2016 Tillman Scholar

Caitlin Conley

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“My next endeavor will enable me to develop and mentor the next generation of soldiers and organizations.”

Growing up outside New York City, the attacks on September 11, 2001, had a tremendous impact on Caitlin and her perspective on service to her country.  It was then as a junior in high school and her country going to war that Caitlin knew the right decision was military service.  Graduating from the United States Military Academy in 2007, Caitlin commissioned as an officer in the Military Police Corps.  At the time, women were prohibited from serving directly in ground combat arms branches such as Infantry or Armor, so the Military Police Corps and its mission represented the closest opportunity to serve on the front line.  Since her time as a cadet, Caitlin has worked continuously to demonstrate that tactical and technical competency is not decided by gender but by the individual, and as a young military officer, she continued to push the envelope on women’s role in combat assignments. In 2008, she was selected to lead the first Military Police Platoon organic to an Infantry Stryker Brigade Combat Team and became the Army’s first female maneuver officer in an Infantry Stryker Brigade.  In 2010 she was selected as the first female officer to serve in an operational capacity within a special missions unit.  During her past six years in the Special Operations Community, Caitlin served in numerous operational and leadership roles to include multiple overseas deployments.  In 2014, Caitlin was selected to command a newly established unit charged with developing and integrating cutting edge technological capabilities into ground tactical operations.  During its inaugural year, Caitlin brought her troop from concept to tactical reality, enabling U.S. forces to maintain a greater advantage over the enemy.    

Wanting to be the leader that turns ideas into action, Caitlin continues her service making the world a safer place by finding realistic solutions to complex problems within the national security arena while blazing a trail for future female officers in the Special Operations community. Caitlin’s experiences have showed her that effective solutions to strategic problems require informed and innovative leaders bold enough to seek out unconventional approaches and build broad ranging teams. As a current and future leader in the Special Operations Community, Caitlin will operationalize the skills learned from MIT MBA program to better guide niche capability special operations units and pursue innovative solutions to advance U.S. strategic interests.