Mary Saunders, a retired major general of the U.S. Air Force and the founding executive director of the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership at Texas Woman’s University, has been selected to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Public Leadership Education Network. The Public Leadership Education Network is focused on preparing college women for leadership in the public policy arena. General Saunders will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on March 17.
General Saunders is being honored for her work at the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership. The institute is dedicated to preparing women to take on successful roles in business and public service. Through the institute’s three specialized centers — the Center for Student Leadership, the Center for Women Entrepreneurs, and the Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy — the institute ensures women have the education to establish careers as successful corporate executives, the skills for building entrepreneurial businesses, and the framework needed to run for public office.
Saunders, who is a graduate of Texas Woman’s University, launched the university’s leadership program in 2006 and became the institute’s executive director when it was founded in 2018. She was the first woman officer selected as the director of transportation in the U.S. Air Force. In this capacity, she provided guidance for 32,000 active duty and civilian personnel and was responsible for a fleet of 115,000 vehicles.
General Saunders earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from Texas Woman’s University and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Rider University in New Jersey. She also attended the U.S. Air Force’s Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.