|Years at Ellis:||Grade 2 to Grade 12 |
United States Navy, Information Warfare Officer
B.A. International Service, The American University; M.A. Security Policy Studies, The George Washington University; M.A. Political Science, The George Washington University; M.A. National Security Studies, The Naval War College
What is your role in your current position with the United States Navy?
As a Navy Reserve officer, I am assigned to the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA), where I work as a trade analyst. We analyze and evaluate dual-use and munitions-export license requests to ensure that end-users comply with overarching Office of Secretary of Defense policies. In addition, I am currently on long-term, active-duty orders at NATO’s Supreme Allied Command Transformation (SACT). I am responsible for coordinating NATO’s maritime command and control posture with SHAPE, England’s Maritime Command, NATO Centers of Excellence, and internally within SACT.
Why did you decide to pursue a military career?
I started my civilian career as an intelligence officer with the Department of Defense. I decided to join the U.S. Navy Reserve to continue in this line of work. The opportunities have been endless as I have served in increasingly responsible positions, including Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and Chief Staff Officer. The Navy Reserve has afforded me great flexibility to work either full-time or part-time based on various milestones. I have had the opportunity to work at multiple Naval and Joint Commands both in the continental United States and overseas. I have been mobilized twice and was recently deployed to Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where I served as the Director of Intelligence for a 1,000+ person task force. I have supported numerous exercises overseas (for example, in Guam and South Korea), gone to sea aboard several Norfolk-based carriers, and studied full time at the Naval War College for a year.
As a woman in a male-dominated field, how do you ensure that your voice is heard and respected?
I take care to ensure that my opinions are based on well-researched facts and an understanding of the situation at hand. I try to lead by taking account of multiple opinions while ensuring that mission accomplishment and taking care of sailors are never compromised. Thoughtful comments and opinions are valued by all as well as unsurpassed initiative. Women have advanced in my field based on their expertise, political savvy, and operational vision.
Did your time at Ellis influence your career path at all?
My years at Ellis instilled a sense that I could pursue whatever career avenue that I was interested in. Ellis gave me the academic tools to succeed and the confidence to excel. I will always remember Mrs. Calloman, who challenged us every day while we studied history, politics, and social studies. My interest in international relations and languages was peaked at Ellis and my subsequent assignments have required a thorough knowledge of both.
Is there a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
The pinnacle of my career to date was my recent one-year deployment to Joint Task Force (JTF) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as the Director of Intelligence. I had over 180 U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, civilians, and contractors supporting me. I was responsible for managing several contracts totaling over $11 million and providing intelligence support for tactical force protection as well as strategic analysis regarding the law-of-armed conflict detainees on the island. This lengthy deployment proved extremely challenging as I was one of a handful of O-6 (Colonel/Captain) officers assigned to the JTF. Personally, I hated to miss my daughter’s entire junior year of high school. However, the professional rewards and lasting professional relationships are life-enduring.
What lessons has your work life taught you?
The necessity to work hard and put forth your best effort, as your reputation follows you. Do not burn bridges. Lead by example. The most important thing is to take care of your people so that they are part of the team, contributing to their fullest, and meeting the requirements of the operational mission. I have learned the importance of flexibility in terms of assignments, tour locations, and personal interaction. Follow-up and feedback are keys to success so that we are always learning, improving, and fine-tuning processes.
When do you feel empowered and how do you empower other women in your life?
I feel empowered in my profession and in my personal life. I try to empower other women by treating them the way that I would like to be treated. I share key professional and personal milestones with them, hoping that they will also aspire to excel. We need to be role models for young women to follow.
For Ellis students reading this: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
Take advantage of all the opportunities that Ellis offers and continue that approach as you continue your academic and professional pursuits. Embrace the unfamiliar and continue learning throughout your career. Treat your superiors, peers, and subordinates with ultimate respect and dignity, valuing their differences and abilities. Also, having the support and respect of your family is vital for success.
What do you think are the advantages to Ellis’ all-girls environment?
Ellis empowers young women to challenge themselves academically and personally. An all-girls environment encourages girls to work in a collegial environment without worry about or competition with men. The years at Ellis lead to shared experiences and friendships that last throughout your life. Academics at Ellis encourage respect, commitment, community involvement, and maximum participation.
If you could interview anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Amelia Earhart for her courage, valor, and ability to excel in a “man’s world.”
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Committed. Hard-working. Loving.