The first woman in the history of the Minnesota National Guard to be promoted to brigadier general is University of St. Thomas alumna Sandra “Sandy” Best ’99 M.B.A.
“I am very appreciative of my University of St. Thomas education,” Best said. “It has unquestionably aided in my being competitive for promotion to general officer.”
Best began her military career in 1984 when she joined the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 133rd Airlift Wing as a personnel specialist. She worked her way up the ranks to technical sergeant and became a commissioned officer in 1991.
She became a brigadier general in February, and a ceremony was held with attendees including Best’s family and friends, fellow soldiers and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Maj. Gen. Richard Nash were also there to show support.
Best by no means plans to be Minnesota’s only female general officer. Striving for greater diversity, the Minnesota National Guard has noted a jump of 16.2 percent to 18.2 percent for women in its ranks since 2011, and these numbers continue to grow.
“This increase reflects the importance of promoting great, talented and qualified female candidates such as Gen. Best,” Nash said.
Best said she believes that the guard’s most valuable asset is its members, both male and female alike.
“The guard has always and continues to be blessed with inspirational, courageous and intelligent leaders,” Best said. “The Army and Air [Force] have always and continue to be populated by selfless, determined, heroic airmen and soldiers who understand the vital role they play in mission accomplishment, are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve the mission and remain continually alert and ready for the call to arms.”
In her new role, Best serves as chief of staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard and is responsible for command supervision, oversight, and leadership of the 133rd Airlift Wing and the 148th Fighter Wing. Not only does Best oversee operations and readiness for the units, but she is also in charge of manning, training and equipping them.
Described as “passionate, inspiring, intelligent, decisive, persuasive and always optimistic,” by Nash, it is no doubt that Best has always been and will continue to be one of the best at what she does.