Martha McSally

Colonel Martha E. McSally is a barrier-breaking, combat-proven, results-driven leader who makes a lasting difference wherever she serves. With deep experience in strategic planning and execution of complex operations, risk and crisis management, policy development, and communications, she is known for making things happen and solving difficult problems with integrity and grit. Her unique expertise spans a 26-year military career as a fighter pilot and officer, a professor of national security studies, and six years in the U.S. House and Senate. McSally is a widely respected voice on national, international, and homeland security issues. She held high-level clearances for decades and worked with multiple international partners on global and regional operations. In Congress, McSally was recognized as a thoughtful, highly effective, and bipartisan workhorse on defense, healthcare, energy, tax reform, immigration, cybersecurity, and veterans' issues.

As a U.S. Senator, McSally sought common ground across the aisle to solve problems, tying for the most bills signed into law. Her committee assignments--Armed Services; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Energy and Natural Resources (Chair of the Water and Power Subcommittee); Indian Affairs; and Aging--deepened her expertise on major issues facing our country and private sector. Her leadership was vital to swiftly delivering economic relief to businesses and families during COVID-19, passing the historic USMCA trade agreement, and incentivizing the return of key manufacturing from China. She courageously shared her story as a sexual assault survivor and led legislative efforts to combat sexual assault and harassment in the military. In the House, McSally served on Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, chaired the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee, and was ranked the ninth most effective Member of Congress. Elected Vice-Chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, she spearheaded multiple bipartisan initiatives and was a vital leader on tax and healthcare policy reforms to spur economic growth, job-creation, competition, de-regulation, and opportunity.

The first woman in U.S. history to fly a fighter jet in combat and command a fighter squadron in combat, McSally deployed six times to the Middle East and Afghanistan and earned the Bronze Star and six Air Medals. As a commander, she oversaw $500m in assets and $40m in annual resources. McSally was deployed to Saudi Arabia on 9/11 and became a key leader in planning and executing initial air operations in Afghanistan. As a Colonel, she was hand-picked to stand up U.S. Africa Command, then led oversight of all African continent operations, including counter- terrorism and disaster relief.

McSally holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University's JFK School of Government, a Masters in Strategic Studies from the Air War College where she graduated #1 in her class out of 261 senior military officers, and is a distinguished graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy. She is the author of Dare to Fly--Simple Lessons in Never Giving Up, which inspires any reader to overcome fear and adversity to achieve amazing feats. McSally lives in Tucson, AZ where she enjoys hiking with her rescue Golden Retriever Boomer, running, and paragliding.

Martha McSally
Featured Video

Current: I Dare You To Fly!

Time 02:46

Martha McSally
Featured Keynote Programs

One Person Can Make a Difference

We see many wrong things surrounding us—in the workplace, community, nation and world. Often the challenge seems insurmountable or the opposition too powerful. It seems no one is ready to lead the charge! While serving in the military, Martha took on the Pentagon over a policy she believed was unconstitutional. She fought for almost 8 years, put her promising military career on the line…and won! Martha shares her David vs Goliath story as an example of how one person can make a difference. This presentation will inspire and encourage the audience to stand up for what is right even if they need to stand alone, persevere, and change the world.

Light the Fire In Your Belly!

To what will you give your life?

Many of us dreamed big as children, but those dreams are often supplanted by the demands of adult life, job, family, and other pressures. Yet, we were all designed with a calling and a purpose for our lives. Martha McSally’s father died suddenly when she was 12 years old and she learned at a young age that life is a gift and legacies matter. Martha became the first woman in U.S. history to fly a fighter aircraft in combat and the first to command a fighter squadron. She took on the Pentagon to challenge an unconstitutional policy…and won! Using her life experiences, humor, and perspectives she has gained through unique journeys, Martha’s presentation will inspire others to find their calling and purpose, persevere through adversity, and act on the fire in their belly to make a difference.

One Team, One Fight—Using Fighter Pilot Principles For Your Winning Team.

Success in a single-seat fighter aircraft on a combat mission does not happen by accident. It is the result of hard training, preparation, dedication, and teamwork. The mindset and ingredients for success in these high-precision, high-stakes missions are also applicable to other teams with different missions. In this presentation, Martha identifies key principles for success as a fighter pilot that are transferable to your organization: preparation, teamwork, mutual support, overcoming fear, commitment to excellence, debriefing/after action, etc. She uses real world examples from flying and leading in training and combat missions and uses humor and insight to convey how they can lead to success in your organization.

Leadership Lessons from Command and Combat

Martha McSally was the first woman in U.S. history to command a Fighter Squadron. She is a decorated war hero with 325 combat hours, a Bronze Star, and 6 Air Medals. Under her command, the 354th Fighter Squadron won the 2005 Air Force Association Shilling Award for the best contribution to defense in the field of flight. Martha knows how to lead a team in training and combat, and those leadership lessons can be used in your business or organization. Martha shares stories and perspectives from her military leadership experiences to highlight the importance of core values, vision, setting the leadership “climate” for your organization, integrity, teamwork, honest feedback, measuring success, and taking care of your people. These leadership principles are vital for success of any leader and team in business, non-profit, or other sector of society.

Martha McSally
Featured Book

Dare to Flyby Martha McSally

Dare to Fly

by Martha McSally

"Like the A-10 aircraft she flew in combat, retired colonel and fighter pilot Martha McSally is a gritty individual who loves our Air Force and personified its core values of excellence, integrity, and service before self, while standing up to make it a better institution for everyone who serves. How to be resolute, do the right thing, persevere, find gratitude, and learn compassion are just some of the lessons in her inspirational life story." --Ron FOGLEMAN, General (ret.), U.S. Air Force; former Air Force Chief of Staff

Combining the soulful honesty of Make Your Bed with the inspiring power of You Are a Badass, America's first female combat jet pilot and Arizona Senator Martha McSally shows you how to clear the runway of your life: embrace fear, transform doubt, succeed when you are expected to fail, and soar to great heights in this motivational life guide.

Martha McSally is an extraordinary achiever whose inner strength and personal principles have helped her overcome adversity throughout her life. Initially rejected from Air Force flight school because she was too short, she refused to give up, becoming the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat and the first to command a combat fighter squadron in United States history. During her twenty-six-year military career, she fought to free American servicewomen stationed in the Middle East from restrictions requiring them to don full-body, black abayas and ride in the backs of cars - and won. McSally has continued to serve America, first in the House of Representatives, and now as a U.S. Senator from Arizona.

McSally is also a survivor. She shares how her experiences propelled her to become a fighter for justice in and out of the cockpit. In this powerful, uplifting book, McSally reflects on her successes and failures, shares key principles that have guided her, and reveals invaluable lessons to break barriers, thrive through darkness, and make someone proud in your life. "Courage isn't magic or genetics. It is a choice. By choosing to do things afraid, you discover your own power to overcome."

Filled with fresh stories and insights, Dare to Fly will help each of us find the courage inside to break our barriers, endure turbulence, and keep flying high.

Martha McSally
Featured Review

Martha McSally
Featured Articles & Resources

Colonel Martha McSally and Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin Debate Having Women in Combat

Article from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the ban on women in combat last week. His decision garnered both praise and criticism. American women in...
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