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Women's History Month: Rear Admiral Janet Donovan and Captain Stacy Pedrozo

Navy leaders and pioneers

This is a graphic of Capt Pedrozo.

Captain Stacy Pedrozo is currently serving Staff Judge Advocate at United States Pacific Command.

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

A: During law school I was clerking for the Attorney General of Virginia in their Environmental Enforcement Division. Approximately 2/3 of the attorneys in the Division were all former judge advocates from different military services. In the course of my clerkship, they all discussed their great experiences in the military and each of them expressed regret that they left military service. Both my law school roommate and I became intrigued with the idea of serving our country as lawyers so we linked up with the local recruiter to find out more about the program. He took us from Richmond to the Norfolk area where we toured ships, Oceana Naval Air Station, and Little Creek Amphibious Base. Although we did not speak with any lawyers, we were so impressed with the operators and platforms that both my roommate and I applied within days of the tour and were commissioned during our last year of law school.

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

A: All of my role models and mentors have been the officers and Sailors who were my colleagues during multiple operational tours. I first went to sea on a lawyer at sea program onboard the USS MISSOURI out of Long Beach, California. The CO rotated me through the various departments so I was able to familiarize myself with the mission of the ship and the jobs of all of the Sailors. I was able to get my OOD qualifications, stand watch, and observe a Broadside with the 16 inch guns. Beginning my career as a judge advocate by going to sea on an extremely capable and historic platform shaped my view of the role of judge advocates in our military - our primary purpose and focus is to support the warfighters as capable and involved naval officers, and not just as lawyers. Throughout my career, I received extremely helpful advice and mentorship from senior enlisted advisors and during my operational tours, from my Strike Group Operations Officer, our CAG, and senior Commanders on multiple flag staffs. These senior leaders have shaped my views on the value of empowering and trusting subordinates and on the importance of a common vision and understanding of the mission.

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: A person who was a tremendous role model for me was my mother - she was the first person in her family with the privilege of going to college. She inspired me by her superior academic credentials, hard work, and by constantly supporting me in the choices that I made. She remains one of the brightest and kindest people that I know. She continues to support me and my own family although the military has taken me, my husband and our children far away from her and the rest of our family. She and my sister are both career teachers and the hours and sacrifices they have made to educate young children are amazing. Their efforts are an inspiration to me and for others who know them.

When I first came into the Navy, women were not allowed on combatants - the only reason I went to sea on the MISSOURI was because the placement officers apparently did not know that I was female from the spelling of my name. Although it was a surprise when I showed up at the ship, the CO welcomed me and treated me exactly the same as the rest of the crew. As the first female judge advocate for a West Coast Strike Group, my experience was very similar - all three of my Strike Group Commanders and all of the warfare commanders treated me exactly like the rest of the staff - tasking me, including me, and trusting my advice. That has been my overwhelming experience during my entire career in the Navy. I hope that my daughter has the privilege and reward of being held to the same high standards as her male peers.

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

A: My most memorable tours were my operational tours at CSG-3, Pacific Fleet, JTF-519, and USPACOM. Each of those tours was exceptionally rewarding since my colleagues were warfighters from various communities and services who were all working toward a common operational mission. Operational staffs bring a level of substantive challenge which is extremely rewarding - in operational jobs you truly feel like you are contributing to the national security of our country by providing legal advice to the warfighters which will help them accomplish their military objectives. The other job which was extremely memorable was my 3-year tour as the Commanding Officer of Naval Justice School. I had the privilege of commanding a joint sea service school of outstanding Marine, Coast Guard, and Navy instructors. We were fortunate to have students from all military services, including thousands of operators, as well as lawyers and paralegals. I thoroughly enjoyed the leadership challenges of teaching and mentoring young Marines fresh out of boot camp; challenging new judge advocates to learn about the military and how to become naval officers; and developing a legal curriculum that would assist operators, judge advocates, and paralegals become more operationally focused in the way they viewed and handled their legal issues.

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

A: Being a leader who serves our Nation is a privilege which carries great responsibility and accountability. I believe that leaders have a responsibility, first and foremost, to their warfighting mission and to ensuring that their people are focused on that mission. Leaders also have the responsibility to take care of their people, which involves mentoring, training, empowering, and supporting them in the execution of their mission. We have a grave responsibility to contribute to the security of our nation during a time of increasingly challenging and asymmetric threats. We must remain vigilant, innovative, and resilient. We are the most capable and disciplined armed force in the world and we must maintain that preeminence.