Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association President Andrea Marcilla, right, gives a tour of the academy’s recently completed Maritime Center of Excellence to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (Photo by Seth Jacobson / Courtesy of Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association)
US Coast Guard Academy Superintendent Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, left, pins Capt. Andrea Marcille with her first Command Ashore pin after Marcille’s establishment of command ceremony to take command of the Coast Guard Leadership Development Center on the steps of Yeaton Hall at the Coast Guard Academy on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013.
As a New London native with family in the area, retired Coast Guard Capt. Andrea Marcille that she and her husband “made a very conscious decision to fight hard to stay here.”
And it worked. From 2003 until her retirement in 2014, she served as the first female executive director of the bark Eagle, director of training at the Coast Guard Academy, and then commanding officer of the Leadership Development Center, which is based at the academy.
Since 2015, after a 25-year career in the Coast Guard, she has served as president of the US Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association, also the first woman in this role. The organization has seen $47.1 million in donations over the past eight years, compared to $23.6 million in the eight years prior to Marcille’s tenure.
During this time, the association has also managed fundraising and contract collection for the new 20,000 square meter Maritime Center of Excellence on the academy’s waterfront.
Now Marcille is being recognized outside the academy for her contributions. At its conference last week, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education presented Marcille with its Chief Executive Leadership Award for District 1, which covers New England and parts of Canada.
In a letter of recommendation for the award, Rear Adm. William Kelly on becoming Academy Superintendent in 2019: “I quickly found that there was no facet of the Academy community where Andrea and her team’s presence was not felt. It was amazing to see her leading a significant development effort, which broke historical records for support year after year.”
He cited a new strength and conditioning center and a cyber lab among examples of projects made possible by a $32 million fundraising campaign Marcille launched.
Marcille said she grew up with a Navy chief father who wanted one of his five children to join the military. She applied to the US Naval Academy, but graduate assignments there were more limited for women, and the Coast Guard Academy recruited her to play softball, “if you could call it that back in the ’80s.”
After graduating at the top of her class at New London High School, the civil engineering major graduated about the middle of her class at the academy, saying she had “never been challenged like that” academically before.
In the class of 1989, the percentage of female cadets was much lower, and Marcille said that while she was fortunate to play softball and volleyball, “there just weren’t as many opportunities. Women didn’t stay at the same level. I love the fact that that it has changed now.”
After graduation, Marcille served on a few ships before becoming the commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island, a 110-foot patrol boat based in Mayport, Fla. Marcille regards this assignment from 1996 to 1998 as a high point in her career.
“I don’t know that I really identified as a leader until I was in command of a patrol boat,” Marcille said. She then received her master’s degree in instructional systems technology, was stationed at Training Center Cape May, and returned to New London to serve at Eagle.
Marcille said she “needed a ton of mentoring and coaching to be more confident in my voice and my opinion and just step in to solve problems.”
She does not see that young women in the coast guard today have problems with self-confidence, but she sees advantages in guiding about “understanding that we are not all cut from the same cloth. You come with your own sets of feelings and experiences and skills and knowledge.”
Around 2007, as director of education at the academy, Marcille and then-Professor Laurel Goulet created the Cadet Mentoring Program, which still exists today.
“The impact she has had is most remarkable when observing the profound success of many of the Coast Guard officers she has trained and mentored,” alumni association chairman James J. Smith wrote in his letter of recommendation for the award.
As chairman of the alumni association, Marcille has also spearheaded efforts for diversity, equality and inclusion. In 2019, she hired a consultant to investigate how the association could help the academy’s response to racial incidents among cadets, leading to the formation of a 16-alumni DEI Strategic Action Team.
Marcille also volunteered as an assistant softball coach at the academy from 2008 to 2012, and she currently serves on the boards of the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition and the James A. Greenleaf Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund.