Admiral Michelle Howard, the highest-ranking woman in the United States Navy, will speak at Stonehill College’s Pettit Atrium in the Shields Science Center on Wednesday, September 30th at 9:30 a.m. The first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, USS Rushmore (LSD 47), Howard went on to become the first female 4-star admiral and Vice Chief of Naval Operations in July of 2014.
"Michelle's many trailblazing accomplishments in her 32 years of naval service are evidence of both her fortitude and commitment to excellence and integrity," said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations during Howard’s oath of office ceremony.
Prior to becoming the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, she served as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy.
A 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colo., she graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army's Command and General Staff College in 1998, with a Master’s in Military Arts and Sciences.
Howard's initial sea tours were aboard USS Hunley (AS 31) and USS Lexington (AVT 16). While serving on board Lexington, she received the Secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins award for outstanding leadership. She reported to USS Mount Hood (AE 29) as chief engineer in 1990 and served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She assumed duties as first lieutenant on board USS Flint (AE 32) in July of 1992.
In January of 1996, she became the executive officer of USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and deployed to the Adriatic in support of Operation Joint Endeavor, a peacekeeping effort in the former Republic of Yugoslavia.
She took command of USS Rushmore (LSD 47) on March 12, 1999, becoming the first African-American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. Howard went on to command Amphibious Squadron Seven from May 2004 to September 2005 where she deployed with Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5 in support of operations including tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia and maritime security operations in the North Arabian Gulf.
She commanded Expeditionary Strike Group Two from April 2009 to July 2010. It was during that time that she successfully managed the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, who was captured by pirates on board the Maersk Alabama. The event was the subject of the 2013 feature film Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks.
Howard is the recipient of the 2008 Women of Color Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Career Achievement Award, the 2009 Dominion Power Strong Men and Women Excellence in Leadership Award, the 2011 USO Military Woman of the Year Award, and the 2013 "Chairman's Award" from the 44th NAACP Image Awards.