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A ground-breaking leader during her 35-year career in the U.S. Navy, Michelle Howard was the first woman to achieve the rank of four-star admiral and the first woman to be appointed to the position of vice chief of naval operations (the second highest rank in the Navy). She was also the first African-American woman to reach the rank of three-star and four stars in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and the first African-American woman to command a ship in the Navy. A veteran of operations that included NATO peacekeeping, Indonesia tsunami relief, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, she was thrust into the international spotlight in 2009 as leader of the counter-piracy task force that rescued civilian Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates. The rescue was later depicted in the film Captain Phillips. Admiral Howard is currently a visiting professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, focusing on the cyber domain and associated issues in strategy and policy. The appointment is the capstone of a distinguished career in national defense within the areas of operations, readiness, and strategic planning.


  • How the military builds leadership skills 
  • Why the Navy wants you to get a technical degree in something like Math, Physics or Chemistry or to learn languages
  • Why 75-80% of Navy Captains eligible for 1-star will have secured a Master’s Degree
  • How women are well integrated into the US Navy as fighter pilots, cryptologists, fleet commanders among many other roles (including Admirals)
  • Why testifying before Congress was her least favorite part of being an Admiral 
  • What the best advice Admiral Howard’s mother gave her when she was 12 years old
  • Why you should watch the movie Captain Phillips w/ Tom Hanks to get a window into a real hostage taking involving Somali pirates that Admiral Howard successfully mediated
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