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New commandant of cadets reports for duty: Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin says leadership development, innovation will be her focus

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U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs/May 19, 2017

When you chat with Brigadier General Kristin Goodwin, you get a sense that something exciting is about to happen.

She leans forward in her chair with a smile in her eyes when she talks about the things that excite her … like the Air Force Academy, Airmen, and the Air Force.

And this Airman is passionate about continuing the Academy’s quest for innovation and developing forward-thinking leaders as the Commandant of Cadets.

“I’m excited, humbled, and honored to be back at my alma mater, an alma mater I love and am very proud of,” she said.

The commandant graduated from the Academy in 1993 with a bachelor’s of science in mechanical engineering. She was so focused on flying and combat operations that the idea of one day becoming commandant and leading an organization with 4,000 cadets and 200 military and civilian personnel was not on her radar.

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the Academy superintendent, said Goodwin’s career embodies the scope of experience and Airmanship needed to successfully lead the school’s critical mission of developing leaders of character.

“When you consider Brigadier General Goodwin’s career and accomplishments, whether a command pilot with nearly 3,000 hours in multiple aircraft — including the B-2 Spirit; senior military advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force or commander of the 2nd Bomb Wing, the largest bomb wing in our Air Force, you know the Air Force selected the right officer to successfully lead such an important mission.”

General Goodwin’s breath of experience from the past 24 years is shown through her last 14 moves, and now with her 15th move to the Academy, she is back where she started.

Career moves

With diploma in hand, Goodwin attended pilot training at Laughlin AFB, Texas, and learned to fly T-37 and T-1 trainer aircraft. From Laughlin, she moved to Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, to fly C-130 Hercules. She left Little Rock for Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona, to serve as an operations officer and EC-130 pilot.

After that, she took part in the Air Force Intern Program at the Pentagon working on the Headquarters Air Staff, the Joint Staff and Capitol Hill. She then headed-off to Whiteman AFB, Missouri, to qualify to fly T-38 trainer aircraft and become a B-2 Spirit instructor pilot.

Since making the leap from mobility pilot to bomber pilot, Goodwin has served as the first woman to command the a Bomb Wing in our Air Force; was part of the planning team for night one of the “Shock and Awe” air strike campaign during Operation Iraqi Freedom; led the planning of air operations for night one of Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya; and served as a pacific region political advisor to the chief of staff of the Air Force and as a political officer in the Bangkok Embassy. She also had a fellowship at the prestigious Center for Strategic International Studies think tank in Washington, D.C., focusing on nuclear policy and operations.

Military family

General Goodwin was born in Pennsylvania but moved every three years as a child due to her father’s service in the Coast Guard. She claims she is from Fairfax, Virginia because that is where she went to high school. Now Colorado is her home and she is excited to be back in the state she loves!

The commandant said her family’s military background helped establish the foundation for her success, providing her with an understanding of military culture.

“I grew up in a military family,” Goodwin said.  “My dad was 30 years Coast Guard and my mom retired as a 20-year Air Force reservist, so I had the great fortune of traveling to many different places.”

Goodwin set her sights high at an early age; she aspired to follow in her father’s footsteps but along a slightly different path.

“When I was 10 years old, I had the goal to go to the Air Force Academy and become a pilot,” Goodwin said. “I saw my father and his classmates’ from the Coast Guard Academy and how they interacted.  It was something that I knew I wanted to be a part of – not only a special family like that but also the opportunity to serve. I was very passionate about going into the Air Force and flying.”

“My family embodies patriotism and what it means to sacrifice,” she said. “Their inspiration motivates me to be the best Airman I can be in every aspect, including fitness.”

The commandant is an athlete who has competed in Iron Man competitions, placed third in the grueling Bataan Death March Memorial held in the White Sands of New Mexico, completed five marathons, and enjoys scuba diving, rock climbing and surfing. It is apparent she loves tackling new challenges, adventures, and learning new skills.

General Goodwin lives every day to make a positive impact in people’s lives and serve this great nation as an Air Force warrior.

“I live to be the voice of people who do not have one. Every day, I have the great opportunity to be part of the world’s greatest Air Force and work with outstanding Airmen who lead and inspire me,” she said.

Goodwin approaches life with passion and it is easy to believe her. She’s a vibrant and social person who laughs easily and enjoys talking about the Air Force and connecting with Airmen.