Skydiving Leadership for Women

Rhythm Foundation is Skydiving Leadership for Women is holding their first women’s leadership course May 7th-15th at Paraclete XP in Raeford, NC. The course is a series of programs designed to increase the number of women who skydive as well as put them into leadership roles and competition. The foundation was developed by Christy Fricken and Janette Lefkowitz who recognized the small percentage of women in skydiving and leadership roles in the skydiving community. Currently, 13% of USPA members are women. Last year only 10.9% of new A licenses were held by women.  The women of Rhythm are committed to making a big change. These roles include competitive teams, instructors and load organizing to name a few. Each camp is designed specifically for each individuals based on the goals that they wish to attain. This is a very labor intensive course held over 8 days with one rest day in between. Over 75 people applied to the program. The course will include:

  • Canopy Flight Course with Maxine Tate from Flight 1
  • Coaching in small to medium sized formations with video
  • Tunnel time; time varying for each participant. This will be one on one as well as in groups
  • In depth instruction on gear
  • Seminars of various topics including event planning, organizing, and coaching
  • Development of short term and long term goals

In return for being chosen for this course, each participant is expected to give back by participating within different committees’ prior to, during and after the camp. This includes:

  • Communications – Create a mechanism for the women in this camp to meet beforehand, during and after.  The group is responsible for broadcasting announcements and creating/distributing necessary agendas and schedules.
  • Media – Develop a logo, t-shirt design, Write articles, shoot videos, take photos, broadcast and publicize the event.
  • Travel logistics – Help the participants find accommodations, coordinate local travel with each other, organize food options where appropriate, help people find their way around.
  • Seminar development -Finalize the topics with various mentors, find locations, make sure materials and time required for each seminar are sorted.

Not only is the expectation to assist during the conference, we are expected to give back in Logistics and Foundation Participation.  This includes being a part of the National Rhythm Women’s Leadership Network as well as participating in the DZ roadshow, where you travel to drop zones around your area to coach, organize, and teach a basic curriculum including topics on rigging, canopy stuff, body flight, skydiving, and safety issues.

Cindy and husband Ed posing for Valentine's day weekend

Photo credit Diane Nelson


Applying for Rhythms Skydiving Leadership for Women

When I applied for the Women’s Leadership Conference that was led by Rhythms’ female team of Janette Lefkowitz and Christy Fricken, I kind of thought that I would be someone who would totally be able to rock it. After, I put in the paperwork and didn’t hear anything I began to have my doubts. I was then granted an interview and felt that this didn’t go as well as I had wanted it to. My doubts definitely got worse after the interview, and some of my dear friends were notified that they were accepted. I then played the waiting game.

After about a week, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. All of the people that had applied that I had put on the recommendations list all had gotten in. It made me begin to think…”what is wrong with me?”  “Why aren’t I a part of this very cool adventure?”  After some thoughtful meditation, I had decided that maybe the man upstairs has another plan for me and maybe, just maybe, I was meant to be somewhere else.  But….I had to know….what could I do better next time. So, I put a note out to Janette Lefkowitz just to see what I could do next time to make myself more marketable? I mean, I am a coach, I am and IAD/AFF instructor. I do some organizing for Club Jump IN! Sebastian and I am starting to blog. I don’t have a ton of jumps…but sit at almost 1500, and I have about 8 hours in the tunnel – what could I do to make it so they would say – “she needs to be here at this conference.”  Janette was just so thoughtful and reminded me that not all of the slots were taken and to be patient.


And so the waiting game began again. Overall I can be patient, but the waiting process was just brutal. Mostly I think because of the self-doubt from the voice inside of my head — you didn’t get there this time…..but there is next year and maybe you truly are meant to be somewhere else.   I was so happy for my friends who had gotten in – I knew this would be just a truly amazing experience for them – and in a way I was proud of them. I had started jumping with some of these ladies, some of them, I was their instructor or their coach – and there is nothing like watching one of inexperienced jumpers to do great things in the skydiving community

In the end I did end up with a slot for the conference. I am so excited to be a part of this adventure and feel honored to be there….but really I am so excited for the people I have seen grow and stretch and push their boundaries, those who put themselves out on a limb and have succeeded.


Number one this has taught me… patient, you don’t always have the full picture of what is going on. Evidently they had a huge response to a conference that was designed to empower women in skydiving –more than they expected. Number two…things don’t always work out the way you expect them but keep an open mind…because you never know how things will turn out.

Skydive Radio interviewed JaNette Lefkowitz, Karen Woolem (K-dub) and myself for an episode to let the skydiving community know about what we were up to which aired this week to discuss the foundation and the conference : Skydiving Radio’s Podcast Skydiving Leadership for women starts 1:07.

So stay tuned for my future adventures!


Rhythms Skydiving Leadership for Women


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