His Peers Said It Wasn’t “Professional” To Mentor A Junior Woman

ade419f1784d01f569c1ffe83dfcea7b-originaGood Thing He Didn’t Listen
Image courtesy of Marines.
Corner of the Court is a monthly feature on MARC published in partnership with The Corner of the Court Project, recognizing stories of male allies' impact on workplace inclusion, told by women.
For more stories (or to submit your own), visit www.cornerofthecourt.com.
By Susannah Stokes. I am an equalist—and one able, feisty woman. I am proud to say that this is due in no small part to my male mentors and allies. I celebrate one in particular, Lieutenant Colonel (LtCol) Kevin Korpinen, who was Commanding Officer of my Marine Corps unit during my second deployment to Afghanistan. I was a rising Captain when I met him.
LtCol Kevin Korpinen did not have the makings of a feminist at first glance. As a prior reconnaissance-Marine turned-air-traffic-control officer, most of his professional life had been spent with 18- to 20-something “dudes” whose idea of a good time was running 10 miles in the pouring rain with 100 pounds on their backs.

You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that he was a staunch feminist!

Once I joined his unit, I knew that this man would be one of the most important people in my life. I found that LtCol Korpinen was actually interested in finding answers to the challenges faced by women in the Marine Corps. When we discussed Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, he said, “I want you to teach our unit about that!” What?

A senior military officer wanted me to talk about gender parity, in front of Marines?!

LtCol Kevin Korpinen became my greatest champion, no matter the circumstances. He was a leader that made time to help me become a leader, despite criticism from his peers that it was not “professional” to mentor a junior female officer.

When I became a Uniformed Victim Advocate and educator about sexual assault in the military, he created opportunities for me to teach and made certain I had all the resources I needed to be the best one I could be. Most importantly, LtCol Korpinen made it clear that he believed the sky was the limit for me in this world.

I know that, without his insistence, support, and mentorship, I would not be working at Facebook in a job I love. I would not have founded several Lean In Circles or be on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Museum of California.

In short, without LtCol Korpinen, I would not be the equalist that I am today.

3b0a7ec937a950d56db1102357f7be59-originaSusannah Rose Stokes manages Facebook’s Communication and Culture initiatives for the Global Data Center team and leads Partnerships for the Facebook Veterans and Allies Resource Group. She is also an active member of the Women’s Museum of California board of directors.

Posted by MARC Catalyst on Mar 13, 2018 12:00 PM America/New_York
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