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RADM Melissa Bert Fills Top USCG Legal Spot

— May 11, 2020

Congratulations to Rear Admiral Melissa Bert, the first woman to serve as Judge Advocate General and Chief Counsel of the Coast Guard.

In April, the United States Coast Guard announced the promotion of Rear Admiral Melissa Bert to its top legal position. As Judge Advocate General and Chief Counsel of the Coast Guard, Bert, a 33 year Coast Guard veteran, now leads the UCSG’s legal team and is responsible for all legal services provided to the USCG as an organization, to its units and people, and in support of its missions.

RADM Melissa Bert is the Coast Guard’s 20th chief counsel, 7th uniformed judge advocate general, and is the first woman to fill this role.

Most recently, Bert was the director of Governmental and Public Affairs for the Coast Guard. In this position, she served as a liaison between the Coast Guard and external organizations such as Congress, the White House, intergovernmental agencies, media outlets, and other stakeholders. Prior to that, Bert served as Deputy Director of Operations for the U.S. Northern Command, responsible for homeland defense as well as defense support for North American civil authorities.

Before attaining flag rank in 2016, Melissa Bert held both legal and operational positions within the Coast Guard. As the Coast Guard Seventh District’s chief of staff, Bert supervised Coast Guard engagement in the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean.

A logo with two crossed anchors and the words "United States Coast Guard 1790."
Mark of the United States Coast Guard. Public domain image by the U.S. Coast Guard, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Bert also served as Chief of the Coast Guard’s Maritime and International Law Office, providing legal expertise on a wide variety of matters, from homeland security and counter-terrorism to environmental protection and Arctic policy. In this role, she provided legal advisory support in cases related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in a civil and criminal settlement of $1.4 billion.

As the commander of Coast Guard Sector Juneau, Bert’s leadership helped successfully avert a catastrophic coastal oil spill cleanup.

During the events of 9/11, Bert was the Operations Officer for Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach, responsible for protecting the second busiest port in the United States.

Bert was a fellow in residence with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and a national security fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During a fellowship with Harvard University’s National Security Program, Melissa Burt’s articles were featured in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and the Miami Herald.

Melissa Bert graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and government, and holds a Doctor of Law from the George Washington University Law School. She was an adjunct professor at George Washington University and the University of Miami Law School.

She has also been awarded a multitude of distinctions and honors, including the Joint Superior Service medal, the Legion of Merit medal (twice), and three Meritorious Service Medals. In 2006, Bert received the Judge Advocates Association Outstanding Career Armed Services Attorney Award, and in 1997 the American Bar Association named her the Young Military Lawyer of the Year for the Coast Guard.

In 2012, Bert founded the Coast Guard Women’s Leadership Initiative, a nonprofit that supports and mentors young women in the Coast Guard by developing their leadership skills and providing business networking opportunities.

Congratulations, Rear Admiral Melissa Bert!

Related: Kimberly Teehee, First Cherokee Delegate


Coast Guard names first female judge advocate general
USCG names its first female judge advocate general and chief counsel
Rear Admiral Melissa Bert
Melissa Bert on LinkedIn

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