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    Our Voices, Our Coast Guard- CDR Leah Cole

    Our Voices, Our Coast Guard

    Photo By Patrick Ferraris | Cdr. Leah Cole at the PACAREA/Base Alameda waterfront, February 2021. (U.S. Coast...... read more read more



    Story by Patrick Ferraris 

    U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters   

    March is Women’s History Month. This observance stands as a reminder of the strength that the Coast Guard has gained through the contributions and efforts of our female members who serve as part of an exceptional and diverse workforce. This series of interviews highlights just a few of the remarkable women in the Coast Guard and the stories behind their service.

    Name: Cdr. Leah Cole
    Duty Title: Response Operations Planner
    Duty Location: Coast Guard Pacific Area (PACAREA), Alameda, CA.

    What inspired you to join the Coast Guard?

    The educational opportunity to attend the Coast Guard Academy inspired me to join the Service. What inspired me to stay, however, is decidedly more important; the remarkable people and unique mission sets of our organization. My friends, my husband (and now two children) and many of my life’s most defining experiences, adventures, opportunities and challenges were all met in some way, through the Coast Guard.

    What is meaningful to you about currently serving in the Coast Guard?

    Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. Bringing value, representation, voice, and perspective in addition to our Coast Guard training and experience is a powerful and special asset.

    Has joining the Coast Guard helped shape your identity as a person?

    The Coast Guard has shaped my adult life in countless ways. One way is through a unique combination of perseverance and patience. I didn’t always have these traits. I learned them, many times over through my Coast Guard experiences. When you’ve done truly challenging things before, the next time you come upon a challenge, you see it with a different heart. This has given me both the courage and self-assurance to know that I can keep going no matter the obstacle, as well as to support others to do the same.

    What does the phrase “Stronger Together” mean to you?

    To me, “Stronger Together” is the resultant effect of true inclusion. Period.

    Do you have a mentor that has inspired you or impacted your Service?

    I have many mentors and they take different forms. I have mentors specific to my afloat and career path goals, mentors specific to their leadership traits that align closely to my desired leadership style and goals for my best self, and mentors specific to being a mother while also a service member. The most special of them is when all three of these forms align- I affectionately call those my “Beyoncé’s.”

    The Coast Guard has a history of strong female members. How have those members helped pave a path for you in the Coast Guard?

    We stand on the shoulders of now three generations of servicewomen in the Coast Guard and SPARS (USCG Women’s Reserve), and two generations of Officer Candidate School and Academy graduates, as well as sea-going billets for women. These women ensured enduring change with determination towards cultural shifts and policy updates within the Service. Their efforts provided me with a STEM education, opportunity to compete for all assignments, guaranteed paid maternity leave, and the ability to return, full force. It makes me so proud to have cutters like the STRATTON and McSHAN as they demonstrate the capabilities in both name and action that bring credit to our service, while representing their amazing contributions by name.

    What excites you about the future for women in the Coast Guard?

    Recent political, social, cultural, and pandemic impacts and realities in the US have collided and brought visibility to issues that have long impacted women. Along with this, these impacts have led to an openness to discuss topics within the Coast Guard like retention, diversity, and inclusion. It makes it so there is an operational imperative that we modernize, adapt, and invest in our workforce so we can continually transform the experiences and representation of women and other underrepresented groups in the Coast Guard.


    Date Taken: 03.23.2021
    Date Posted: 03.23.2021 15:10
    Story ID: 392101
    Location: US

    Web Views: 432
    Downloads: 0