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August 1, 2009

SWAN – Service Women’s Action Network

SWAN is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that works to improve the welfare of current U.S. servicewomen and to assist all women veterans.

SWAN offers personal support and guidance from fellow women veterans, provides legal and counseling services from military law experts and caseworkers, recommends sound policy reform to government officials, and educates the public about servicewomen’s issues through various media outlets.

Women make up 15 percent of today’s armed forces. Almost 200,000 women have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, with tens of thousands deployed or stationed elsewhere around the globe. Women are the second fastest growing population of veterans, but the nation has provided few tangible services for them. Many women veterans receive inferior treatment at hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or are marginalized by veterans service organizations.

SWAN was originally established in 2006 primarily as a support network by and for women veterans who returned home from military service without the resources or support to heal their wounds. SWAN helped these veterans recover from trauma incurred during military service, and transition successfully back to civilian life.

SWAN has since become an organization that serves all military women and women veterans, regardless of era, experience, or time in service. SWAN develops the leadership skills of women veterans, with the understanding that voices of women veterans must be included at the core of the national discussion on military and veterans’



Executive Director: Anuradha K. Bhagwati
Anu is one of SWAN’s original members. She is a Marine Corps veteran who left the service at the rank of Captain in 2004. Anu has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Yale University and a Masters of Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government, where she focused on international human rights policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Anu founded and teaches a free weekly yoga class to veterans in New York City. She is also a writer. Anu has spoken to countless audiences on the challenges faced by women in the military, including Military Sexual Trauma, discrimination in the workplace, and the VA health care and benefits system. Her goal is to establish SWAN as the leading organization devoted to meeting the needs of American servicewomen and veterans, as well as one of the most innovative human rights non-governmental organizations serving women today.

Associate Director: Jen Hogg
Jen is one of SWAN’s original members. In 2000, she enlisted in the New York Army National Guard, and left the service in 2005 with the rank of Sergeant. She has spoken about gender and sexuality within the military to multiple audiences, and has been featured in print, web and video. Jen has developed leadership experience at every level of her work and brings a strong sense of fairness and drive for justice to SWAN. Jen received her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with a minor in Women’s Studies from the City University of New York – Hunter in 2009 and is attending the City University of New York Law School in the fall.

Media Director: Julianne H. Sohn
Jules is a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq as a Public Affairs Officer. She left the Marines as a Captain in 2008. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Anthropology from the University of California – Los Angeles and a Master’s of Science in Journalism from the Columbia University School of Journalism. Julianne is now a police officer, and served as a Public Information Officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. She has extensive public affairs and journalism experience, and numerous professional media contacts in both the Pentagon and the major civilian news networks. Julianne is a polished advocate and speaker. She has spoken to numerous audiences around the nation about the negative consequences of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy on both troop welfare and national security.

Strategic Communications Specialist: Marti Ribeiro
Marti is a prior Air Force combat correspondent who has deployed with the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps. A former military brat who considers the world her home, she spent eight years on active duty as a military journalist and public affairs professional. She finished her enlistment in 2006 at the rank of Staff Sergeant, after combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. She earned a Combat Action Badge for returning fire under fire during her tour to Afghanistan. Marti earned her undergraduate degree in marketing from the New York Institute of Technology. Marti is now a public relations professional working for a consulting firm in Oklahoma City, and is finishing her Masters of Business Administration through Oklahoma City University.

Financial Director: Kehontas Rowe
Kehontas was born in Louisville, Kentucky. She served in the Navy from 2000-2005 and in the Army National Guard from 2006-2008, achieving the rank of Sergeant. She was given an honorable discharge from the National Guard under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Since then, Kehontas has worked with several community organizations dedicated to fostering social justice and change. She was an Electoral Organizer for Kentucky Jobs with Justice and is the co-creator of Solidifying Her Evolution, a social justice performance project. She also served as Administrative Coordinator for the Fairness Campaign, and was a Counselor at the Arts and Activism Camp for youth aged 13-18. Kehontas has worked as an Apple technical support Agent and Manager, and is an Apple certified trainer. She has also studied Computer Networking Systems at ITT Technical Institute and is a member of the National Technical Honor Society.

Legal Adviser: Rachel F. Natelson
Rachel is an attorney who founded and directs the Veterans and Servicemembers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City. She has provided pro bono outreach, advice, and representation to numerous claimants before the Department of Veterans Affairs and the military Discharge Review Boards and Boards for Correction of Military Records. Rachel also conducts community education and legislative advocacy in support of veterans and servicemembers. Experienced in family law, Rachel has worked with underserved populations in New York City for years, including the homeless, children and the elderly. Rachel graduated magna cum laude from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History, and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her law degree from the New York University School of Law.

Please see website and Facebook page for more information about SWAN’s work.  And they really do have a lot to work on!

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