Way way back in 1995, I gave a talk at the national Computer Training & Support Conference on the topic of "Training the Internet Trainer." This was back when the Internet was still pretty new, and Internet trainers were very hard to come by. One of the people in the audience was a military employee from Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio, and he rushed back to tell his colleague Sheila Brennan that she absolutely had to hire me to do some Internet training at the base. And thus began a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
I gave talks at WPAFB in November 1995, February 1996, August 1996, and Februrary 1997. (Sheila, we were wrong; I wasn't there when I was pregnant with Lane, who was born 5/94, I was there when I was pregnant with Alex, who was born 10/96!) Sheila brought some of her colleagues down to meet me in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (where I then lived) in early 1997 so that I could help them develop a structure for a web-based database of training opportunities. And in 1998, after she'd taken a management job at Ramstein AFB in Germany, Sheila brought me out again to do training for foreign nationals on basic Internet concepts. (We also took a lovely trip through the Alsatian wine region, and spent a fabulous weekend in Paris!)
After that, Sheila dropped a little bit out of sight. I received occasional e-mails from her, including one saying she'd come stateside again, and was director of human resources at Hanscom AFB outside of Boston, but for the past ten years we've not had a professional relationship.
Then a few weeks ago I got an email from her asking me if I could come do some training on "social media" (blogs, wikis, social networking sites, virtual worlds) for her staff at Hanscom. The timing was perfect, since it's summer and I'm not based in Seattle this year. So I spent yesterday and today giving talks on basic concepts of social media ("What is a blog?" "How does RSS work?" "What is an avatar and why should you have one?") to members of her staff.
Once again, it was great fun to work with Sheila, who's one of the most intelligent, focused, and tenacious managers I've ever known. It gives me an incredible amount of hope to know that people like her are working for our military, and helping to push things in a direction that could make a difference!
Hopefully, it won't be another ten years before I'm back to offer assistance on technical topics. In fact, my next few weeks will include the process of trying to get my consulting business onto the GSA schedule, so it's easier for her to hire me. Wish me luck...I can't imagine that process will be a whole lot easier than the one I just went through to be able to get paid :)