A trusted executive-level leader and advisor to the military’s most senior officers, DeDe bolsters executives as they navigate unpredictable situations rife with competing demands. DeDe encourages and facilitates the hard work of embracing the paradoxes, ambiguities, and gray areas of leadership to find the gifts in these spaces rather than being paralyzed by them. In particular, DeDe helps leaders bring strength and courage to their every-day work, not just to big moments, in order to cultivate trust and drive change with the teams they lead. DeDe knows today’s leaders are asked to make decisions in lightning speed with less-than-ideal amounts of information. She also knows how alone many leaders feel when they carry the weight of these decisions on their shoulders. DeDe is passionate about supporting leaders in these situations so that they respond deliberately, rather than impulsively react, for far more effective outcomes.
Described by Dr. Brené Brown as one of her “leadership heroes and a total badass” in the New York Times’ bestseller Dare to Lead, DeDe is a U.S. Air Force retired Colonel. During her 25-year accomplished career, DeDe became a trusted advisor to some of the United States’ highest-ranking military leaders, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense. Deployed twice during the Iraq War, DeDe has had first-hand experience as a leader and advisor under literally the most difficult circumstances, often when lives were at risk and when there were no easy answers. She understands leadership not just from studying it, but by truly living it.
During her career in the Air Force, DeDe realized that traditional military leadership lacked the skills to navigate the often-overlooked area of emotions, like empathy and shame, which then prevented leaders from having the difficult conversations that could promote organizational connection rather than undercutting it. Whether it’s wholehearted discussions regarding mental health, racial injustice, or gender inequality, DeDe has come to realize these painful topics can be more effectively addressed by stepping into the arena of vulnerability, wherein lies the path to true courage.
A certified “Dare to Lead” facilitator, DeDe is a Senior Executive Coach certified through Georgetown University’s Executive Leadership Coaching Program. DeDe holds a master’s degree in leadership from American Military University and a B.A. in Communications from the University of Iowa. She is also a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, Squadron Officer School, and Defense Information School.
DeDe currently makes her home outside of Alexandria, VA.