Emily “Hawking” Shilling joins SPARTA Board as Membership Director

WASHINGTON D.C. – SPARTA, the nation’s leading transgender military service organization, is proud to announce our newest member of the Board of Directors, Emily “Hawking” Shilling, who will be joining us as SPARTA's Membership Director.

Emily has been a member of SPARTA since APR 2019 and this is her first official role within the organization. She assumes the mantle of Membership Director from Keishaun Lowery, and is excited to bring her passion and willingness to listen to and celebrate diversity in the position.

“Diverse mindsets, experience sets and backgrounds differentiate us as a nation from our enemies. Freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom to explore, are strengths our adversaries do not share. We must play and embrace this advantage to win.”

CDR (sel) Shilling is active-duty in the United States Navy and serves as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer (AEDO) for Naval Aviation Acquisitions out of Patuxent River Maryland. She deployed for Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn as an EA-6B Prowler Pilot off of the USS Abraham Lincoln from 2009-2013.

After her fleet tours she obtained her master’s degree in Systems Engineering and was sent to the United States Naval Test Pilot School where she was trained in aircraft evaluation and test flight. In 2015 she accepted orders to VX-23, the Navy’s elite strike fighter test squadron, where she flew the EA-18G and F/A-18E/F in support of multiple development programs including the new Electromagnetic Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear. During this time she was accepted to transition to AEDO and has since been working acquisition programs across a wide array of technologies and organizations.

Emily believes that authenticity - and the willingness to serve authentically - is a core strength of transgender servicemembers, and one that makes them better leaders.

“Authenticity is a core leadership characteristic we need to encourage and foster in our armed forces. Authenticity builds trust, it builds character, it builds leaders into humans that sailors, airman, soldiers, marines and guardians will want to follow.”

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LeAnne Withrow (she/her) serves as a Staff Sgt. In the Illinois National Guard, as well as the Communications Director for SPART*A, and as an Equal Opportunity Specialist for the ILNG
Illinois, United States Website
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