Gen. Cadoria is a pioneer of our lifetime

A- A A+

Gen. Cadoria is a pioneer of our lifetime

By Kris Kieper
Chief Executive Officer, YWCA of Rockford

Kris Kieper
Kris Kieper

February and March are reflective months for me as both provide insight and inspiration for the work of the YWCA Rockford; February is Black History month, which leads into Women’s History month in March.

There are so many women in history we’ve never heard of, never celebrated their efforts and impact on our world today. As guilty as historians have been of neglecting women in history, they’ve been even more neglectful to women of color.

While we all learned of Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, there are other notable African-American women whose names rarely come to light. Women like C.J. Walker, who after her husband’s lynching created a specialty hair line and became the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S.

Or Charlotte Hawkins Brown, who in 1902 founded the Palmer Institute for African-American students; the school ran for 60 years and now houses a museum that explores the history of African-American women and education.

Thinking through the neglectful history brought to mind a woman of a more recent time, a woman I had the pleasure of knowing but didn’t fully appreciate until later. We don’t necessarily think of legends living in our own time, so it wasn’t until recently that I began to think of her as such.

Gen. Cadoria (via USS KIDD)
Gen. Cadoria (via USS KIDD)

I would wager few know the name Sheridan Cadoria, and she probably doesn’t realize the long-term impact she has had on young women, especially young women of color. I had the absolute pleasure of working with her in Washington, D.C. I knew her then as Gen. Cadoria. She was one of the most elegant women I’d ever met, softly spoken, encouraging and always smiling. You’d have been a fool to allow the soft, southern accent and expertly coiffed hair fool you; she had a backbone of steel, commanded attention, and was a pioneer for women and African Americans in the armed forces.

Gen. Cadoria grew up in the South during a time of intense segregation and Jim Crow laws; she entered the Women’s Army Corps in 1961 as a first lieutenant but couldn’t serve as a platoon leader because she was black. From Fort McClellan, Ala., to Vietnam to the Pentagon to the White House and many posts in between, she navigated a highly decorated military career of “firsts” that is impressive: she was the first African-American woman selected to attend the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the first African-American woman to attend the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the first African-American woman to achieve the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army.

Gen. Cadoria was one of the first women to serve as a military police officer, the first woman to command an all-male battalion, and was the first woman to lead a criminal investigation brigade. In 1985, she became the first African-American woman to serve as a director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

After 29 years of service, Gen. Cadoria retired in 1990. At the time, she was the highest ranking African-American woman in the United States armed forces and one of only four female generals in the U.S. Army.

There are so many people Gen. Cadoria influenced; so many that I’m sure today, she’d never remember most of us. I’m proud to recognize a pioneer of our lifetime, and I’m honored to have benefitted from her encouragement and mentorship.

Kris Kieper is chief executive officer of the YWCA of Rockford and a community member of the Rockford Register Star Editorial Board.

Article published in the Rockford Register Star

8 responses to “Gen. Cadoria is a pioneer of our lifetime

  1. We are a gaggle of volunteers and opening
    a brand new scheme in our community. Your site provided us
    with useful info to work on. You have performed a formidable job and
    our entire group will probably be grateful to you.

  2. I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all site owners
    and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.

  3. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I
    stumbleupon every day. It’s always helpful to read through content from other authors and use a
    little something from their web sites.

  4. Does your site have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to
    shoot you an email. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it expand over

  5. I believe everything posted made a lot of sense.
    But, what about this? what if you were to create a killer headline?
    I mean, I don’t want to tell you how to run your website, but what if you added
    a title that makes people desire more? I mean Gen. Cadoria is a pioneer of our
    lifetime – YWCA USA is a little vanilla.
    You might glance at Yahoo’s front page and watch how they create news
    headlines to get viewers interested. You might add a related video or a related pic or two to grab readers interested about
    what you’ve got to say. In my opinion, it could bring your posts a little livelier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *