Beth Conlin

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Fort Moore

Number of Deployments: 5

Number of PCS's: 11

Share your military spouse story:
When my husband told me he went to West Point, my response was "West of where?" That's how familiar I was with the military. 10 months after meeting he PCSd, I assumed that would be the end of our relationship. After all, there was no way I could make my goals of becoming the youngest CEO by moving around all the time. I stayed in Seattle and he moved to Georgia, then Colorado, then Texas, there was also a 15 month deployment in there too. Regardless of the distance, location, or lack of communication during those early deployments we were dedicated to making things work. After years of long distance, I decided to move once he returned from Afghanistan (or was it Iraq?). This decision was partially due to advice from my boss. I was struggling with how to meet my career goals and manage my personal life. He asked me "Is this your perfect someone? If this is your perfect someone, then GO! You will always be able to find your perfect job". So with that optimism (and naivety) I quit my high-paying, leadership role and moved from Seattle to Colorado. Little did I know that this move to Colorado would also thrust me into the world of SFRG leadership (a volunteer role to help keep the families of your unit informed during deployments). From not knowing what West Point was to holding a full-time volunteer position as the main POC for 120 families was overwhelming to say the least. This move started a years-long struggle to regain my professional footing while supporting my service member. It wasn't until a PCS to Germany that I realized we have to STOP making our military families choose between financial security and service. This PCS forced me to quit my job due to lack of clarity on the Status of Forces Agreement. Since that move in 2013, I've been determined to burn down the SOFA so that an OCONUS move doesn't have to end a spouses career or put families in financial jeopardy.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Sometimes leaders need to listen- as an SFRG leader, it wasn't important that I didn't understand the Org chart of the Army or the in's and out's of deployment. It was important that I listed to scared, frustrated, or confused family members. it wasn't important that I had answers right then, it was important that they felt heard. There was always a fast follow with resources or connections to make sure they had what they needed. Sometimes leaders need to act- The military community can often drown its self in a sea of goodwill making finding resources really challenging. I leverage my experience in the non-profit world to share the most relevant and updated resources. Sometimes leaders need to cheerlead- I've had the ability to share my workforce development best practices in 1:1 mentorship sessions, on pod casts, and in op-eds. Encouraging military spouses to embrace their diverse backgrounds to help them tell a well rounded story about what they bring to the table.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
From stepping in as a new military spouse to the SFRG leadership position, to joining spouses clubs I've had the opportunity to volunteer locally to support new families by providing "welcome to the Army" style workshops and meet and greets to meeting 1:1 to provide career advice. I was fortunate enough to work in the non-profit space creating workforce development programs for military spouses, and ultimately acting as a national advocate for workforce development, specifically as it relates to OCONUS employment. I've been able to represent the military spouse community at the White House, with the Chamber of Commerce, on DoD working groups, and as a board member for several military non profits including the Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce, Secure Families Initiative,, and MOAA. Additionally, I currently offer 1:1 mentorship as well as formal mentorship via ACP.

Describe how you support your community:
I have held workshops, in person and virtually to help military spouses navigate their career while supporting their service member. I've done these in partnership with my local installation, thru MilSpouse Fest, with hiring out heroes, blue star families, Amazon, ACP and more. I've supported every timezone around the globe to ensure equatable access to information. I've taken this challenge to the American Bar Association, who recently passed a resolution encouraging DoD to provide clarity of the SOFA for military families. And I've taken this issue to the Bush Institute as a presidential fellow. I believe in the power of our community, but I also believe in the support of ally's who can help up make change. Additionally I served as the board chair for the military spouse chamber of commerce, an advisory board member for Military Spouse Jobs, and Blue Star Families, a board member for SFI and as a past advisor to MOAA.

What do you advocate for? Why?
Burning down the SOFA. Why? Just because it's hard doesn't mean we shouldn't solve it. The Status of Forces Agreement has been an enigma for decades. The lack of clarity has lead to mis-information or fear mongering when military spouses try to figure out how to maintain employment while OCONUS. The fact that the SOFA doesn't actually mention employment has lead host nation leaders and DoD officials to say "It doesn't say you can work, so you can't" rather than "It doesn't say you can't so let's figure out what we need to do." The nuances of the SOFA being owned by the State Department, implemented by DoD, ratified by the Senate and negotiated between two countries add levels of complexity that have made this a hard rock to move. But it IS movable. I'm not asking to re-do every SOFA out there, I'm asking for clarity, in black and white. We made amendments to allow US vehicles to operate overseas, but we can't do the same to help military families maintain financial security?

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have leveraged organic engagement by sharing SOFA updates on LinkedIn with past post in 2023 reaching 27K, 22K, and 18K all on employment and SOFA updates. Additionally, I have been a guests on pod casts, webinars, and local news all discussing the imperative to solve the military spouse employment challenge. I've leveraged the Bush Institute network to promote my work with the American bar association, and non-profit relationships to help elevate the conversation around SOFA and remove some of the gray area so that military families are armed with accurate information before making an OCONUS decision.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I would finish burning down the SOFA! We are SO CLOSE to removing this barrier by providing clear information for our military families. Once this guidance is out there I would use this platform to make sure it was accessible by DoD officials, employers and families, clear and understandable, and I'd work to empower all military spouses to know that the SOFA should NOT be the thing that ends your career like it was for some many of us before.


Beth Conlin has quietly worked behind the scenes to make positive changes for this community. While many volunteer their time at local charities, Beth used her skills to influence the international laws and policies that negatively impact military spouse employment overseas, paying particular attention to the Status of Forces Agreements. I have interviewed many in our community, but can't overemphasize her tenacity and the work this took to accomplish. She is a force for good and should be honored. Learn more about her work here:
- by Jennifer Barnhill

Beth is working diligently to change SOFA to allow overseas employment for spouses. Her dedication to changing rules so that spouses can maintain employment when they are sent OCONUS is so inspiring. Her determination to military spouse employment advocacy is incredible and I believe this nomination will put more eyes on this very real issue!
- by Katherine Prince