Cmdr. Emily Shilling receives LGBTQ+ Advocate of the Year from Out & Equal at a ceremony Oct. 20 in Las Vegas, Nev. (Photo courtesy of Out & Equal)

Navy commander receives top award for LGBTQ+ advocacy

Cmdr. Emily Shilling received the 2022 LGBTQ+ Corporate Advocate of the Year Outie Award from Out & Equal, a global organization working exclusively on LGBTQ+ workplace equality, at the annual Workplace Summit Oct. 20 in Las Vegas.

The organization recognized Shilling for her efforts advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and working to improve the Navy’s inclusion efforts.

“At a time when the rights of the LGBTQ+ community are at risk, workplace leaders have an important role in safeguarding our community,” said Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal. “We are grateful for Commander Shilling’s exemplary leadership in creating inclusive workplaces where everyone belongs.”

Shilling is the Naval mission planning system military deputy program manager for the Strike Planning and Execution Office (PMA-281) at Patuxent River and is also a member of NAVAIR’s Diversity Action Team. She works with transgender personnel, senior leadership, Congress and the Defense Health Agency to provide mentorship, advocate for inclusive military service, improve access to medical care, and create a safe work environment.

“With SPARTA, a transgender military advocacy organization, MMAA [Modern Military Association of America], and my fellow service members, we are advocating and helping the military better understand our stories, our needs, and what unique experiences we bring to the fight,” Shilling said.  “Above all we are showing that trans and gender non-conforming people cannot only serve in the military but are thriving in their service.”

Shilling is one of thousands of transgender identifying active duty and reserve military members currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Shilling and her fellow service members advocate for inclusive service by always upholding our core values, honor, courage, and commitment, she said. 

Shilling received a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado and was wing as a naval aviator in 2007. She has flown EA-6B, EA-18G and F/A-18 E/F aircraft and completed deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan where she conducted 60 combat missions operating from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).

In 2015, Shilling graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and also received a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School. She then served as a project officer for Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 at Patuxent River. In her current role, Shilling manages the information, tools and decision aids needed to rapidly and accurately plan aircraft, weapon and sensor missions.

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