Women in Boots 2021

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Vice Admiral (retired) Sandra Stosz

U.S. Coast Guard - Servant, Leader and Author

Vice Admiral (retired) Sandy Stosz started out in the US Coast Guard as an ensign serving aboard polar icebreakers, conducting national security missions from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Her forty-year career was filled with leadership lessons gleaned while breaking ice and breaking glass as the first woman to command an icebreaker on the Great Lakes and to lead a US armed forces service academy. Along the way, Sandy served for 12 years at sea, commanding two ships, and led large Coast Guard organizations during times of crisis and complexity. She finished her career as the first woman assigned as Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, directing one of the Coast Guard’s largest enterprises. She has lectured widely on leadership, and has been featured on CSPAN and other media outlets. In 2012, Newsweek’s “The Daily Beast” named Sandy to their list of 150 Women who Shake the World. She volunteers in leadership roles for several organizations and runs Sandra Stosz, LLC. Sandy enjoys hiking, swimming, birdwatching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family.

Her new book, "Breaking Ice and Breaking Glass: Leading in Unchartered Waters", draws upon her 40 years of extensive experience and wisdom as a woman directing mostly all-male teams in front-line leadership positions to provide tools that will help leaders, particularly those at the middle level, reach their goals and succeed was released on June 1, 2021.


Lieutenant Commader Caroline Johnson

U.S. Naval Reserves

Caroline Johnson graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2009 and became an F/A-18 Super Hornet, Weapons Systems Officer, meaning she communicated, targeted and coordinated all the bomb and missile employments in her aircraft. She was one of two female aviators in her 230-person unit, and one of the only 1.7% women flying fighter jets in the Navy. She deployed in 2014 aboard the USS George HW Bush and saw combat action in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and was the first woman to employ weapons on ISIS in Iraq from her F/A-18. 

Wrapping up her active duty career, Caroline earned her master’s degree and returned to the Naval Academy to teach leadership and run aviation recruitment. 

Caroline’s memoir, JET GIRL, published last year and she was featured on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, MSNBC and she is currently a professional speaker renowned for her remarkable stories, business anecdotes, and relatable personality. Additionally, Caroline is pursuing her MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and is a Leadership Lecturer at University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. 


Lieutenant Commander Katherine (Katie) Pelkey

U.S. Coast Guard

Lieutenant Commander Pelkey first enlisted in the Coast Guard in 2005. After completing recruit training she was assigned as a non-rate to Small Boat Station St. Ignace in Michigan. After selection and commissioning from Officer Candidate School in 2007, LCDR Pelkey’s first assignment as an Ensign was on board the Coast Guard Cutter MACKINAW (WLBB-243), an ice breaker-buoy tender homeported in Cheboygan, Michigan. Here she served as a Deck Watch Officer, Supply Officer, and Boarding Officer. After being selected for flight school in 2010, she moved to Milton, Florida, and began training at Naval Flight School. Upon earning her “Wings of Gold” in 2012, she was assigned to Air Station Traverse City in Michigan where she stood duty as a search and rescue pilot in the Great Lakes. Committed to increasing her aviation expertise, she transferred to Aviation Training Center (ATC) in Mobile, Alabama in 2017 and began instructing pilots across the fleet. While serving at ATC, she also coordinated hurricane support from the ground and flew several rescue missions during Hurricane Harvey. This fall she begins pursuing her Masters in Business Administration as a full-time student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Originally from Michigan, she enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her husband, a fellow service member, and their seven-year-old daughter.