U.S. Navy's first female four-star admiral is keynote speaker for Cornell's Veterans Day observance

November 7, 2014 by Mark H. Anbinder

Admiral Michelle Howard, the first woman promoted to the rank of four-star Admiral in the United States Navy, will be the keynote speaker next week at Cornell University's Veterans Day observance. Admiral Howard also holds the highest rank ever of any African-American woman in the U.S. military.

Admiral Michelle Howard is speaking at Cornell next week. Photo courtesy of USN.Admiral Michelle Howard is speaking at Cornell next week. Photo courtesy of USN.Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus pinned a fourth star on Admiral Howard's uniform in Washington, D.C. on July 1st, and she assumed the role of Vice Chief of Naval Operations. It made her part of the smallest club in the military -- she is one of just three women of four-star rank, along with General Janet Wolfenbarger of the U.S. Air Force and General Ann Dunwoody of the U.S. Army.

General Dunwoody, promoted to the four-star rank of General in 2008 as she was named commander of the Army Materiel Command, was the first member of the club. "I grew up in a family that didn’t know what glass ceilings were," Dunwoody said at her promotion ceremony. General Wolfenbarger, promoted less than four years later, had been a member of the Air Force Academy's first co-ed class.

Admiral Howard, who is also the first woman to serve as VCNO, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982, and was the first black woman to command a USN ship. She took command of USS Rushmore, a dock landing ship, in 1999. In between, she commanded Amphibious Squadron 7 and Expeditionary Strike Group 2, and was the Deputy CNO for Operations, Plans, and Strategy at the Pentagon before the U.S. Senate confirmed her new post. She was in command of the task force that was responsible for freeing cargo ship captain Richard Phillips after pirates attacked his ship and captured him.

The Admiral's keynote address will be from 10:00-11:30am next Tuesday, November 11th, in the Anabel Taylor Hall Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Department of Inclusion & Workforce Diversity, Navy ROTC, Women of Color Colleague Network Group, and Veterans Colleague Network Group.

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