Kimberly DeFour: Pursuing a Dream

Kimberly DeFour Interview

ACAMS Today sat down with Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Kimberly DeFour as we celebrate women’s achievements and what it means to #InspireInclusion—this year’s theme for International Women’s Day.

LTC DeFour received her undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences from the University of South Florida in 2005. She received two master’s degrees: the first in Christian ministry from Liberty University and the second in international relations from Webster University.

In 2013, LTC DeFour was recognized by the International Society of Logistics (SOLE) as a demonstrated senior logistician for her knowledge and competence in the field of logistics. She works in the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) headquarters, where she served as the executive officer to the chief of staff and recently transitioned to the secretary of joint staff position.

Some of the military awards and decorations she received include the Meritorious Service Medal (3 OLC), the Army Commendation Medal (4 OLC), the Army Achievement Medal (1 OLC), the Valorous Unit Award, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.

ACAMS Today (AT): What led you to pursue military service?

Kimberly DeFour (KDF): As a child, I always desired to join the U.S. Army, but it was not something my family wanted me to pursue, and I thought I was too weak to join due to my gender. However, that all changed when I joined the North Miami Senior High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). My JROTC instructors infused confidence in me and provided me with the initial foundation needed to serve in the military, while the University of South Florida Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) provided me with the leadership and tactical skills to pursue my dream. On December 15, 2005 I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S Army.

AT: What would you say is the most rewarding experience of your military service?

KDF: My most rewarding experience was being selected to go through the command selection process and being selected to command the 215th Brigade Support Battalion in the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division with 1,300 service members. I am honored that the Army has entrusted me with such a huge responsibility. As a junior officer, I did not envision myself as a battalion commander because the challenges and naysayers I encountered made me doubt it was even possible. However, I was able to align myself with incredible mentors who guided me, family and friends who supported me and my faith in God, which gave me strength to persevere.

AT: How have you broken barriers within your highly decorated military career as a woman?

KDF: Thank you for such a high compliment. There are women in the Army who have received many more awards and badges. The women who came before me paved the way for me to follow their footsteps. However, I have offered a helping hand to those women coming up the ranks behind me so they can excel and one day surpass me. The Army blessed me with the opportunity to be a career manager for logistics majors and I provided guidance to junior majors to help them progress in the Army and take advantage of the opportunities available to them.

AT: This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #InspireInclusion. How would you like to see this theme exemplified in the workplace?

KDF: I see this theme exemplified in my workplace every day. The military is at the forefront of inspiring inclusion in the workplace. The Department of Defense publishes policies, implements programs, mandates training and produces observances to inspire inclusion. In addition, I see senior leaders making decisions to inspire inclusion throughout their formation to build and strengthen their team daily. USSOUTHCOM leadership works endlessly to ensure that our diverse workplace is an inclusive environment.

AT: When you are off the clock, what is your favorite way to give back to your community?

KDF: At my previous duty stations, I volunteered on post at the Gospel and Protestant church services as greeter, treasurer and Sunday school teacher. However, now that my daughter is older, all my spare time is focused on helping her become a productive member of society. She was diagnosed with Mosaic Turner Syndrome and ADHD, which means she must learn to overcome the many challenges her diagnosis presents on top of the external challenges she will encounter in life.

Interviewed by: Karla Monterrosa-Yancey, CAMS, ACAMS, editor-in-chief,

Monica Mendez, CAMS, ACAMS, senior international editor,

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