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Women's History Month: Civilians

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."

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Ms. Lisa St. Andre, SES is currently serving as the director of business operations/comptroller, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

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

A: Since my childhood, I have always had a deep-seeded respect for the United States Navy. On my father's side, my uncle was a Navy pilot and was killed in Vietnam while aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN 65). I never met him growing up, but I knew of him and always respected the fact that he gave his life while serving in the Navy.

My opportunity to serve as a civilian came while I was at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine where I could actually see from my dorm room P-3s doing touch-and-goes at the nearby air station. My roommate found a job in the career bulletin for a Navy comptroller financial management intern program. I was majoring in math and Spanish at the time so the thought of numbers and finance for the Navy sounded interesting enough to me that I applied to the program and the rest is history.

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

A: My parents definitely contributed, providing me the moral framework of honesty and integrity, as well as my college professors who pushed me toward this interesting career opportunity in Washington D.C. One of my first assignments was located at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) in Washington D.C. The comptroller at the time taught me a lot about the job that I still use today. During a tour at the Pentagon, I had two great mentors who were just phenomenal. One of those mentors was an aviation fighter pilot and he challenged me in ways that made me realize how much I love the Navy mission. Another mentor pushed me to continue seeking higher education, which led me to apply for the Secretary of the Navy's (SECNAV) Civilian Fellowship Program in Financial Management and allowed me to attend graduate school full-time at American University. Lastly, the senior leadership I had while working at the Navy's Office of Budget (FMB) really helped mold me into who I am today.

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

A: My mentors encouraged me to push myself into uncomfortable settings in order to rise to the occasion. Their leadership has influenced me today to challenge my team into those types of opportunities or situations so they too can shine.

I was also greatly influenced by my mother who passed away seven years ago from lung cancer and lost her battle within six weeks of being diagnosed. That was something I really didn't think I could get through, but I did and I'm stronger for it today which is something that will stay with me forever.

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

A: My five years at the FMBE office in the Pentagon, which is the appropriations liaison for the Department of the Navy, is one of the most memorable assignments because of the team I worked with. I was one of the only civilians alongside ten military officers from across the Navy. It was so exciting to work so closely with Congress, supporting SECNAV, as well as the chief of naval operations and the commandant of the Marine Corps. To contribute to the Navy mission at that level was really exciting for me.

During that assignment, I was able to participate in a congressional staff delegation on a carrier embark, which made me love the Navy even more. It was incredible to see a Navy ship the size of a small American city operating so safely and precisely in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Also, being from Boston, the fact that it was the USS John F Kennedy (CV 67) made it very special to me.

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

A:It is a phenomenal honor first and foremost, but it's really about people. The Navy is a huge family, making people the most important asset that we have. Building strong teams with integrity is really the key and I'm so excited to be in this position and be able to do that here at Navy Medicine.