Skip to Main Content

General Session Speaker

Nicole Malachowski

Col. Nicole Malachowski (USAF, Ret.)

Tuesday, April 16
8–9:15 a.m.
Harnessing Headwinds

As a member of the elite United States Air Force Thunderbirds flying demonstration team (and the the first woman to do so), Col. Nicole Malachowski (USAF, Ret.) was part of a team that demanded flawless execution under extreme circumstances because lives literally depended on it. The Thunderbirds were just two years of an exceptional 21-year Air Force career during which she became a White House Fellow and adviser, served at the Department of Defense, was a mission-ready pilot in three operational squadrons and a fighter squadron commander, and served as a combat pilot. As an Air Force leader, Malachowski constantly challenged assumptions by matching people’s values with the job to be done. In this talk, she draws on her distinguished career to offer inspiring lessons for leaders and followers.   

A leader, a combat veteran, the first woman pilot on the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron, an instructor, a White House Fellow, and an inductee into the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame, Malachowski’s Air Force career exceeded her wildest dreams. She earned a Master of Arts, with honors, in National Security Policy from American Military University and a second Master of Arts, with the highest distinction, in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. While there, she earned the Admiral Stephen B. Luce Award as the class honor graduate, the first Air Force officer in the history of the Naval War College to do so. She has been recognized with several honors for her consistent contributions to community service.