Women We Love 2022: Shawn Skelly

Photo by Megan Evans

Shawn Skelly

As a teenager, Shawn Skelly was fascinated with aviation. Her mentors were naval aviators, and she soon realized that she, too, could pursue a career in the field. “I have not forgotten how critical mentorship was to the pursuit of my dream,” she tells GO. Armed with a drive to be in service to others, Skelly applied for a Navy ROTC scholarship. She went on to serve on active duty as a Naval Flight Officer in the U.S. Navy and retired as Commander after 20 years. In 2021, Skelly was confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, making her the second openly transgender person confirmed as a federal official. She is also the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Skelly is mindful of the responsibility that comes with representing the LGBTQ+ community in such a public role, and is touched when people share how her living as a proud trans woman has impacted their lives. “It serves as the most meaningful reminder possible of why representation and visibility matter,” she says. “We are not alone in our journeys and believing that helps lift us all to where we rightfully belong in our society.” The most rewarding aspect of her work, Skelly says, is “that I am able to bring my full, authentic self to the performance of my sworn duties, my relationship to the team I’m honored to lead, and the people and organizations I work with.” –LC

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