FourBlock Celebrates Spring 2021 Veteran & Military Spouse Graduates & Marks 10th Anniversary in First National Livestream
The event featured a special keynote fireside chat with Bridgewater Associates CEO David McCormick, moderated by Citigroup Managing Director John Tien
On Thursday, May 13, 2021, hundreds of FourBlock students, alumni, and community members from across the country tuned in live to celebrate the transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses who graduated from FourBlock’s Spring 2021 Career Readiness Program and to commemorate FourBlock’s 10th Anniversary in the organization’s first-ever national live-streamed event.
FourBlock Founder Mike Abrams served as the host of the evening, welcoming attendees and sharing his gratitude for the support of our veteran and military spouses program participants, Board of Directors, team members, employer partners, donors, and community members over the past decade. Looking ahead to the next decade of service, Mike shared FourBlock’s vision for the next 10 years: “We want to build a community that is able to support every single veteran and [military] spouse with beginning a new and meaningful career back here at home. The only way that we’re able to do this is by building a community of service-minded people like you.”
After a welcome from Mike, we were honored to have opening remarks from General Charles C. Krulak, FourBlock’s Honorary Chairman, the 31st Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and author of Leadership and the Three Block War, which inspired FourBlock’s name. General Krulak congratulated the Spring 2021 graduates, thanking them for their service and sacrifice to our country. As our newest alumni enter the next chapters of their transitions, General Krulak shared the one piece of advice that he would give to transitioning service members to ensure success in business, family life, and friendship: “Be a man or a woman of character.” He went on to define character in three areas: selflessness, moral courage, and strength of integrity. “Care more about your fellow man or woman than you care about yourself,” General Krulak advised. “Do not worry about who gets the credit, only that the job gets done and done well.”
Following General Krulak’s remarks, guests were treated to a special keynote fireside chat with David McCormick, CEO of Bridgewater Associates, moderated by longtime FourBlock supporter John Tien, Managing Director at Citigroup. In a lively and inspiring discussion between the two West Point classmates, David answered questions about his military experience, the veteran transition, and leadership, generously sharing his wisdom and business expertise with attendees.
In conversation with John, David described his journey from the military to the private sector and recalled how his experience in the military furthered his ability to lead: “Of all the things I’ve done in my life, nothing was more fulfilling than my time in the military, and nothing prepared me more for the leadership challenges of business than those five years as an [Army] Officer.”
David addressed some of the challenges that veterans often face in making the transition back home and shared his advice for the graduates of FourBlock’s Spring 2021 Career Readiness Programs, and for all transitioning veterans who are trying to figure out what’s next. He described the types of skills that veterans might have that they should highlight as they approach their next career opportunity, including being mission-oriented, a focus on team and people, selflessness, and integrity, noting that those skills are all also foundational in business and in leadership: “The idea that’s it’s not about you, it’s about building teams, and the idea that the mission comes first, those things really resonate with leaders that are trying to build great organizations and great teams.”
After the fireside chat, the event featured remarks from a few of the incredible alumni of our Veteran and Military Spouse Career Readiness Programs along with just some of the partner representatives who make our programs possible. United States Marine Corps Veteran and Fall 2021 Veteran Career Readiness Program Alumnus Angel Reyes shared his experience with FourBlock’s program and how it helped prepare him for a new career as an Incoming Financial Analyst with Citi. We then had the honor of hearing from Ruth Christopherson, Senior Vice President at Citi, responsible for Citi Salutes, Citi’s veterans’ programs, and community development for the state of South Dakota.
A retired Colonel in the South Dakota Air National Guard, a passionate veteran advocate, and the driving force behind Citi’s veterans’ initiatives, Ruth underscored Citi’s incredible commitment to serving veterans, military members, and their families through its Citi Salutes program and shared some of the benefits of Citi’s partnership with FourBlock, including the “ability to have access to recruit outstanding veterans” and “the high level of personal satisfaction that all of our employees gain each time they engage with other veterans at a FourBlock event” as employee volunteers.
Next, attendees had the chance to learn more about our new program for military spouses from Susan Reitano Davey and Kelley Biskupiak, the co-founders of Prepare 2 Launch U (PTLU) and leads of the new joint FourBlock-PLTU Military Spouse Career Readiness Program. Susan and Kelley shared an overview of the partnership between FourBlock and PTLU, the impact of the Military Spouse Program to date and plans to serve more military spouses in the future. To conclude the evening, Military Spouse Pilot Program Graduate Becky Blamires joined us all the way from Australia to share some of the challenges she faced in her career as a military spouse, what she gained from participating in the Military Spouse Career Readiness pilot program, and where her career has taken her since participating in the program.
Thank you the entire FourBlock community for supporting our mission and those we serve for 10 incredible years! We sincerely look forward to continuing to work alongside you in the years ahead to make sure every single veteran and military spouse can make a successful transition and begin a new and meaningful civilian career.