Army HR Chief is First African-American Female Two-Star General

Filed under: Diversity,Human Resources,Management,News |

U.S. Army Human Resources Command‘s deputy commanding general, Marcia M. Anderson, became the Army’s first-ever female African-American officer to obtain the rank of major general Thursday, 29 Sept. 2011, at Ft. Knox, Ky.

Army Maj. Gen Marcia M. Anderson
Maj. Gen Marcia M. Anderson

Maj. Gen Marcia M. Anderson’s background shaped her into the personable, successful woman she is today, according to the an Army press release.

Anderson attended an all-girl Catholic school in East St. Louis, Ill., which fostered excellence in young women that might be otherwise masked in a co-ed educational environment.

“Going to an all-girl high school definitely formed part of who I am today. You weren’t trying to impress any boys. Excellence was valued. You were just doing what everybody else was doing. You were trying to excel,” Anderson said. “The faculty every day encouraged you to excel, and you just did. There were a lot of great role models among the faculty — all very accomplished. They spent a lot of personal time with you.”

Anderson said that experiencing that type of support leads to fulfilling your role models’ expectations.

“You want to validate their faith and confidence in you, and it makes you excel,” she said.

Family life, too, enhanced her search for knowledge.

“You were encouraged to be more aware of the world around you and curious. I never grew out of asking, ‘Why?’ The news was part of my house every evening. My mother took me to the library every Saturday,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s journey to becoming the Army’s first female African-American major general was made up of things that were largely unplanned.

“I firmly believe that we are never in control of very much,” she said. “The most we can do is have a set of values and beliefs, and adhere to them as closely as possible.”

Anderson said she valued curiosity, tolerance and striving for excellence.

“Be a lifelong learner. Accept people for who they are. Accept change because it is inevitable,” she said. “Do not expect to be rewarded just because you show up on time, do what is expected of you and leave at the same time every day, because that is merely C-grade work.”

Anderson said she learned from peers and senior officers what it means to be a good leader, and she incorporated their advice into her personal leadership style.

Those who attended Anderson’s promotion proceedings were each “a witness to history,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commanding general of the U.S. Army Accessions Command and Ft. Knox.

“We honor a leader, an officer, a lawyer, a wife, a mother and a grandmother — summed up, a great American,” Freakley said.

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