Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bradley University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Christopher DeJesus

Arushi Grover

Christopher DeJesus currently works for NASA as an International Space Station (ISS) flight controller and instructor supporting and executing 24/7 real-time operations with hundreds of real-time hours and execution of thousands of ISS commands since 2018. He is responsible for managing the ISS solar arrays, rotating joints, batteries, External Thermal Control System (ETCS), and power distribution systems from Houston Mission Control Center. Christopher has critical involvement in the development, implementation, modification, testing, validation, and troubleshooting of spacecraft hardware and subsystems. He plans, supports, and executes real-time missions including nominal orbital operations, Visiting Vehicle rendezvous and docking, Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA), and contingency safing for hardware/software failure troubleshooting and recovery.

Prior to NASA, Christopher was hired by the State Department in 2016, serving as manager/instructor for the Overseas Training Branch (OTB) to train diplomats, Ambassadors, and other government employees on hostage and personnel recovery tactics, techniques, and procedures prior to departing to overseas posts.

From 2007-2016, Christopher served in the United States Military as an Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Specialist. He was stationed at Fairchild AFB, Washington, where he served as lead trainer, group lead, and multiple instructional roles. Christopher was then stationed at Andrews AFB, Maryland serving as the Program Manager for all SERE related activities at the Presidential Airlift and the surrounding areas, where he worked closely with a multitude of federal and state agencies at all differing levels within the government.

Christopher is originally from Talkeetna, Alaska where he enjoys the great outdoors, hiking, fishing, camping, primitive survival, and more. He also likes scuba diving, sky diving, and traveling throughout the world.

April Keating

Arushi Grover

April Keating is the Manager of Military and Community Outreach at iRelaunch, a career reentry consulting, training and events company focused on bringing professionals back into the workforce after extended leave. April is the spouse of a retired Army National Guard Soldier and is passionate about connecting the military community with resources to assist in their entrepreneurial and employment endeavors. She left a corporate job in 2006 to marry her Soldier, move halfway across the country, and eventually start an entrepreneurial venture as a means to hold career continuity while raising two boys and living the military lifestyle.

April gained her Associates of Arts in General Studies from Des Moines Area Community College in 2005, then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Management from Park University in 2010. She became a part of the team at iRelaunch in November of 2016, and recognizing the immense value of returnships for the military-connected community, April is at the helm of iRelaunch's military community outreach and champions the advancement of return to work opportunities for military spouses and veterans. She is currently pursuing her Professional in Human Resources certification through the IVMF's Onward to Opportunity (O2O) program.

April also gives back to the military community through a number of volunteer efforts, to include virtual mentorship via the Veterati and eMentor platforms, community involvement with Blue Star Families, and participation in the Quad Cities (IA/IL) Veterans Network.

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