Meet the Women Driving Exchange Logistics
In the Exchange’s Logistics Directorate, three women in key leadership roles are a driving force in the traditionally male-dominated field of military logistics.
Karen Stack, executive vice president & chief logistics officer; COL Karen Bond, deputy director and Morgan Meeks, director of transportation, represent a diverse change of command and ensure women at the Exchange see Logistics as a rewarding career path.
Stack, Bond and Meeks lead the Exchange’s robust Logistics network, which includes 11 worldwide distribution centers and the 10th largest retail private fleet in the U.S. The team makes sure the Exchange’s 2,700 facilities across the U.S. and 36 countries have what they need to take care of our Nation’s warfighters. From war zones in the Middle East, to training exercises in Eastern Europe to recovery efforts from 2017’s three devastating hurricanes, their team has moved much-needed goods to the front lines.
Women today know they can do whatever they want, accomplish whatever they want.
— Executive Vice President & Chief Logistics Officer Karen Stack
Stack: Set goals, take off
Industrywide, men hold between 70 percent and 80 percent of jobs in the supply chain, and only 5 percent of top-level supply chain positions in Fortune 500 companies are held by women. At the Exchange, Stack, Bond and Meeks’ success stories demonstrate strength. Together, they highlight how diversity in the workplace benefits us all.
Stack, who has worked for the Exchange since 1976, has led Logistics for the past five years. Throughout her storied career, she has experienced fundamental changes as more women joined the workforce.
Increased diversity and more women in leadership roles are the two biggest changes she’s seen during her time in the workforce.
Her role in ensuring Soldiers and Airmen have the goods and supplies they need is deeply personal. Her father served in the Army, in the swamps of Vietnam during the war.
“He never had dry boots or socks,” Stack said. “I told myself, ‘I’m going to work for AAFES and get dry socks to Soldiers and Airmen no matter where they are in the world.’ ”
Stack has done exactly that. She leads a team of more than 2,000 associates responsible for making sure supplies—like socks—reach troops no matter where they serve. Though the field is traditionally male-dominated, she doesn’t see herself as a pioneer. Women don’t experience the same pitfalls in advancement that were present years ago, she said.
“Women today know they can do whatever they want, accomplish whatever they want.” Stack said. “They set their goals and take off.”
No matter what role associates play at the Exchange, finding ways to improve should be top of mind, Stack said.
“Always differentiate yourself,” Stack said. “Up your game. Just doing a great job is status quo now.”
For Stack, her role leading Team LG has been the most rewarding.
“This team has accomplished so much,” Stack said.
Don’t allow the flawed biases or misperceptions of others to determine what your goals are going to be and what you are capable of achieving,
— Logistics Deputy Director COL Karen Bond
COL Bond: Push on, change perceptions
Throughout her 27-year military career, Bond has overcome challenges of working in transportation in male-dominated Army (only 13 percent of Soldiers are women). Besides gender and race, Bond says she had to fight biases based on education early on in her career as an officer.
“One of the first things I was asked frequently was, ‘Where did you go to school?’ I always thought that was an interesting question,” Bond said. “I was a black female who graduated from a university that wasn’t well-known (Jackson State University in Mississippi). That automatically put me in a different bucket. They assumed I shouldn’t be assigned to premier assignments or represent the command in different aspects.”
Bond considers herself a trailblazer for women in logistics roles and the Army.
“Don’t allow the flawed biases or misperceptions of others to determine what your goals are going to be and what you are capable of achieving,” Bond said. “Some people give up because it is hard. Find a good mentor. Someone you can talk to and help you through difficult times.”
Prove you know what you’re talking about and earn respect so you become a valuable team member.
— Director of Transportation Morgan Meeks
Meeks: Really sell yourself
For Meeks, her childhood passion for transportation has come alive at the Exchange, where she’s spent her entire career. Her father owned a small business that had several trucks, igniting an interest in how goods moved.
She started as a college trainee in 2001 at the Dan Daniel Distribution Center, and her career has steadily progressed, including implementing a transportation management system and managing the Waco Distribution Center before leading more than 300 associates as the director of transportation.
Along the way, she has faced her share of challenges, but has not backed down.
“Get your voice heard,” Meeks said. “Prove you know what you’re talking about and earn respect so you become a valuable team member.”
Meeks guides young women at Texas Christian University. She advises them to develop a strong work-life balance at the start of their careers.
“You have to find balance,” Meeks said. “I’m all work, then family loses out. If I’m all family, then work loses out. It’s hard to find balance if you don’t start early.”
Someone to lean on
No matter associates’ roles at the Exchange, Stack, Bond and Meeks all recommend finding a trusted mentor.
“Lean on your mentors,” said Meeks, who includes Stack among those who have given her advice during her career. “Sometimes, I run across things I just haven’t experienced in life. They can help you set your goals and stick to your guns.”