Q&A with NAVCENT Command Master Chief Celina Miller

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anita Chebahtah | March 08, 2023

In recognition of International Women’s Day, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs sat down with Command Master Chief Celina Miller for her perspective on leadership and women in the Navy. She has seen a lot of changes during her 24-year career. The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: Have you served with a woman you have looked up to?
Yes. When I was a first class, Command Master Chief Cynthia Patterson was the first female CMC I had ever come across at that point in my career. She was an awesome leader, constantly trying to develop me as a leader and challenging me to have different perspectives on things. While we were in Afghanistan, she empowered women in our unit, shared stories and fostered cultural understanding. She taught us how women, regardless of their background, are actually very similar when it comes to some of our roles and responsibilities. [CMC Patterson] continues to be a person in my life today.

Q: Have you ever been starstruck after meeting a woman who served in the military?
I first met Fleet Master Chief Joann Ortloff when she was in Naples, Italy, and I was serving nearby in Sigonella. I had read stories about her. She was the most senior active duty enlisted female Sailor in the Navy until her retirement in 2015. One day, I walked into a Navy Exchange and saw her. I said, “Oh my goodness, that’s her!” Although I was stunned, I tried to play it cool. She is like many leaders today who want to share their stories and continue to guide our Navy in different ways. It was really cool to run across her.

Q: How do you feel about Sailors celebrating you as part of International Women’s Day?
I appreciate it, but I am not a person to boast about myself so I feel a little awkward. It was my executive officer who pointed out that I was the first woman to serve as the CMC aboard USS Halsey in 2017. I thought that was cool, but I see myself as a Sailor that does the job and keeps moving. I appreciate it, but I am just going to work and doing what I love to do.

Q: What do you think are the most important aspects of leadership?
I think job expertise comes first. Then the ability to train the next person coming in. Sailors are what create the innovation, dynamics, ideas and how we do what we do. I think it’s important to understand leadership opportunities and create growth. I try to make sure that these things are a part of what I do and how I mentor Sailors. I want to help them continue to develop and create opportunities for success.