HWS Trustee Gail H. McGinn ’73, president of McGinn Consulting, LLC, based in Arlington, Va., has recently been appointed chair of the National Military Family Association (NMFA).
A former administrator with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), McGinn brings decades of expertise on military and civilian personnel management, strategic planning, and organizational development to the NMFA, the “go to” source for Administration Officials, Members of Congress, and key decision-makers who want to understand the issues facing military families.
Founded in 1969 by a handful of military spouses who wanted to make sure their widowed friends were properly taken care of, the NMFA helped ensure the Survivor Benefit Plan became law within the following two years. The small, but determined, group of spouses around a kitchen table subsequently expanded into a strong force of military families representing all ranks and Services. McGinn previously served on the Board of Governors for the NMFA.
Before launching her consulting career, McGinn worked for 37 years with the DOD, most recently as deputy under secretary of defense for plans. Dedicated to serving others while ensuring servicemembers and their families receive proper support, McGinn currently focuses on military family issues, foreign language education, wounded warrior matters and leadership training.
While employed at the Pentagon, she worked scrupulously to develop programs centered on military family support, child development, domestic violence prevention, and casualty and mortuary affairs policies. With the DOD, McGinn served as one of the highest-ranking civilian women and was the senior career official responsible for policy oversight of the DOD’s community quality of life program. She worked with the Army on a special task force that created an Army Family White Paper and Action Plan that fundamentally changed the Army’s approach to supporting the servicemember’s family.
During her service, McGinn took part in the operation of a Department of Defense K-12 school system in the United States and overseas, as well as a commissary and military exchange system to supply groceries and goods to military personnel and their families located around the world. In addition, McGinn served as the senior language authority for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and worked to improve DOD foreign language capabilities. She also developed measures geared toward addressing sexual assault within the U.S. Armed Forces.
Throughout her remarkable career with the DOD, McGinn has received many honors for furthering the well-being of servicemembers, their families and national defense, including three awards from the President of the United States, one of which is the highest award for federal service: the Presidential Distinguished Executive Rank Award. She is a two-time recipient of the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award. Her other awards include the Secretary of Defense Awards for Distinguished Civilian Service, Meritorious Civilian Service and for Exceptional Civilian Service, as well as the Department of the Army decoration for Meritorious Civilian Service, the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, and the Order of the White Plume. In 2009, McGinn also won the DOD Senior Professional Women’s Association’s Excellence in Leadership Award, which recognizes exemplary leadership, professionalism and advocacy in breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for women.
Earlier in her career, McGinn was the director of program analysis and evaluation at the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center. Preceding that, McGinn worked on the U.S. Army staff and served on a special task force that inaugurated family programs in the Department of the Army. Her career also afforded her the opportunity to work abroad, including three years in Frankfurt, Germany.
McGinn received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from William Smith. She graduated magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. While at the Colleges, she was a member of the William Smith judicial board, the Echo and Pine yearbook and the Dean’s List. McGinn went on to earn an Ed.M. from Boston University.
A dedicated member of the HWS community, McGinn currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees, including as former chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and as a member of the audit and compliance committee. She returned to her alma mater in 1997 to give the Founder’s Day address. In 2005, she won the esteemed William Smith Alumna Achievement Award. In 2011, she was an invited lecturer for the Colleges’ Professionals in Residence Series, giving a talk, “Civilian Careers in the U.S. Defense Department.”