Apr 21, 2023 at 12:46 pm
A 1989 U.S. Naval Academy graduate has been nominated to serve as the school’s first female leader.
Rear Adm. Yvette Davids’ nomination as the academy’s 64th superintendent was announced Friday by Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael M. Gilday. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Davids would replace Rear Amd. Sean Buck at the completion of his four-year term this summer. Davids has also been nominated for the rank of vice admiral.
Davids’ career in the U.S. Navy began during Operation Desert Storm, when she served as an electrical officer, combat information center officer and communications officer aboard the combat ship USS San Jose.
She went on to become the first woman of Hispanic descent to command a Navy warship when she took the helm the USS Curts, leading the frigate through the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Her additional onboard postings include helming the aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and Carrier Strike Group 11. Stateside, Davids’ has served as senior military advisor to the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs with the U.S. Department of State and chief of staff for the U.S. Southern Command.
She currently serves as director of the Learning to Action Drive Team, a post she has held since August 2022. The board was launched in the wake of a catastrophic fire aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard in 2020, which injured more than 60 sailors and civilians, as a way to address training, leadership and safety problems. Those ongoing issues were the subject of a Government Accountability Office report released this week.
Now, Davids will train those problem-solving and oversight skills on the Naval Academy as the 64th superintendent to serve at the school since its founding in 1845.
As a midshipman, Davids studied oceanography and was known under her maiden name, Yvette Gonzales. She rowed on the crew team and eventually married Keith Davids, a 1990 academy graduate who became a rear admiral and SEAL team commander. The couple has twin sons.
Heather Purvis, vice president of the academy’s Class of 1989, described the Davids as “a Navy power couple,” and praised the Navy’s leadership for appointing a woman to the school’s top post.
“I’m super proud,” Purvis said. “I can’t believe it’s finally happening.”
Davids went on to earn master’s degrees from both the Naval War College in 2002 and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 2012. A native of San Antonio, Texas, Davids has received the Mexican American Women’s National Association’s Las Primeras Award for Latinas who demonstrate important ‘firsts’ in their fields.
The Naval Academy is the last of the five service academies to have a woman nominated as leader. In December, Joanna Nunan became the first female superintendent of the Merchant Marine Academy.
Buck was appointed superintendent in 2019. A 1983 Naval Academy graduate, he commanded the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and the U.S. 4th Fleet out of Mayport, Florida.
During his tenure, Buck has been an active face in the Annapolis area community, and Mayor Gavin Buckley has characterized the town-gown relationship between the city and academy as “stronger than ever.” But under his watch, sexual assault reporting has increased by 18%, and the military remains under pressure to improve living and working conditions for women and LGBTQ+ service members.
The leadership transition is expected to take place this summer, the Naval Academy said. A Navy spokesperson said Davids is not available for an interview because her nomination is still pending.