NL native recognized for work advancing Coast Guard Academy
As a New London native with family in the area, retired Coast Guard Capt. Andrea Marcille said she and her husband “made a very intentional position to fight hard to stay here.”
And it worked. From 2003 to her retirement in 2014, she served as the first female executive officer of the barque Eagle, training manager at the Coast Guard Academy, and then commanding officer of the Leadership Development Center, which is based at the academy.
Since 2015, after a 25-year career in the Coast Guard, she has served as president of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association, also the first woman in this role. The organization has seen $47.1 million in donations over the past eight years compared to $23.6 million in the eight years prior to Marcille’s tenure.
The association in this time has also overseen fundraising and contracting for the new 20,000-square-foot Maritime Center of Excellence on the academy’s waterfront.
Now, Marcille is getting recognition outside the academy for her contributions. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education at its conference last week presented Marcille its Chief Executive Leadership Award for District 1, which covers New England and parts of Canada.
In a letter of recommendation for the award, Rear Adm. William Kelly said upon becoming academy superintendent in 2019, “I soon found there was no facet of the Academy community where Andrea and her team’s presence were not felt. It was astonishing to see that she was leading significant development efforts that were breaking historic records of support year over year.”
He cited a new strength and conditioning center and cyber lab among examples of projects made possible by a $32 million fundraising campaign Marcille launched.
Marcille said she grew up with a Navy chief father who wanted one of his five children to go into the military. She applied to the U.S. Naval Academy but post-graduation assignments there were more limited for women, and the Coast Guard Academy recruited her to play softball, “if you could call it that back in the 80s.”
After graduating at the top of her class at New London High School, the civil engineering major graduated around the middle of her class at the academy, saying she had “never been challenged that way” academically before.
In the class of 1989, the share of female cadets was much lower, and Marcille said while she was fortunate to play softball and volleyball, “there just wasn't as many opportunities. Women didn’t retain at the same level. I love the fact that’s changed now.”
After graduating, Marcille served on a couple ships before becoming commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island, a 110-foot patrol boat based out of Mayport, Fla. Marcille considers this assignment, from 1996 to 1998, a highlight of her career.
“I don’t know that I really identified as a leader until I was a commanding officer of a patrol boat,” Marcille said. She then received her master’s degree in instructional systems technology, was stationed at Training Center Cape May, and returned to New London to serve on the Eagle.
Marcille said she “needed a ton of mentoring and coaching to be more confident in my voice and my opinion and just stepping in to solve problems.”
She doesn’t see young women in the Coast Guard today having problems with confidence, but she sees benefits for mentoring around “understanding that we don’t all need to be cut from the same cloth. You come with your own sets of emotions and experiences and skills and knowledge.”
Around 2007, as training manager at the academy, Marcille and then-professor Laurel Goulet created the Cadet Mentoring Program, which still exists today.
“The impact she has had is most notable when observing the profound success of many of the Coast Guard officers she has trained and mentored,” alumni association board Chair James J. Smith wrote in his letter of recommendation for the award.
As president of the alumni association, Marcille has also spearheaded diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. In 2019, she hired a consultant to explore how the association could help the academy’s response to racial incidents among cadets, which led to the formation of a 16-alumni DEI Strategic Action Team.
Marcille also volunteered as assistant softball coach at the academy from 2008 to 2012, and she currently serves on the boards of the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition and James A. Greenleaf Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund.
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