In honor of Women’s History Month, On Your Guard recognizes some female leaders we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing over the last few years:
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Elizabeth Evans, Commander, 53rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Florida Army National Guard
LTC Evans graduated from West Point looking forward to an engineering career in the Army. Unfortunately, she found out many of the engineering battalions were restricted to men, with women allowed to serve only in support roles.
Her best chance to achieve her goal of commanding a combat or construction Unit was in the Army reserve components, which offered construction formations that were 100% open to women.
She joined the Florida Army National Guard, inspired by its dual mission of serving the Nation and responding to local emergencies, like extreme weather events. Within 6 months, she was asked to command a Horizontal Construction Company.
By 2017, she had led 300 missions in a combat zone in Iraq and served as a task force commander for a counter-narcotics mission, training military components in three Central American countries.
“I think I’m extremely fortunate to be a female in the Army National Guard because of the opportunities I have to be a role model to others, both male and female,” she says. “I have the ability to show younger Soldiers coming in that anything is possible regardless of your gender.”
Sergeant First Class (SFC) Shereka Danzy, Drill Sergeant and Recruiter, New Jersey Army National Guard
As the first woman to become a drill sergeant in the New Jersey Army National Guard, SFC Shereka Danzy knows her position embodies more than just the average job.
“You’re representing women, one, and that’s a big deal, then I’m representing myself and my support team – everyone that was behind me,” she says.
The Army veteran teaches Soldiers at the Recruit Sustainment Program how to march and about military customs, courtesies, and acronyms to get them ready for basic training.
SFC Danzy, who’s also a Guard recruiter, felt honored to be asked to become a drill sergeant by her command.
“They could have chosen anybody, but they saw something in me.”
That something, she believes, is her “passion for soldiering. Grabbing Soldiers under your wing. Teaching them right from wrong, not only teaching them, but showing them what right looks like.”
Cadet (CDT) Christina Meredith, Florida Army National Guard
CDT Christina Meredith is living her best life as a Florida Army National Guard Soldier, author, and non-profit founder.
After years of abuse as a child, she entered the foster care system and then became homeless. Eventually, she was “discovered” by a pageant recruiter and crowned Miss California United States in 2013. She finally had a platform to accomplish one of her goals: to share her story so others would realize they could overcome their circumstances.
Since then, CDT Meredith has written a memoir, “CinderGirl: My Journey Out of the Ashes to a Life of Hope,” and started The Christina Meredith Foundation, a non-profit organization that advocates for foster care reform and mental health.
The flexibility of serving in the Guard part-time allows her enough time for everything important in her life.
“I have my civilian job and still have that military experience and leadership, and I can really bring something to my country,” says CDT Meredith.
If you’re interested in joining these leaders, find out more about what the Guard has to offer, including great education benefits and training in careers ranging from admin and relations to intelligence to aviation. Check out the job board for more information on available careers, and contact a local recruiter to learn more.