The Navy’s First Female 4-Star Admiral

Admiral Michelle HowardLet me tell you about Michelle Howard.
Man is she one Tough Cookie!

Last month, she became the US Navy’s first ever woman to be promoted to four-star admiral, not to mention Vice Chief of Naval Operations, the second highest position in the Navy.

But Michelle was already making waves and setting records before this latest promotion. In 1999, she became the first African American woman to command a Naval ship, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore. She was also the first African American woman in any branch of the military to reach three stars.

And remember that little film with Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips? Yeah, that was based on a true story. And Michelle Howard here was the commander of that very Counter-Piracy Taskforce and spearheaded the rescue of Captain Phillips from Somali pirates… three days into taking the job!

So it goes without saying that Michelle is a huge advocate for diversity and progress. And she’s become a living expert on how to engender creativity and innovation from within a large, two-century old organization. As she told Forbes in an interview,

It’s the willingness to commit to look hard at yourself and commit to a new way of doing business. There’s great ideas out there–it’s having the courage to go ask people about what they’re doing that’s different, and saying, ‘I wonder how I could apply that to my organization.’”

So how about you? Do you have the courage to step up and make a difference, and help give a voice to others who are doing something different and innovative?

Because that’s what makes you a truly Tough Cookie, just like Michelle Howard.

Source: Forbes

Female Marines Kick Some Infantry Training Ass

Female US Marines on InstagramOn Nov. 9th, this photo was posted on the Instagram account of US Marine Corps Pfc. Harlee “Rambo” Bradford, with the caption “And then there was four.”

Bradford, along with Pfcs. Katie Gorz, Julia Carroll and Christina Fuentes Montenegro, will be the first female Marines to successfully complete the Corps’ enlisted infantry training course, the grueling test of physical and mental strength previously only offered to men.

Imagine 59 days of live ammunition exercises and sleeping outside in fighting positions, ending with an exhausting 12-and-a-half-mile hike while weighed down with a 90-pound combat load that you must complete in less than five hours.

The test was opened to women for the first time this fall in order to help determine which ground combat jobs will be open to women by 2016. Of the 12 women who entered, 3 of these 4 women completed the program alongside 221 men, and will be followed closely by their 4th, Harlee Bradford, who was injured during training but is expected to complete the program soon as well.

First Female US Marines Infantry Grads

Once these women have completed Infantry Training Battalion (ITB), they will not actually then receive the 0311 MOS (Military Occupation Specialty code for infantry riflemen) or join Marine infantry units. After graduation, they will instead head to their originally slated MOS schools.

But regardless, history was still made by their incredible display of endurance and strength – and that shall never be forgotten.

Tough Cookies unite! Ooh-rah!

La Femme Pierson – The U.S. Secret Service’s First Woman Director

Julia Pierson is New Secret Service DirectorToday we saw the ultimate heroine story of a true Tough Cookie – one of the toughest Cookies I’ve seen yet. Today, President Obama made history by appointing veteran U.S. Secret Service official Julia A. Pierson as the first female director in the agency’s 148-year history.

Pretty amazing right? Plus, Pierson is picking up the reins of this top national law enforcement institution just a year after a prostitution scandal nearly tarred its reputation and exposed the underbelly of its very male-dominated culture. So she’s got her work cut out for her.

As Barbara Riggs, former first female deputy director to the agency in 2004, put it,

“I think that because [the scandal] is still out there in the public’s mind and also in the press, yeah, she will have to deal with what’s remaining from it.”

But Pierson had already served as chief of staff to the outgoing director, Mark Sullivan, for the past five years. And she’s spent some 30 years in the agency working her way up through the ranks and earning her stripes. So I’d say she pretty well prepared, and more than up to the task.

As President Obama said in his own statement,

“Julia is eminently qualified to lead the agency that not only safeguards Americans at major events and secures our financial system, but also protects our leaders and our first families, including my own.”

And boy does it! Pierson is taking the helm of an agency with a $1.5 billion budget, that employs 3,500 agents and 1,400 uniformed officers, operates 142 domestic and 23 international investigative field offices, and in 2011 alone, provided protection to U.S. dignitaries on more than 5,600 domestic and nearly 400 international trips. That’s quite an enormous ship she’s got to captain, and a whole heck of a lot of power in the hands of one woman.

But I’m ever confident that she’ll master this role, and implement some much needed discipline and improvements – including a massive technology overhaul she’s been personally overseeing. So finally, this incredibly old boy’s club is getting some serious updating.

Thanks Julia Pierson for making it happen, and paving the way for women the world over! That’s one Tough Cookie!

Source: The Washington Post