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Lt. General Michelle D. Johnson

2015 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame Honoree:  Lt. General Michelle D. Johnson

“During my over 32 years in the aerospace and defense industry…I can think of no woman more deserving of this honor. From 1981, as the first female Cadet Wing Commander at the Air Force Academy (the senior ranking cadet) and the Academy’s first woman Rhodes Scholar, to today, as the first woman to lead a United States Department of Defense Service Academy, Michelle has left an enduring legacy of positive impact, continuously elevating the status of girls and women.”
--Written by Honorable Sue C. Payton, Former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force/Acquisition and Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense/Advanced Systems

Lt General Michelle Johnson

Lieutenant General Michelle D. Johnson is the superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, a four-year undergraduate institution of nearly 4,000 students that graduates officers ready to lead in the United States Air Force.  In her role as Superintendent, she serves as both college president and military installation commander, overseeing a rigorous program of military training, academics, athletics, and character development, whereby students earn a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.

Prior to becoming the Superintendent, General Johnson served as an airlift and tanker pilot, was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Air Force Academy, and held a variety of senior military executive jobs.  She served as the Deputy Director for Information and Cyberspace Policy on the Joint Staff where she led a team developing Cyber policy and a new military Cyber Command. Serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations and Intelligence for the military headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) she supported crisis and operations planning and execution for multiple NATO missions including those in Afghanistan, Kosovo, in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of the Horn of Africa, and in the skies over Libya. She also had the privilege of serving as the Director of Public Affairs for the Air Force and as aide to both President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. She has also been the commander of the 9th Air Refueling Squadron where she led over 200 people; was the commander of the 97th Operations Group leading over 1,000 people; and served as a wing commander responsible for more than 3,600 people, both civilian and military.

Lt. General Johnson was a distinguished graduate from the United State Air Force Academy in 1981, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Operation Research. She attended Brasenose College at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a Masters of Arts in Politics and Economics. In 2014, she was named an Honorary Fellow for Brasenose College. She holds a Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C., and has attended multiple senior executive programs to include both the Senior Executive Fellows program and Seminar for new Presidents at Harvard University, the Fellows Seminar on Foreign Politics, International Relations and the National Interest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the National Security Management program at Syracuse University. In 1995, General Johnson was inducted into the GTE/CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) Academic All-American Hall of Fame.  This award is given to distinguished student-athletes who perform well both in the classroom and their respective sport. She was also a member of the Air Force Sports Hall of Fame inaugural class and was inducted into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame for the Class of 2014. In addition to numerous other awards, she is a sought after speaker and often gives invited remarks on her leadership philosophy, overcoming challenges, and future opportunities.   

Lieutenant General Johnson hails from Spencer, Iowa. She graduated from Spencer High School as a National Merit Scholar and as an avid athlete who excelled at basketball and track.  General Johnson is married to John Hargreaves, a retired aviator. They are the proud parents of 12-year old twin boys, Preston and Mitchell.