Woman of the Year

  • Patty Shinseki

    A woman to look up to. A woman to emulate. Every year the American Legion Auxiliary seeks to honor a leader and motivator with its Woman of the Year Award. First presented in 1984, the Woman of the Year Award has been conferred on the famous and the relatively unknown, including political leaders and astronauts, editors and singers, First Ladies and members of the military, social advocates and writers. The impact of their work or their advocacy is great and aligns with the mission of the Auxiliary, to serve veterans, their families, and their communities. The Woman of the Year Award is presented at the Auxiliary’s national convention.

    2013 Woman of the Year
    Military wife and advocate Patricia “Patty” Shinseki has been named the 2013 American Legion Auxiliary Woman of the Year for her positive impact on the quality of life for active-duty military servicemembers, veterans and their families.

    Patty is married to Eric K. Shinseki, current Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and retired U.S. Army General. As an Army spouse for 38 years, Patty Shinseki has devoted much of her time to volunteering in schools, Family Readiness Groups, the American Red Cross, the Army Community Service, Thrift Shops, the Arlington Ladies, Army Family Team Building and spouse development initiatives, among other military family programs and priorities.

    “Patty Shinseki’s work with military families, Army medical care services, and military children perfectly aligns with the mission and programs of the American Legion Auxiliary,” said ALA National President Peggy Thomas. “Because she exemplifies the very best in support for our American heroes, it is indeed an honor to present Patty Shinseki with the American Legion Auxiliary 2013 Woman of the Year award.”

    Shinseki received the Auxiliary’s prestigious award Aug. 27 at its 93rd national convention in Houston. The Woman of the Year award presentation was held at a luncheon sponsored by Quadriga Art. Previous recipients include L. Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, former first lady Laura Bush, country music artist Barbara Mandrell and humorist/author Erma Bombeck.

    Shinseki, a native of Kauai, Hawaii, graduated from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., with bachelor’s degrees in both biology and sociology. She earned a master’s degree in biological science education from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. She taught biology and physical science in high schools in Hawaii and served as a substitute teacher for Department of Defense Schools overseas.

    She has served on the Boards of the Armed Services YMCA, The Army Distaff Foundation, Army Emergency Relief, and has provided assistance and support to other organizations serving military families. She currently serves on the Advisory Boards of the Armed Forces Amputee Care Program at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, The Military Child Education Coalition, and The Citizen-Soldier Support Program. She is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, recruited by National President Thomas.

  • About This Award

    Established in 1984, the Woman of the Year Award recognizes outstanding women who exemplify the values and ideals of the American Legion Auxiliary, particularly those whose contributions advance the quality of life for America’s military, veterans, and their families.

    Criteria & Selection

    • Recipients may be an Auxiliary member or someone eligible for membership, but eligibility is not necessary for consideration.
    • Their contributions should be high profile in nature and therefore have had a wide-ranging effect and/or impact.
    • The recipient should display the ideals and values defined by the mission of the organization.
    • The recipient serves as an inspirational role model and/or spokesperson for the organization and membership.
      Selection is at the discretion of the national president.
    • Recognition and presentation of the award occurs at the national convention.
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    Year Recipient Title/Organization/Accomplishment ALA National President
    2013 Patricia “Patty” Shinseki Military wife and advocate Peggy Thomas
    2012 Linda Wieck Quilt-maker, military mother-in-law, and American Legion Auxiliary member Kris Nelson
    2011 Melissa Seligman Co-authored “Simply Green” with her husband and is the co-author of “A Heart Apart,” an interactive book for military children. Carlene Ashworth
    2010 The Honorable L. Tammy Duckworth Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Rita Navarreté
    2009 Lori Stevens Patriot PAWS Desireé Stoy
    2008 Tara Crooks Military Lifestyle Writer & Talk Radio Host Jan Pulvermacher-Ryan
    2007 Gale S. Pollock Deputy Surgeon General for Force Management, U.S. Army JoAnn Cronin
    2006 Condelezza Rice Secretary of State Carol Van Kirk
    2005 Barabra Mandrell* Country Music Artist Sandi Dutton
    2004 Audrey Fisher Fisher House Ambassador Katherine Morris
    2003 Chely Wright Country Music Artist Elsie Bailey
    2002 Kathryn Koob Foreign Service Officer Sherry McLaughlin
    2001 Laura Bush First Lady Kristine West
    2000 Kay Yow North Carolina State Women's Basketball Coach Elizabeth Stewart
    1999 Christine Gregoire First Female Attorney General Virginia Hobbs
    1998 Elizabeth B. Walker Writer of Barefoot in the Rubble Barbara Kranig
    1997 Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Lieutenant Governor of Maryland Phyllis Bachman
    1996 Corinne "Lindy" Claiborne Boggs Former U.S. Representative of Louisiana Syble Deshotel
    1995 Christine Todd Whitman Governor of New Jersey Linda Newsome
    1994 Beverly Baron Drug Abuse Prevention Helen Holcomb
    1993 Patricia Hanges Child Advocate Linda Boone
    1992 Kathryn C. Thornton Astronaut Margaret Yankovich
    1991 Humorist & Author Minister Ruby Paul
    1990 Marilyn Quayle Wife of Vice President Dan Quayle Betty Calder
    1989 Margaret Adams Senior Editor, Good Housekeeping Magazine Alice Galka
    1988 Susan Sullivan Actress Pearl Behrend
    1987 Elizabeth Hanford Dole U.S. Secretary of Transportation Evelyn Starr
    1986 Marge Schott Owner, Cincinnati Reds baseball team Josie Melgard
    1985 Paula Hawkins US Senator from Florida Helen Gardner
    1984 Ensign Kristine Holdereid First woman Midshipman to graduate at the top of her class at the U.S. Naval Academy Anna Gear

    *Given as the "Lifetime Achievement Award"

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"Just knowing an organization like the American Legion Auxiliary exists, providing support to our military and our families even when we're gone, makes a world of difference." - ALA member and Indiana National Guard Col. Marilyn Moores

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