Trailblazing Black Navy Veteran Michelle Howard Appointed To Biden's Transition Team At The Department Of Defense
Howard was the first Black woman to command a U.S. Navy ship.
November 13, 2020 at 4:16 pm
Coming off of his 2020 election victory, President-elect Joe Biden is already off to a strong start.
The soon-to-be commander-in-chief, who named a Black Yale professor to his Coronavirus Task Force earlier this week, has also appointed a Black retired admiral to the Department of Defense.
According to the Washington Times, Biden's new appointee, Michelle Howard, already has a proven track record as the first Black woman to command a U.S. Navy ship and the first woman to achieve a four-star rank in the Navy. She previously served as vice chief of naval operations and commander of naval forces in Europe and Africa, The Washington Post reported.
Retired Adm. Michelle Howard, the first African-American woman to command a US Navy ship and the first woman to become a 4-star admiral, has been appointed to the incoming Biden Administration's transition team to the Department of Defense. She joins about 20 others-mostly women. pic.twitter.com/vIixHKg6jz
— Mike Glenn (@mrglenn) November 10, 2020
The trailblazer will be one of about 20 members who makes up the Pentagon's Agency Review Team, which reviews operations in the Department of Defense to ensure a smooth transfer of power. Kathy Hicks, director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, leads the team.
According to the Foundation For Women Warriors, Howard was one of seven Black women in a class of 1,363 students when she entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1982, the Navy commander obtained a master's degree in military arts and sciences from the United States Army's Command and General Staff College in 1998.
The admiral led a rescue operation in the Indian Ocean in 2009, helping save captain Richard Phillips after he was held hostage by Somali Pirates. Howard retired from the Navy in 2017 after 35 years of service. She then started working as a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, according to the Association of Defense Communities. The professor focused her lectures on cybersecurity and international policy.
In 2019, Howard was appointed to IBM's Board of Directors.
"Admiral Howard is a groundbreaking leader with a distinguished career in military service. Her leadership skills, international perspective and extensive experience with cybersecurity and information technology will make her a great addition to the IBM board," Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement last year.
The 59-year-old has accumulated accolades throughout her career, including honorary degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, American Public University and North Carolina State University, the NAACP Chairman's Image Award, the French Legion of Honor and the KPMG Inspire Greatness Award.
As Blavity previously reported, Biden made another groundbreaking move on Monday when he appointed Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a longtime Black medical professional, as one of three co-chairs to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everyone is affected by this pandemic, yet the burden is disproportionate,” Nunez-Smith said. "We know communities of color are grieving at high rates and are facing substantial economic impact. The transition advisory board is setting a course for everyone in our country to experience recovery.”
The president-elect made diversity a focal point throughout his campaign. In addition to choosing Kamala Harris, who became the first Black woman and the first Asian American on a major party's presidential ticket, Biden appointed numerous other people from various backgrounds to his team. Almost half of the former vice president's full-time staffers on the campaign were people of color, CNN reported.
"The growth in our diversity numbers reflects that commitment and is another great example of the vice president demonstrating his values through his actions," Michael Leach, chief people diversity and inclusion officer for the Biden campaign, said. "As our campaign continues to grow and as we round out the final months of the general election, diversity, equity, and inclusion will continue to be at the forefront of our inclusive growth philosophy and strategy."