Freedom Learning Group's President
A collaboration between two organizations ensures that the scientific and technical expertise of military spouses is fully deployed.
In our appreciation for active military service personnel, the sacrifices made by their families — including military spouses with advanced degrees putting their own careers on hold — are sometimes overlooked. A partnership between Freedom Learning Group LLC (FLG) and the Society of Military Spouses in STEM (SMSS) aims to fully utilize the talents of these men and women in technical fields.
CEO Nathan Ecelbarger, a former police officer and U.S. Marine Corps reservist currently deployed to Stuttgart, Germany, co-founded FLG in 2016 with his wife, Stacey. She serves as president and has a keen appreciation for the challenges facing military families. “When we arrived overseas, I realized that highly qualified military spouses were getting jobs at the coffee shop on base just to fill a gap on their resume,” recounts Stacey. She remembers thinking, “This is not right. These underemployed attorneys, engineers and scientists should be able to utilize their expertise even while stationed overseas.”
As an adjunct professor in law enforcement, Nathan was introduced to the use of educational content experts by college textbook publishers like Pearson and McGraw-Hill. “Subject matter experts are a lifeline to publishers. Compared to full-time tenured professors (with many competing priorities), military spouses are more motivated, more committed to quality work and always meet deadlines,” reports Nathan, who says those nomadic specialists are not just looking for employment, but for continued professional credibility. “A Ph.D. in civil engineering doesn’t want to work as a barista, but as an engineer,” he says, yet notes the transient nature of military life and language barriers overseas make that challenging. “Through contract work with FLG they can use their training to develop the educational standards for their own industry,” explains Nathan.
“The need for reliable, qualified subject matter expertise is continuously increasing across the educational publishing industries,” says Stacey, adding, “Military spouses are extremely efficient, team-oriented and intrinsically do things right the first time.” Her husband, who explains that FLG trains content providers to write like educators, quips, “Having to navigate their way through the military bureaucracy as part of their lifestyle, military spouses are already, by definition, project managers and educators.”
“We’re thrilled to partner with SMSS, as our missions closely align and we share a common goal to empower and support military spouses,” explains Stacey, whose company also has affiliations with organizations representing specialties like law and healthcare. “By providing high-quality, affordable services to our clients, we look forward to employing more science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals, keeping them working in their chosen fields from any location on the globe,” she says.
Nonprofit SMSS was founded in 2016 by military spouses determined to maintain their careers despite the challenges presented by the military lifestyle. “We’re delighted to partner with a company that understands the needs for remote employment in STEM, and also has personal knowledge of what veterans and military spouses face,” says SMSS co-founder and Director of Outreach Michelle Aikman, who is herself a chemical engineer.
“We’ve been really fortunate to employ almost 100 military spouses,” says Stacey. She reports her company’s first military spouse hire, an unemployed engineer stationed in Germany, has since been promoted to FLG’s Senior Project Director developing educational content for the world’s biggest publishers while managing editorial teams of military spouses just like her.