WIMOs celebrates six years of female representation in maritime

Written by Heather Ervin
WIMOs celebrates six years of women in maritime operations

In 2017, Kasey Eckstein and Jenna Gaudet started doing business together in maritime operations. In doing so, they realized the need for an organization that catered towards female professionals in maritime operations, thus leading to the formation of Women in Maritime Operations (WIMOs). 

Founded by Eckstein, a former Marine Log Top Women in Maritime honoree, and co-founded by Gaudet in New Orleans, La.—a prime location due to the tight knit maritime community and the city’s relative size. Initially, WIMOs was an intimate environment. But within a few months, the organization continued to gain support from women in the industry and local maritime companies. Before the end of the year, WIMOs held regular meetings with 30-plus attendees.  

Kasey Eckstein

Within a year of forming, women living in other regions started reaching out to Eckstein and Gaudet about joining WIMOs. At this point, the founders realized that WIMOs needed to expand from a local to a national organization. At that time, Eckstein, who now runs Eckstein Trade & Transport to help recruit women into maritime positions, was in sales traveling nonstop. To determine the optimal locations and leadership teams for additional chapters, she made a point to meet with female leaders in maritime operations in each city she visited. She knew that if new WIMOs chapters were to become successful then a strong, local “champion” would need to be established.  

To meet the growing interest, the organization restructured in January 2019 resulting in the WIMOs National Board and the Southern Louisiana Chapter. Its second chapter, the West Kentucky Chapter, formed in Paducah, Ky., in April 2019. The third chapter, the Houston Chapter, formed in Houston, Texas, in November 2019. The Houston chapter is now the largest WIMOs chapter, with over 275 members. Several other chapters would soon follow across the country.

WIMOs Today

Today, WIMOs has expanded across 26 states and reached more than 850 members from over 250 companies. In April, Taylor Dickerson was named the new association president.

Dickerson serves as the vice president of the project management office for Kirby Corporation, where she is responsible for managing the portfolio of executive level projects in environmental sustainability, technology advancement and innovation, mergers and acquisitions, corporate strategy, process improvement and efficiency, analytics, and more.

She started her career in the maritime industry in 2008 (15+ years experience) with Kirby and has served in many roles within logistics, sales, operations, maintenance, safety, finance, and most recently, special projects.

Her professional passions include adding value through innovation and efficiency, creating unique strategic solutions, and empowering and mentoring women. She currently is a volunteer mentor for the WIMOs Mentorship Program, as well as serves on the selection committee.

“The last year has been our greatest year yet with close to 100% growth in membership now approaching 900 members that represent over 250+ companies,” says Dickerson. “I could not be prouder of this organization and the amazing impact we are having throughout the maritime industry. We have more interest, support and engagement than ever with seven new seed chapters throughout the country, one of which who will become an official chapter with the election of their regional board by months end. Thank you to all of the women and sponsors that have made our organization’s work possible, without you we could not achieve our mission of Educating, Elevating and Engaging women in the maritime industry. Happy sixth birthday to WIMOs, may we continue to grow and prosper into year seven and beyond. Stay tuned for big announcements and great things to come!”

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