March is celebrated as National Women’s History Month in thousands of communities and military bases throughout the world. This celebration, designated by joint resolutions of the House and Senate and proclamations by six American presidents, is an opportunity to honor and celebrate women’s historic achievements. The stories of women’s achievements are integral to the fabric of our history. Learning about women’s tenacity, courage, and creativity throughout the centuries is a tremendous source of strength. Knowing women’s stories provides essential role models for everyone. And role models are genuinely needed to face the extraordinary changes and unrelenting challenges of the 21st century.
As the country celebrates nationally, locally we will be celebrating our female veterans. The 2017 theme for National Women’s History Month – “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business” – honors women who have successfully challenged the role of women in both business and the paid labor force. Women have always worked, but often their work has been undervalued and unpaid. I can think of no one more deserving to be recognized for her service in both the United States Army Reserve and also in the civilian sector than Major General Paulette Risher!
Paulette Risher is twice retired, once as an Organizational Psychologist with the United States Air Force Research Laboratory and once as a Major General (2-Star) in the United States Army Reserve. With 34 years of active and reserve service, Paulette was the first woman to command an Army Special Operations unit as a flag-officer. When she returned to active duty in 2002, she served as the President of the Joint Special Operations University. Upon leaving active duty, Paulette joined Booz Allen Hamilton and led their Organization, Strategy, and Learning team in Huntsville for three years. Additionally, Paulette served as the Principal Director for Huntsville Operations for DigiFlight, Inc.
Today, Paulette serves as the Program Director for Veteran Employment Services with Still Serving Veterans (SSV), a Huntsville-based non-profit dedicated to helping Veterans and their families successfully transition and integrate into the community and civilian work. Paulette’s primary focus is on assisting veterans in finding meaningful work and assisting employers in welcoming and retaining veterans as valued members of their workforce. Paulette also manages a generous grant from the Call of Duty Endowment.
Paulette holds Master’s Degrees in Psychology and Education. She is also a certified web designer and True Colors Facilitator/Trainer. Paulette is a member of the Women’s Economic Development Council (WEDC), the Association of the United States Army, the Association for Talent Development, the National Career Development Association, and the National Defense Industrial Association. She is also a member of Women in Defense and was awarded their national 2015 Service to the Flag Award. Paulette serves as the Employment Committee Co-Chair of the Alabama Veterans Network (AlaVetNet), a Governor’s Commission challenged with building public-private partnerships to meet the needs of Alabama’s large veteran population. She also serves on the Alabama Small Business Advisory Commission and is an alumna of Leadership Huntsville
By: Sandra Thompson – Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum