Women in Transportation History: Annie B. Andrews, U.S. Navy and the Federal Aviation Administration

Annie Belle Andrews, who was born in 1959, has served as a high-level and even trailblazing leader in both military and civilian capacities. She highlighted her approach to leadership in 2016 when she addressed the graduating class of the Women’s College of Brenau University of Georgia. “Not only as women do you have a voice and a seat at the table, but you also can be the one to call the meeting to order,” Andrews proclaimed to those graduates. “Successful people understand the old adage that ‘If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.’”

Andrews graduated from Philadelphia High School for Girls, a public magnet school, in 1977. She went on to earn her bachelor of science in criminal justice at Savannah University in 1983. That same year, Andrews joined the U.S. Navy.

She began her naval career at Naval Station Whiting Field in Florida. While serving there, Andrews was an administrative assistant officer in Training Air Wing 5. She was also a flight simulator coordinator for Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHT (HT-8), which is the Navy’s oldest active helicopter squadron. HT-8 provides helicopter pilot training for student aviators in the Navy, U.S. Marines Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard and also selected foreign military flight students.

Andrews steadily rose through the ranks of the Navy, and her assignments included serving in key personnel support positions for sailors at naval stations in both Iceland and the Philippines. During her time in the Navy, Andrews found time as well to earn a master of science degree in management at Troy State University in 1995 and a master of arts degree in national security and strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College in 1999.

Andrews also had the distinction of becoming only the third African American woman to attain the rank of rear admiral in the Navy. (The first two African American women to be promoted to rear admiral were Lillian E. Fishburne and Michelle Howard.) By the time she retired from that military branch in 2015, Andrews was commander of the U.S. Navy Recruiting Command. In this role, she served as the Navy’s top recruiter.

A couple of months after leaving the Navy, Andrews started a new chapter in her career as assistant administrator for human resources management at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FAA, which regulates civil aviation both within the United States and in surrounding international waters, is the federal government’s largest transportation agency. Andrews’ responsibilities on behalf of FAA’s 46,000 employees involved overseeing a wide range of personnel programs and policies and also strategic partnerships between the agency and human resource services. Andrews worked at FAA until retiring in 2022.

Over the years, Andrews has received several honors. These include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Women of Color Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Our history is bejeweled with bold and brazen women who have overcome barriers, shattered glass ceilings and shifted paradigms,” Andrews asserted while giving the keynote address at a National Women’s History Month celebration at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division in Virginia in 2018. “Across cultures and generations, women have stood up, spoken up, stepped up, stirred up, fallen down, and gotten back up — and they just happened to make history while doing it.”

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on Annie B. Andrews, please check out https://www.navy.mil/Press-Office/News-Stories/Article/2249248/retired-admiral-annie-andrews-inspires-audience-at-navy-womens-history-month-ce/ and https://www.vtti.vt.edu/wts.vt.2018/files/Andrews.pdf

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