TEDx Speaker & Coach • Leader • Award-Winning Author • Captain U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.)
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 her passion of changing the rules of engagement.
Today, an experienced inspirational TEDx and keynote speaker, Martha presents to corporations, schools and leadership symposiums. Martha enjoys making a difference using her own “sea stories” and her profiles of top-leaders, courageous men and women as a foundation for her keynotes and TED style talks. Martha delivers life-changing stories enriched by hard-earned wisdom. 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 Coast Guard Academy with a masters from Harvard University, Martha rose to the senior rank of captain.
An award winning author of five books, including So Others May Live Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers Saving Lives, Defying Death and Changing the Rules of Engagement Inspiring Stories of Courage and Leadership from Women in the Military. A journalist, she published stories in The Boston Globe, regional magazines and US Naval Institute Press.
A wife and mother of two sons, Martha served 10 years on active duty with two tours at sea as one of the first woman leading teams on missions aboard a ship sailing the Pacific Ocean and as executive officer and the only woman aboard a 110-foot patrol boat patrolling the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Assignments include law enforcement, search & rescue, joint operations, contingency planning in Alaska, across the West Coast of North American, Hawaii, Key West, Pacific Northwest and New York. Transitioning to the reserves in 1999, she moved from Seattle into New York City working for a public relations technology firm for clients like IBM. As a reserve officer, her part-time duties for the Coast Guard included as Sector New York’s Enforcement and Governmental Affairs Officer then contingency planner after 9-11. Hand-picked to work in Washington, D.C. as the Commandant’s Press Secretary, the bookends of this tour were the Haitian earthquake and 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill responses. Other tours include senior leadership roles in Mobile, AL, Boston and Cleveland, Ohio.
After growing up in Destin, Florida, Captain LaGuardia-Kotite’s professional studies began with a Bachelor of Science in Government from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a Masters of Liberal Arts degree in journalism from Harvard University. An Emergency Preparedness Liaison to FEMA she earned the highest national incident management certifications as a Type I Public Information & Liaison Officer. She is a trained in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills. Awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, six Commendation Medals, three Achievement Medals, numerous service and team awards.
Her inspirational leadership presentations and writing 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.
- Changing Tomorrow by Seizing Today - Dream Bigger
- Our Ocean's Health - Why We Should Care
- Resilient Crisis Management
- The Aftermath of Suicide - Why This Matters