Air Force Academy gets first female superintendent


Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson (right) accepts the guidon from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III on Aug. 12, 2013, during the superintendent change of command cermony at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Johnson is the academy’s 19th superintendent. (Photo by Mike Kaplan, U.S. Air Force)

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson made history yesterday when she became the first female superintendent of the Air Force Academy in Colorado.

In her remarks at the Aug. 12 change of command ceremony, Johnson said the academy must continue to adapt to keep up with current developments and challenges.

“I have a lot of listening to do, a lot of learning to do, to understand how things are now to better help us go forward together,” said Johnson, the academy’s 19th superintendent. “I also know we’ll inevitably face challenges. It won’t be easy, but we can find meaning in adversity, and there are lessons from overcoming negative experiences and to grow stronger through them.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, who presided over the ceremony, asked Johnson to strive to earn the trust of the academy’s airmen and cadets.

“These are the future leaders of our Air Force and the remarkable staff and faculty who prepare them for that role,” he said. “I need you to lead them. I need you to inspire them. I need you to take care of them — and I absolutely know that you’re the right person for this job.”

Johnson was previously deputy chief of staff of operations and intelligence at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe for NATO. She succeeds Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, who will retire Oct. 1 after 37 years in the Air Force.

Johnson was a distinguished graduate of the academy in 1981, and its first female cadet wing commander. She played varsity basketball throughout her academy career, and is still the second-highest scorer in the Air Force.


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