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NEWS | March 9, 2024

Navy's Top Officer Emphasizes Importance of Investing in Women

By Natasha Anthony (NAVFAC Washington) and Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications

WASHINGTON - Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Lisa Franchetti joined a distinguished gathering of military and civilian leaders to commemorate International Women's Day, March 8. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) were honored to host the panel discussion, bringing together trailblazers and advocates committed to the International Women’s Day theme, “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress.”

Franchetti, a trailblazer herself as the first woman to serve as CNO and the first woman to be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided a perspective that resonated with the audience. She shared her personal journey, the challenging assignments she completed, and the fulfillment of leading teams as she rose through the ranks of the U.S. Navy. Her message was centered on work-life balance, integration and the warfighting effectiveness in great leaders, great people and great teams.

"We are the ‘they.’ It really doesn't matter what level you're at. You're part of the ‘they’ in your own organization. So, own the culture, create places where people can bring their best to the table every single day and contribute,” said Franchetti. “We’ve got to keep that accelerator down because the adversaries are going after our strength. And our strength is our people. And that's what we need to focus on.”

On the panel were Naval District Washington Commandant, Rear Adm. Nancy Lacore; Assistant Deputy CNO, Plans, and Strategy, Rear Adm. Heidi Berg; Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy, Management, E. Anne Sandel; and Navy Installations Command Executive Director, Timothy Bridges.

“We have important work to do throughout the enterprise to improve readiness generation and, that includes investing in our people,” said Vice Adm. James Downey, commander, NAVSEA. “This will be a primary focus for us on this larger Navy team here as we align to meet the Secretary and the CNO strategic priorities to maintain maritime dominance and deliver Americans warfighting capabilities.” 

As the event concluded, Rear Adm. Dean VanderLey, commander of NAVFAC, issued a powerful challenge to the participants. He urged them to harness the energy and inspiration from the shared stories to propel the Navy, and ultimately the nation, toward a brighter and more inclusive future. "In the words of our CNO, we need all the players on the field, and it's crucial to recognize that a significant number of our most talented and valuable players are women," VanderLey emphasized.

International Women's Day beckons a rallying cry that resounds through the ages. The United Nations’ theme to "Invest in women: Accelerate progress," is an anthem of cause that summons the need to unite, in unwavering solidarity, for women today.