70 – Martha McSally: First Female Combat Pilot & Combat Squadron Commander

mcsally_s640x427Colonel (retired) Martha McSally is a pioneer and leader. She was the first woman in U.S. history to command a Fighter Squadron in combat, earning the Bronze Star and 6 air medals for her combat leadership and 325 combat hours in the single-seat A-10 “Warthog.” Under her command, the 354th Fighter Squadron earned the prestigious 2006 Air Force Association’s David C. Shilling Award for the most outstanding contribution in the field of flight. Martha uses her unique life and leadership experiences to impart listeners with the tools needed to reach their goals, become better leaders and inspire their teams.

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Throughout her military career, Martha was recognized as a change agent and a transformational and entrepreneurial leader. She retired as a Colonel after 22 years active duty, where she was promoted four years ahead of her peers for her leadership performance and potential. As a Major, Martha was selected as only 1 of 7 active duty officers to be a Legislative Fellow, serving as a defense and foreign affairs advisor to U.S. Senator Jon Kyl. She was also handpicked for the leadership team tasked to stand up U.S. Africa Command—responsible for all U.S. security operations and activities in Africa–from scratch with limited resources, manpower, facilities and an impossible timeline for assumption of missions. After retirement, Colonel (ret) McSally was selected as a leader to transform the George C. Marshall Center into a more efficient, effective organization while also serving as a Professor of National Security Studies. Her innovative and inspiring efforts impacted hundreds of senior government leaders from all over the world.

Colonel McSally’s leadership success did not come easy. Her father died suddenly when she was 12 years old, putting her on a course in life formed and shaped by the tragedy and its defining perspectives. In between heart attacks, he told Martha to make him proud. As the youngest of five kids in a middle class family, she set out to carry on his legacy, make a difference, and live every day as a gift.

Colonel (ret) McSally is a pioneering leader who happens to be a woman. She achieved in an extremely male dominated field where the stakes are high and lives are on the line. She has led men and women into combat and earned trust and respect from subordinates, peers, and superiors. Martha is incredibly effective speaking to predominantly male audiences as that is her life experience. She also has a passion to be a role model and inspire young girls and women to achieve their dreams and leadership potential.

Check out Martha’s Website: marthamcsally.com