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Women's History Month: U.S. Navy Women Trailblazers

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."



RADM Fran McKee
First female URL officer

RADM McKee was born in Florence, Alabama, and graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in chemistry. She received a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University. She attended the Naval War College and served in a variety of stateside assignments, including instructor at naval schools command, mobilization and classification officer at Naval Air Reserve Training Command and officer-in-charge of the Naval Women Officers School.

RADM McKee joined the Navy in 1950 and was commanding officer of the Naval Security Group Command at Fort Meade when she was promoted to Rear Admiral. She was then transferred to Pensacola, Florida, to head management of all levels of military education programs, from NJROTC units in high schools to the Navy Postgraduate School.

CAPT Roberta Hazard
First woman to command a training command

Roberta Hazard graduated from the National War College in 1978. She was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Military and Training Division, and was responsible for developing policy and career opportunities for female officers and enlisted personnel. Roberta Hazard became commanding officer of the Naval Technical Center at Treasure Island in San Francisco in 1980. Her major command tour was as Commanding Officer of the Naval Training Station, San Diego. She was selected for flag rank in December 1984 and served as Commander of the Navy's largest training facility, the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Illinois, from 1985 to 1986. Rear Admiral Hazard became the Director for Manpower and Personnel, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1987. She was selected for promotion to Rear Admiral Upper Half in May, 1988.

LCDR Kathryn Sullivan, USNR
First female Navy astronaut

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan was one of the first six women selected to join the NASA astronaut corps in 1978 and holds the distinction of being the first American woman to walk in space. She flew on three shuttle missions during her 15-year tenure, including the mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Sullivan has also served on the National Science Board (2004-2010) and as an oceanographer in the U.S. Navy Reserve (1988-2006). She holds a bachelor's degree in earth sciences from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a doctorate in geology from Dalhousie University in Canada. Dr. Kathryn Sullivan was confirmed by the Senate as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator on March 6, 2014, having served as Acting NOAA Administrator since February 28, 2013.

CAPT Marsha Evans
First female to command a Naval Station

Ms. Marsha Johnson Evans, also known as Marty, U.S. Navy (Retired) served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of The American Red Cross from August 2002 to December 2005. Rear Admiral Evans served as Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy and Superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, from 1995 to 1998 and headed the Navy's worldwide recruiting organization from 1993 to 1995. She served with the United States Navy for 30 years, where she was commissioned as an ensign in 1968 and attained the rank of rear admiral before retiring in 1998. She served as National Executive Director of Girl Scouts of The United States of America from January 1998 to July 2002. She has been honored with numerous awards and accolades throughout her career. She was a White House Fellow from 1979 to 1980. The White House Fellows Association awarded her the 2002 John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award. In 2005 The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute honored her with the Four Freedoms Award. Rear Admiral Evans received a B.A. in Law and Diplomacy from Occidental College and a Master's Degree in International Security at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

LCDR Darlene Iskra
First woman to command a ship

"I hadn't realized what a big deal being the first woman to command a ship would be until I arrived in Naples, and on my desk was a stack of congratulatory cards and letters from people I didn't even know! I also got a few cards from people I hadn't heard from in literally decades! Soon afterward, the public affairs officer from Naples asked to do an interview. That was the one that was published soon after I took command, to news outlets all over the world, even in Saudi Arabia, which freaked my husband out, as even back then we were worried about terrorism. About three weeks after I took command, Desert Storm started in the Gulf and we were ordered underway toward the Suez Canal to intervene in case the Canal was mined or otherwise blocked. We picked up an [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] team in La Maddalena, Sardinia, and headed to an area on the Mediterranean side of the canal, where we stayed for the entire duration of the war. No mines were laid, though we did have several interesting incidents, but those are stories for another day."

She holds an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, Newport, R.I., and an MA and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Maryland. Today, she writes books about women in military service.