NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
The theme of National Women’s History Month is honoring the past, securing the future. In honor of this national celebration of trailblazing women, Defense Logistics Agency Distribution is highlighting the accomplishments of women senior leaders during the month of March. Following is an interview with DLA Distribution San Diego, California, Commander, Navy Capt. Kerri Yarbrough:
How long have you been in your current position? What other leadership positions have you been in? I assumed command of DLA Distribution San Diego June 5, 2020. Other leadership positions I have held are division officer, assistant department head and department head, which included serving as the supply officer of USS Shoup from 2003-2005 where I led a department of 50 personnel. I also served as supply officer on two Navy Aircraft Carriers – USS Ronald Reagan, and USS George Washington – where I had the opportunity to lead a department of over 400 personnel. I was also fortunate to serve as deputy of Naval Supply Weapon Systems Support- Philadelphia prior to assuming command of DLA Distribution San Diego.
What is your leadership style? I consider myself both a transformational and servant leader. I believe in leading how you want to be led, listening and inspiring others to help drive change. Because every organization is different, I also align my style and how I communicate based on the team I’m leading.
What has prepared you for a position of leadership? I have used every boss and commander since my first division officer tour to help prepare me for future leadership positions. I always believe you can learn something from someone and for me personally, my peers and/or subordinates sometimes taught me the most. I also believe assuming challenging/visible opportunities such as flag aide, executive officer, deputy or chief of staff roles offer you the most in terms of preparation.
What do you consider the most challenging aspect of your position as a leader of your organization? Most challenging aspect is keeping up with the mission/priorities in a very dynamic operating environment while taking care of my team.
Who has mentored you along the way? I’m very fortunate to have a long list of mentors but admittedly I would not be where I am today without the mentorship, guidance and support from my family. Personally and professionally, I tend to consult and lean on them first. A few other mentors that took me under their wing, challenged me and offered their candid advice anytime/anywhere are Navy Rear Adml. Duke Heinz; Navy Rear Adml. Doug Noble; Navy Capt. (Ret.) Scott Murdock; and Master Chief Petty Officer Mary Ames.
What advice would you give to other women working to rise in the ranks? We have so many trailblazers who have paved the way for us … there are no barriers, I believe anything is possible.
What does serving in the military mean to you? The military means so much to me as it has been a part of my family and way of life since I was born. I feel fortunate to have come from a military family where my dad served 26 years in the Army, my sister served 25 years in the Army and I have numerous family members who have served. The opportunities/challenges it has afforded me both personally and professionally have been beyond humbling and rewarding. Serving means more than being a part of something that is greater than ourselves and where service comes before self, for me it is a means giving back while doing something I enjoy most.
Do you have anything more to share about your position as a leader, or anything specific about Women’s History Month in general? I am truly grateful for God, my family, those who have come before me and inspired me throughout my career. I want to thank all those who had a hand in celebrating Women’s History Month. It’s an honor to be a part of an elite organization and to learn about DLA’s “sheros” across the enterprise!