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    Representation matters



    Courtesy Story

    U.S. Coast Guard District 17

    When a “first” is celebrated, some people argue against highlighting these milestone events. When Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak announced the first fully female HC-130J Super Hercules aircrew, there were detractors who said there is nothing to celebrate about someone doing their job.

    What they fail to appreciate is that representation matters; children seeing someone who reminds them of themselves in a unique position makes them believe they can someday accomplish those feats themselves.

    Watching Vice President Kamala Harris receive her Vice President nomination was an historic moment that I will never forget. My nine-year-old daughter was glued to the TV. She clung to every word as the first elected female Vice President urged children everywhere to dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see themselves in a way that others may not, simply because they’ve never seen it before, and to know they will be applauded every step of the way.

    Seven months later, I watched as Admiral Linda Fagan was promoted to Vice Commandant as the first female four-star admiral in the Coast Guard.

    These trailblazing women are showing our service members, and the nation, that there are no bounds to what can be achieved. These firsts are worth celebrating because, for many of us in the military, we came into service at a time when those firsts were not possible.

    The first women were just graduating from the Armed Forces Service Academies when I was born. Those trailblazers suffered through a culture that was overwhelmingly against their successes and yet they rose to the occasion, shattering glass ceilings and blazing the trail for future generations of females.

    Instead of telling my daughter that it is possible for a woman to be a civil engineer, a pilot, flight mechanic, environmental engineer, boat captain or firefighter, she can find female role models performing these duties right here at Base Kodiak.

    As I reflect on how I “grew up” in the Coast Guard civil engineering community, where there were very few women in leadership positions to emulate, I witnessed many highly qualified women leaving the service to raise families. Thankfully I have worked for some of the most supportive and caring male leaders and mentors who supported my desire to have a family and further my career.

    My journey in Kodiak began in 2012 when I arrived as the base public works officer. I fell in love with the island and community and when we transferred in 2015, I knew there was so much more that I wanted to achieve here. In 2018, I returned to Base Kodiak as the first female facilities engineer officer, and last month I was appointed as the first female executive officer at Base Kodiak. I am honored to be trusted with this leadership position and treat my role as a mentor and role model for the future generations of Coast Guard women and men as one of my most important jobs.

    One of the best parts about working at Base Kodiak is the high caliber of professional women and men who serve alongside me. Base Kodiak has a strong cadre of leaders setting the example and is focused on fostering a culture of opportunity, respect, and equality for all. Base Kodiak is fortunate to have numerous strong women leaders at all ranks and specialties. I am privileged to share the profiles of some of these women below.

    -U.S. Coast Guard story by Cmdr. Jess Johnson



    Date Taken: 07.16.2021
    Date Posted: 07.16.2021 16:48
    Story ID: 401103
    Location: KODIAK, AK, US 

    Web Views: 53
    Downloads: 0