By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Scott Wichmann, Commander, Navy Reserve Force Public Affairs
Now serving as Reserve Force Career Counselor at Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command (CNRFC), Master Chief Navy Counselor Kimberly Cedar is responsible for training and mentoring all 250 career counselors across the Reserve force, while simultaneously serving as an inspiration to women at every leadership level.
“The Navy has changed in so many ways,” said Cedar, who joined in 1994. “We had the first two women in the nuclear program in my bootcamp company. I didn’t realize how significant that was until several years later. It was a lot different in the ‘90’s, and it is great to see women are making up a larger percentage in our military ranks.”
Today, the Navy Reserve is comprised of 2,594 Full-time Support (FTS) and 12,118 Selected Reserve (SELRES) female Sailors, serving our Nation around the world.
The Navy Counselor (NC) rating is vital to the overall growth and effectiveness of the Reserve force. NCs organize and implement enlisted retention and career information programs, evaluate enlisted career development programs, coordinate and supervise counseling efforts, and counsel Sailors and their family members on career opportunities available in the Navy.
In short — on a daily basis, NC’s like Cedar show their fellow Sailors that, in today’s Navy, anything is possible.
“Our Navy has made large strides in program equality,” said Cedar. “Over my 26 year career, I have had a female command master chief, commanding officer and department head. I am a better leader and Sailor because of those women who paved the way for me.”
Cedar was quick to point out that leadership and advancement opportunities for women didn’t just magically manifest themselves on one fine Navy day — they came as a result of women raising their voices and, in some cases, stepping outside their comfort zone to shake up the status quo.
“These changes have come about from women speaking up and sharing their concerns,” said Cedar. “We simply cannot afford not to have women speak up and be heard. It is not easy, and, in my experience, great ideas often go unspoken. We need to encourage each other, open the door for feedback and reassure women who do speak up to offer their ideas and suggestions.”
Originally from Northeast Ohio, Cedar received her associate’s degree from Saint Leo University in 2005 and earned her bachelor’s degree in healthcare management from Southern New Hampshire University in 2019. In her role at CNRFC, she works to improve processes and consistently raises her own voice to ensure the NC rating continues its vital function.
“We recently added 11 new first class Navy counselor billets at the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) level,” said Cedar. “My goal is to be able to get an NC in every NOSC with 200 Sailors or more. I think that is an important step for being able to provide our Sailors with the best counseling and professional development. With that comes with some challenges, but I have a plan.”
According to Cedar, one of the highlights of her job is guiding Sailors toward the threshold of a new door and seeing them as they find a challenging opportunity waiting for them on the other side.
“I recently was able to provide a Sailor with some pertinent information about a training opportunity that allowed her to submit for a special program,” said Cedar. “She is now a command senior chief and I could not be more proud of all her accomplishments.”
Cedar said she understands how important it is for women to step up and lead Sailors.
“Women want to see other women in leadership positions,” she said. “It shows that it is possible for them to achieve their goals and it gives them someone to emulate. Women bring a different perspective, and I believe that is important for other women to see at all levels of leadership.”
As she looks toward the future, Cedar reiterated the importance of women speaking up and staying engaged at every level in their command and beyond.
“With every experience, you gain strength, courage and confidence,” she said. “Inspiring women to achieve their goals is an amazing feeling and I do not take that lightly. It is truly a great honor, as a woman and a master chief in the Navy, to make a positive impact where I can. I truly believe that when women support each other, remarkable things can happen. If we continue to stay involved, partake in program initiatives and provide our ideas and input, anything is possible. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”