NAVIFOR Celebrates Women’s History Month 2023
28 March 2023
SUFFOLK, Va. --
Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) joins the Navy in celebrating Women’s History Month throughout the month of March.
The observance month event was held at the Hall of Heroes at the Suffolk DoD Complex March 24. Established by Public Law 100-9, the observance Women’s History Month, during the month of March, was created to recognize women’s contributions and achievements throughout the history of the United States, highlighting the 2023 theme “Women Who Tell Our Stories,” a tribute to women’s history and the many stories they share in our Navy.
NAVIFOR is unique as the command triad consists of an all-women leadership team. Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach is the only women Navy type commander. FORCE Master Chief Laura Nunley who is the only current women FORCE Master Chief in the Navy, and Ms. Elizabeth Nashold, who is the first women deputy commander of NAVIFOR. They have nearly a century of active duty and federal service between them.
Ms. Elizabeth Nashold opened the event with opening remarks on the contributions of women in the Navy.
This month, as the history and legacy of women are celebrated across the Navy, Department of Defense, and our nation, I can’t help but personally reflect on how the inclusion of women has made us more capable, more competitive, and more effective. If you look around the room today, we have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years of experiences – centuries of legacies,” said Nashold. “Women – active, reserve, and civilian – are critical to every single mission, everything we do, around the globe. We don’t have to look too far to see how women, time and again, have chosen to serve and how their inclusion has made us sharper, bolder, and better.”
Nashold reflected on how more than 20 percent of the Navy's active force now are women, serving in all capacities to defend the maritime domain, enhance the lethality, and deter strategic competitors. The Navy has fifty-six thousand talented women who serve as Navy civilians. Navy history is full of trailblazing pioneers who paved the way for more than 138,000 women – active, reserve, and civilian – serving in the Navy today.
The Navy has more women leaders in service than ever before. Twenty-two female admirals and 1,580 female master chiefs and senior chief petty officers lead from the front. More than thirty percent of the Department of the Navy's civilian leadership in the senior executive service are women. Every rank is open to women serving in nearly every Navy community, from the seafloor to the stars.
Force Master Chief Laura Nunley introduced the events guest speaker Master Chief Courtney Barber who is not only one of the Navy’s senior enlisted women but also an accomplished Navy life coach, three time published author, civilian life purpose coach, host of a iHeart radio show and 2022 humanitarian award winner.
“She is a polished professional and still relatable and approachable, which is what I love about her,” said Nunley. “No one meets Master Chief Barber without walking away leaving a better person. Her story is our story.”
Barber, the Navy Personnel Command, Senior Enlisted Leader, reflected on the adversities she faced from enlisting in the Navy and working as a young airman to now being a Master Chief, the highest enlisted rank in the Navy.
“When you walk in your purpose every day, full of authenticity, full of realness, confidence, passion, respect, humble arrogance, grace, and strength, it will NEVER matter what people think of you,” said Barber. “It will NEVER matter the conversations that are being had behind your back. What WILL matter is the attention and energy you waste worrying about it and how you allow it to control you.”
Barber shared invaluable words with everyone in attendance.
“Your struggles and your setbacks were done on purpose. And they are the stepping stones that are going to propel you to where you are supposed to be in life,” said Barber. “All you must do is change your mindset. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change. It is up to you to embrace all that you have endured and learned throughout your life so that you can use your story, your testimony to share with others who are looking for motivation, inspiration, and encouragement. Your story to share is important.”
Vice Adm. Aeschbach closed the ceremony with a recount of her story of attending George Washington University and accepting her commission as an intelligence officer in the Navy.
“Everybody has a story and you need to share your story. You need to look for opportunities to mentor and sponsor because without even realizing it you are inspiring someone every single day,” said Aeschbach. “Share your story because this is a really critical time for us and you want to keep inspiring people to do what we do and follow behind us.”
The event also included over 50 women who are both active duty and civilian from Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC), Fleet Cyber Command (FCC), and Naval Network Warfare Command (NAVNETWARCOM) staff. The women were recognized for their experiences and their impact during their military and/or civilian careers.
Information warfare is a wide-ranging community that includes communications, networks, intelligence, oceanography, meteorology, cryptology, electronic warfare, cyberspace operations, and space experts, among many others.
NAVIFOR’s mission is to generate, directly and through our leadership of the IW Enterprise, agile and technically superior manned, trained, equipped, and certified combat-ready IW forces to ensure our Navy will decisively DETER, COMPETE, and WIN.
For more information on NAVIFOR, visit the command Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NavalInformationForces/
or the public web page at https://www.navifor.usff.navy.mil