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Diversity

Women's History Month: Cmdr. Elizabeth Sanabia, Cmdr. Tracie Severson, Lt. Cmdr. Rachael Gosnell, and Lt. Cmdr. Kelly Welsh

Navy leaders and pioneers

"From the Revolutionary War to current conflicts, women have played a crucial role in the security of our nation and the success of the U.S. Navy. Join us as we celebrate Women's History Month by profiling women leaders and pioneers across the Navy."

This is a graphic of Cdr, Sanabia.

Commander Elizabeth Sanabia is currently serving as a Permanent Military Professor at the United States Naval Academy.

Q: Why did you decide to join/serve the Navy?

A: I joined the military to serve my country. I chose the Navy because I thought flying a jet off of a carrier would probably be the coolest thing ever. At the Naval Academy I figured out I liked parachuting out of planes more than I liked flying them, and I was fortunate to spend the first 6 years of my career as a Special Operations officer.

I stayed in the Navy because of the people. I have always found it very rewarding to watch my people excel - no matter whether they were earning warfare qualifications, reenlisting, making Chief, or screening for Department Head, XO, or command. To simultaneously execute the mission at hand while positively impacting the lives of Sailors and young officers is a challenge I really enjoy.

Q: Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you?

A: I have learned a great deal from many exceptional leaders and am particularly grateful for the time and mentorship of these 11 (listed at the rank and command where I met them):

Major Nicholson (USNA), LCDR Scholley (CNSL), CDR Titley (7th Fleet), CAPT Easton (PORT ROYAL) CAPT Allard (BATAAN), CAPT Yerger (BATAAN); Chief Black (USNA), Master Diver Dennis (GRASP), Chief Duffy (GRASP), Chief Okoniewski (BATAAN), and Dr. Harr (NPS).

Q: Please tell us a story about someone, perhaps in your family or otherwise, who has influenced you or challenged you to become more than you ever thought you might.

A: My children - without a doubt. They provide continuous motivation to give my best effort, to pursue opportunities and tackle challenges, to find the good in others and in myself, to learn from mistakes, to love life, and to keep a sense of humor. I'm tremendously grateful for the support of my entire family.
This is a photo collage of Cdr. Sanabia.

Q: Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why.

A: To me the best jobs in the Navy are at the tip of the spear and at commands where there is an opportunity to make a relevant impact. Diving to retrieve aircraft from the sea floor, driving a ship through the Suez Canal and during flight ops in the northern Arabian Gulf, deploying ocean sensors from a C-130 in the middle of a hurricane, and teaching midshipmen at the Naval Academy have been among my favorites. The best people in the Navy are the ones who are doing those challenging jobs with you, day in and day out.

Q: What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

A: Be competent. Take care of your people. Listen to your Chief. Lead by example.