Enlisted Empowerment—The Female Perspective: Deputy MCPOCG Leilani Cale-Jones

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CMC Leilani Cale-Jones, the Deputy Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
CMC Leilani Cale-Jones, the Deputy Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard

Blog series created by YN3 Courtney Myers

This is the first in a series of Q&A blog posts highlighting enlisted female leaders serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. Be sure to check back monthly for more career insight, mentorship and inspiration.

What do your daily duties entail?

The Deputy Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard is responsible to and serves as a personal advisor to the MCPOCG and the Vice Commandant on all matters affecting the morale, work-life, and general well being of Coast Guard enlisted personnel and their families; works closely with other service Command Senior Enlisted Leaders; and oversees the efforts of the Command Master Chiefs.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career?

I have lots of memorable moments but one of the most recent was the opportunity as an enlisted member to be able to speak at the remembrance ceremony for SM1 Douglas Munro on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of his death. As is widely known, he is the only Coast Guard Medal of Honor winner in history.

Deputy MCPOCG Leilani Cale-Jones speaks at a remembrance ceremony honoring the 74th anniversary of the death of SM1 Douglas Munro, the Coast Guard's only Medal of Honor recipient. anniversary
Deputy MCPOCG Leilani Cale-Jones speaks at a remembrance ceremony honoring the 74th anniversary of the death of SM1 Douglas Munro, the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient. anniversary

What is your favorite part of your job?

The favorite part of my job is when we can advocate for the morale and welfare of Team Coast Guard – active, reserve, and families.

Do you feel as though you have faced obstacles that your male counterparts have not?

I would be reticent to claim a blanket statement that there were obstacles I faced that male counterparts have not; however, that does not mean I don’t feel there have been people who believed I got to where I am because I was meeting some diversity “mission.” That feeling is rooted in being made aware of male counterparts in the past who expressed to others that an opportunity, such as assignment as a gold badge CMC, was because I am a woman.

Do you have a hobby that you enjoy outside of work?

I have lots of hobbies that I enjoy outside of work, including hiking, kayaking, fishing, camping, working on cars, building things to include wood projects and fishing rods, remodeling, brewing beer, and spoiling my granddaughter.

Is there anything particular you do outside of your Coast Guard service to maintain your personal identity?

All of my hobbies and my family keep me rooted in my personal identity. It should be noted that with 29 years of active duty service, part of my personal identity will always include being a Coast Guardsman.

CaleJones_PolarSeaAre you a mother? If so, do you ever find it difficult to balance mom life and operational life?

I am a mother of a beautiful 26-year-old daughter who makes me proud every day. As a yeoman, there have only been a few times when “operational life” needed to be balanced. Back when she was 10 years old I was assigned to the CGC POLAR SEA and I’m not going to lie, it was hard to get underway for six months at a time and feel that I was missing out, but the idea that she would be there long after the Coast Guard was over, and there would be many more memories to come, was helpful. Outside of the SEA, my roles as a Rating Force Master Chief and CMC put me on the road that required me to figure out care for her since she was only 16 when I first took the job as RFMC. My ex-husband and I were able to come up with a plan that ensured she was taken care of when I was on the road.

What advice would you give to young women thinking about joining the service?

Serving your country, especially in this service, is something I think all young Americans should do – at least for four years. For women, it is an organization you can be on par pay wise from the get-go, and there are lots of opportunities to learn a trade and/or skill set you can take back out to the civilian world along with a military background which is looked upon favorably by a lot of employers for a myriad of reasons.

What is the most valuable lesson the Coast Guard has taught you in regards to leadership?

Be humble. You are not always going to be right, but you have the opportunity to always do the right thing, and that includes letting others take the lead when they need to or are more qualified to.

If you have used Tuition Assistance, please tell us about your experience.

I have used Tuition Assistance to earn a Bachelor in Business Administration, a Master certificate in Quality Systems Management with a Green Belt in Lean/Six Sigma, and an MBA in Strategic Leadership. Not pursuing a degree when TA is available is like throwing a check for $4,500 from Uncle Sam every year in the trash. Pursuing degrees is an excellent way to open your aperture and mind, and has tangible benefits not only in the Coast Guard, but in the civilian workforce.Deputy Badge

Do you have a mentor? If so, how did you go about choosing this individual?

I have several mentors. I choose mentors who have accomplished something I am interested in pursuing. Sometimes the mentorship is short lived and sometimes it is long lasting. It really depends on the connection and the goal I’m trying to pursue. It is extremely important to understand that mentors are not just folks senior. My mentors sprinkle the Enlisted and Officer side of the Coast Guard and I even have mentors outside the service who aid me in personal development.

If there was one thing you wish you would have known when you reported to your first unit that you know now, what would it be?

Friendships are lasting; don’t miss an opportunity to make them (and keep them).

Are you a Coast Guard member in search of a mentor, additional leadership or just a push in the right direction? Do you have rating questions and need a brain to pick? If so, CMC Cale-Jones has expressed interest in being a mentor and invites you to ask questions and share your experience. She can be reached via Global.

 

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