Changing the Rules of Engagement


Changing the Rules of Engagement

Inspiring Stories of Courage and Leadership from Women in the Military

New Edition

Martha LaGuardia-Kotite
Forewords by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Jeff Miller
With a new afterword by the author

210 pages
37 photographs, index


May 2021


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2021


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2011


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Changing the Rules of Engagement brings to life the authentic, vivid stories of leadership from inspiring and adventurous women who achieved the extraordinary by serving their country in the U.S. military. These women shattered the glass ceiling and performed extraordinary feats by refusing to take “no” for an answer and learning how to lead in traditionally male-dominated environments. Martha LaGuardia-Kotite skillfully captures their leadership lessons, struggles, and successes—showing how courageous and tenacious women can achieve their goals and help change policy, insights also applicable to today’s leaders in corporate and business boardrooms.

Whether soaring into outer space with the second woman to command a space shuttle or plunging to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean with a combat veteran special operations diver, these profiles in leadership highlight a range of powerful examples: from Vivien Crea, a vice commandant of the Coast Guard, who rose to the highest position of any woman in the history of the U.S. military, to Tammy Duckworth, who demonstrated her resilience after being shot down while piloting a helicopter in Iraq and went on to serve as a U.S. senator. Also included are the inspirational stories of women Marines and the first women members of the military service academies’ gender-integrated classes, who recall the highs and lows of their trailblazing journey.

Representative of a widely diverse group of enlisted women and officers of different races and cultures, these women have succeeded since the mid-1970s at combating prejudices and aiding change in the military culture with grit, intelligence, leadership, and honor.

Author Bio

Martha LaGuardia-Kotite’s bold leadership style empowered her to become one of the first women officers to serve aboard two Coast Guard cutters with all-male crews. Rising to the senior rank of captain in the U.S. Coast Guard, she served with distinction for twenty-nine years at sea and ashore. A TEDx and keynote speaker, empowerment enthusiast, and journalist with an MA from Harvard University, LaGuardia-Kotite is the author of the award-winning So Others May Live: Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers Saving Lives, Defying Death and has written for numerous publications and newspapers, including the Boston Globe. Visit her website


“You’ll feel the tension facing the first female in the U.S. military to become a demonstration acrobatics Thunderbird pilot. You’ll feel the raw emotion of the first Navy nurse corps officer to be appointed as commanding officer of a medical surgical unit as she treated the severely wounded in Iraq. You'll admire one of the first women to attend the naval academy and then smile at discovering that her family became the first in America to send every member to the naval academy. After reading Changing the Rules of Engagement, you’ll feel renewed pride and patriotism in the U.S. military and the sacrifices of these women.”—Jane Hampton Cook, author of Resilience on Parade: Short Stories of Suffragists and Women's Battle for the Vote

“Martha LaGuardia-Kotite deserves our thanks for sharing the incredible stories of those who paved the way for all of us serving today. I am struck by the courage and humanity of the women she features and by the fact that they are my contemporaries. In a single generation, we’ve witnessed great transformation in our armed forces!”—Capt. Melissa Bert, USCG

“Most of us from that pioneer generation of women in defense have been too busy to stop and take notice of how far we’ve come in the last thirty years. With Changing the Rules of Engagement, Martha LaGuardia-Kotite has given us the chance to do so, and the journey is indeed wondrous to behold.”—Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland, Fox News national security analyst and former national security official in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations

Changing the Rules of Engagement is an anthology full of journeys that must be shared. I’m so glad that Cmdr. Martha LaGuardia-Kotite has made it her mission to delve into the personal stories of seventeen trailblazers and share them with all of us.”—From the foreword by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), chairwoman, Democratic National Committee

Changing the Rules of Engagement helps strengthen my belief that we should honor our service members and veterans every day of the year. LaGuardia-Kotite and the women she interviewed will surely serve to inspire future generations of young women to follow in their footsteps and achieve excellence in our nation’s armed forces.”—From the foreword by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Table of Contents

Foreword by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Foreword by Rep. Jeff Miller
1: Out of This World
2: Supersonic
3: From Sea to Shining Sea
4: Second Change at Life
5: "The Few, the Proud, the Women Marines"
6: Her Wings Broke the Glass Ceiling
7: First Female Four Star
8: Courage on the Front Lines
9: Rugged War Veteran, Glamorous Single Mom
10: From Colorado to Congress
11: In the Men's House: Class of 1980
12: Bringing Light to the Darkness of the Deep
About the Author

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