The first woman to lead the Air Force Academy began her tenure on Monday.
Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson is the academy's first female superintendent, and the second ever commander at any of the service academies. This marks at least the second time Johnson broke the glass ceiling at her alma mater, after becoming the first woman to lead a class as cadet wing commander before graduating in 1981.
Johnson, a native of Spencer, Iowa, was also the first Rhodes Scholar from the academy. She went on become a command pilot and logged more than 3,600 hours in cargo planes and tankers. She served as an Air Force aide to presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton from 1992 to 1994 before most recently becoming a deputy chief of staff at NATO headquarters in Belgium.
She recounted to the Daily Oklahoman in Altus, Okla. in 2000 that the elder Bush invited her to spend Christmas with his family one year when her work schedule precluded her from taking time off to celebrate the holiday with her family. Clinton invited Johnson and her family to a Rose Garden dinner for her last day of work at the White House, she said.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz became the first woman to head up a service academy when she took her current position at its New London, Conn. campus in 2011. Johnson is the first woman to command one of the three highest profile academies, along with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy in Annapolis.
From 1989 to 1992, Johnson taught political science at the academy and was also an instructor pilot.
The Oklahoman profile states Johnson was a National Merit Scholar in high school in Iowa and was an all-state athlete in track and basketball.
A change-of-command ceremony was scheduled to take place Monday at the Colorado Springs campus. Johnson replaces Lt. Gen. Michael Gould who served as superintendent since 2009.