Martha LaGuardia-Kotite on stage at the 2019 Joint Women's Leadership Symposium

Martha LaGuardia-Kotite

Fortune 100 & 500 Keynote Speaker • TEDx Speaker & Coach

Be Bold, Be First, Be You: Martha LaGuardia-Kotite’s bold leadership style empowered her to be one of the first female officers to serve aboard two Coast Guard cutters with all male crews.  Patrolling the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Caribbean Sea, Martha remained true to herself while changing the rules of engagement.

Today, an experienced inspirational TEDx and keynote speaker, making a difference using her own “sea stories” and her profiles of top-leaders, she believes that no matter your age or experience, you can be bold, you can achieve your daring dreams and you can enjoy the journey of life!

A graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a masters from Harvard University, Martha rose to the senior rank of captain and is an award-winning author of five books. Her inspirational leadership presentations are influenced by her 29-year career serving at sea and ashore and the courageous trailblazers she has profiled in her books.

A senior leader, Martha earned numerous personal and team awards for her mobilizations during national disasters, missions saving lives at sea and work as a public relations spokesperson for the Service, the Commandant’s Press Secretary and a New York City public relations firm’s account director for IBM. Martha lead the Coast Guard’s development of emergency crisis management liaisons across the FEMA regions and nation. She deployed on scene for significant national events like the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and numerous catastrophic hurricanes including Sandy and Maria. Hand-picked by the Commandant, she worked in Washington, D.C. as the Commandant’s Press Secretary and served at sea on a cutter sailing the Pacific Ocean and as executive officer of a patrol boat patrolling the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Martha resides in Florida with her family.

 Martha helps Fortune 100 & 500 companies and businesses build trust, corporate leaders inspire and empowers teams and students as a keynote speaker, moderator and panlist for events or leadership symposiums - let’s fire them up!

Martha LaGuardia-Kotite US Coast Guard Retirement Keynote Speaker
Martha LaGuardia-Kotite Speaking at TEDxDAU
Martha Kotite speaking at KDVA 2023

Media Clips

Breaking Barriers and Being The First | Confidence Clips

Martha tells Jocelyn Michelle her story and how she overcame self doubt to conquer the world.

VeteranCrowd Spotlight Trailer

Martha speaks with Bob Louthan of VeteranCrowd | June 2021

Keynote Highlights

Featured highlights from some of Martha's most inspiring keynote events.

Fortune 100/500 Clients and Associations


To say that I was inspired and motivated from last week's Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium is such an understatement. Like we briefly discussed, it was amazing hearing stories from go-getters and achievers, like yourself, who have experienced setbacks but bounced back and conquered more than their expectations prior to said setback. <Read More>

Nicoletter Hallmark

In the crowded field of motivational speakers, Martha LaGuardia-Kotite stands above the rest because of her genuine passion and courage. Pulling from her own experiences, facing one’s fears by taking the steps to move forward and breakthrough any barrier, Martha has realized new heights. In doing so, she is a positive role model.. <Read More>

Patrice (PJ) Jackson
TEDx Program Manager, Influencer, Difference Maker, Author

Martha LaGuardia Kotite is an exceptional author and speaker who brings her passion and mastery of storytelling to each project she undertakes. She has the uncommon ability to tackle grand themes with unforgettable human details that take readers and audiences into the moment while opening their minds to the big picture. I enthusiastically.. <Read More>

Jeff Carter
Director of Corporate Communications, Defense Finance and Accounting Service

Martha has dynamic oratory skills, that clearly captivates an audience in the same manner as she does in her writings. A true patriot - outstanding person, and someone who has served her country with pride and professionalism in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. I would recommend her for any position of responsibility, as well as any opportunity.. <Read More>

Vince Patton
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, ret., Senior VP for Leadership Development NewDay USA

If you have not had the honor of hearing her speak, you have missed the proverbial "Coast Guard Boat". She will have you on your feet celebrating her story and the stories of those she has served with. She is a "hero" in every sense of the word! She doesn't act like a hero or trumpet her accomplishments. She doesn't have to. Martha is captivating.. <Read More>

Lauren Veach
Manager, Tiara Project

Personally and since 2014, I have witnessed Captain LaGuardia-Kotite’s talent as a motivational, inspirational speaker, comfortable and captivating on both the large stage such as Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium with over 800 veterans or on the corporate and training environments or breakout rooms. A collaborative leader, Martha.. <Read More>

John Dittmer
VI Sea Service Leadership Association, VP

As a freelance journalist and author, Martha's writing continuously covers topics with an emotional connection and a detailed eye. Her works are insightful and indicative of her love for the military, her country, and her fellow citizens and their stories.
This same.. <Read More>

Kim Guedry
Ceveal Solutions CEO

Martha was a fantastic speaker who brought so much to the audience.  I had hoped for an inspiring speech—and received a whole lot more!  She has such incredible experience and empathy for our servicewomen—both active and veteran.

Bill Nelson
Director of KY State Veteran Programs

How Martha Makes A Difference

Martha’s presentations include these topics or a customized one:

Be Bold. Be First. Be You. Learn how these differentiating factors attract top talent, build trust, help businesses succeed and leaders inspire.

We possess the unique opportunity to improve the quality of our life and make a difference for others and our world by striving for what we can be. Martha shares insights from her career in the U.S. Coast Guard and “sea stories” from her interviews with top leaders to help drive personal, business and cultural change. Facing our fears & taking risks requires courage. This inspiring presentation is relatable to corporate boardrooms, teams and individuals. In 45-minutes, participants will rise up renewed and ready to execute the steps to Be Bold, Be First, and Be You!

Martha Kotite on the left side of the photo in a blue dress top, speaking to an audience on the right

As a master story teller, Martha delivers fascinating leadership stories and empowering discussions from the military to the boardroom to motivate both teams and individuals.

Martha is an experienced leader building teams in the Coast Guard at sea and ashore and in the corporate environments while working in New York City. Her presentation will give your team the insights to be ready to work through a crisis, identify goals for long term success while giving them tips to take the next step with courage.

Martha inspires audiences with her own “sea stories” and leadership insights from her interviews with inspirational change-makers, adding well placed humor to describe leadership lessons, tips and overcoming adversity from the deck plates to working with the White House. A maverick, she is an example of how to make positive change happen and earn respect in a male dominated military where women are 15% of the force.

Author of the award-winning book, So Others May Live: Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers Saving Lives, Defying Death, she published four other books on leadership, role-model women in the military and a collection of STEM stories for younger audiences.

Martha LaGuardia-Kotite speaking at a US Coast Guard Retirement

Fostering unity and equality are active conversations in diversity and inclusion offices, by faculty, among students, military and business leaders. Yet, we’re still not there! I’ve learned behaviors I witnessed 30 years ago on my ship as one of the first two women assigned, are still taking place today. Achieving equity and unity across generations requires an understanding of the roots of inequality. Actions and accountability are still needed to change inappropriate, commonplace cultural or institutional norms and policies which support discrimination. Refining our awareness of practices, policies, comments & gestures is one of the first steps to stand-up to insensitive harassment and discrimination. In this presentation, I will talk about how we use our personal norms and policies for the good and sometimes, inadvertently perhaps, for the detriment or disparagement of others who are not like us because of their sex, color, age or beliefs. Hear about issues and steps to incorporate inclusiveness while improving business practices and culture. I have faith that small actions of equity and acceptance of others, mavericks, people who don’t look like our “norm” or talk like “us” or are from “that generation” can have positive consequences for teams, businesses, our military and our own happiness and fulfillment. I will help your audience build awareness. We will take a small step for change. Imagine, cumulatively, how many miles will be walked for progress.

U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers Group Photo U.S. Coast Guard Women Group Photo

Martha encourages audience participation and engages participants to face complex challenges, to rise and realize success, giving them actionable solutions.

Faced with adversity, we all feel afraid. Martha provides insights to avoid paralysis that prevents productive responses. She shares insights on how to build solutions to bring to the fight in business or in life. Utilizing her own experiences working through the chaos of a national crisis, helping build solutions, she provides insights on leading teams and individuals.

Certified as Type 1, the most complex Incident Command System level for a national incident, Liaison Officer and Public Information Officer, her experience working with corporations, state and local leaders brings value to this presentation.

Hand-picked to serve as the US Coast Guard Commandant’s Press Secretary in Washington D.C., Martha worked as a Coast Guard spokesperson with the White House, Department of Homeland Security and international media through the bookends of this assignment: the Haitian earthquake in 2010 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. From this experience and her work at sea on two ships or during major national disasters like Hurricane Sandy’s strike on the Northeast seaboard and the triple Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2017, Martha knows that being resilient and working through the aftermath of a crisis is the only option for success in any business.

Nationally certified and experienced managing major disasters and incidents of the highest level (Type 1) as a Public Information Officer and Liaison Officer, Martha responded to the aftermath and destruction of national disasters including hurricanes Irma/Maria, Sandy, Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Alaska.

She brings her experience working and leading with teams at the national, state and local level to audiences to help your team optimize their performance.

Leading Your Crew Through Calm and Turbulent Seas

  • Why we should talk: I deliver life-changing stories. I create relatable presentations enriched by hard-earned wisdom and my belief that no matter your age or experience, we can be bold; we can achieve our daring dreams or mission, having fun along the way.
  • What I can do for you: I like making a difference, helping people overcome their fears, take risks to achieve their bigger dreams by giving them tools to discover their own beyond. This is a great way to spend the day.
  • Ready to go: Achieving a senior officer rank in the U.S. Coast Guard taught me a thing or two about getting along with people from all sorts of places and points of view, managing their different leadership styles and, being always ready to go, even if it meant deploying for a national disaster or shipboard patrol – that said, I can travel to work with your team or be your speaker.

Martha's Books

Featured Articles

Concede the Inevitable

I recently wrote an article for the Fall edition of 850 Business Magazine on Disaster Preparedness. Read this article on...
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The Real ResQ Podcast

Listen to the Podcast here.   In this episode of The Real ResQ, host Jason Quinn is joined by Martha...
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Big Sky, Big Event!

Want to hear about awesome? I was invited by a Fortune 500 company to speak after Luke Grimes (Yellowstone actor...
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Honoring Those Who Serve – Freedom Is Not Free

Imagine if we raise the flag and honor those who died for our freedom, everyday, not just on Memorial Day!...
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Contact Martha


Martha LaGuardia-Kotite - Leader, Professional Speaker, Award Winning Author Logo