She’s currently the only Black woman leading a state military. Here’s how it happened

Brigadier Gen. Janeen Birckhead is currently the only Black woman leading a state military, having been appointed as adjutant general by Maryland Governor, Wes Moore.

Getting to the top: Birckhead received an ROTC scholarship at Hampton University, which led her into a military career.
* She served Governor Moore’s predecessor, former Gov. Larry Hogan, on his staff.
* Birckhead was appointed the task force commander for over 14,000 soldiers guarding the U.S. Capitol following the attack on Jan. 6, 2021.
* She was also tasked with leading the security mission of the Maryland National Guard for President Biden’s inauguration, and later led the country’s first operational vaccine equity task force.

Promoting representation: Birckhead is drawing inspiration from Major General Linda Singh, the first woman and African American to command the Maryland National Guard.
* Despite her pride in her achievements, Birckhead expressed concern over the ongoing need for “firsts” within the military.

Facing challenges: Birckhead has experienced the common misunderstanding that she is not the leader due to her race and gender.
* As the leader in her role, she is striving to ensure a good working environment and the right placement of soldiers in their respective roles.
* She is also focusing on expanding recruitment efforts to diversify National Guard.

In her words: Governor Moore said “The Adjutant General is the leader of Maryland’s Military, and I am very confident in Janeen’s ability to do just that — lead. Her record proves her readiness to serve at the highest-ranking military position in the state of Maryland.”

View original article on NPR

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