Yes, Chief Master Sergeant!

After 20 years in Hawaii with the Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall is at the Pentagon , serving as Senior Enlisted Leader for the National Guard. She’ll be back in Honolulu Sept. 20 to speak at the annual Hawaii’s International Women’s Leadership Conference

Christina O'Connor
Wednesday - September 14, 2011
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
E-mail this story | Print this page | Archive | RSS |
At a White House party with husband Gary Hall and daughter Ashley. Photos from Gary Hall and Denise Jelinski-Hall

Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall returns to Hawaii next week to speak at the International Women’s Leadership Conference

In the early 1980s, a twenty-something Denise Jelinski-Hall was staring down the perennial question of all twenty-somethings: What am I going to do with the rest of my life?

Jelinski-Hall had been working at a bank in her hometown of Little Falls, Minn., for the last five years. And while she liked the job, it didn’t take her long to realize that there was no opportunity for advancement. She had known a woman through the bank who was in the Army National Guard, and the two had become friends over the years. One day, this woman came into the bank, and she said, “Denise, you gotta join the Air Force and get out of here.”

Jelinski-Hall had never thought about enlisting, but the two drove to the next city to check out an active duty site. There, JelinskiHall talked to a recruiter and was immediately sold on the idea.

“I thought about it and decided it would be a great opportunity to serve my country, have educational benefits and do some traveling,” Jelinski-Hall recalls. “It all sounded really good ... and I listened to my instincts. Six weeks later I was off to basic training. I sold my car, I sold my furniture, and off I went.”

That question of what she would do with the rest of her life would end up having an increasingly impressive answer. Now, about 25 years after she set off for basic training, that young woman has become a high-ranking enlisted person in a notoriously maledominated field. She established herself as a standout leader early on. Then, while stationed on Oahu for 20 years, Jelinski-Hall climbed the ranks in a variety of organizations.

Meeting NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In November of 2009, she was named the Senior Enlisted Leader for the National Guard Bureau. In this position, Chief Master Sgt. Jelinski-Hall is responsible for advising the Chief of the National Guard Bureau on all professional matters affecting enlisted National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, including training, enlisted development, proper utilization and health of the force.

And next week, JelinskiHall returns to Hawaii which she still calls home as one of the speakers at the International Women’s Leadership Conference Sept. 20 at Sheraton Waikiki Hotel and Resort. This year’s theme is “Growing Our Future: Investing In Women.” The conference began in 2003 after Gov. Linda Lingle and senior adviser Lenny Klompus attended a similar event in Japan.

“When we walked out of the event, we thought how wonderful it would be if the women of Hawaii would be able to hear these women,” Klompus recalls. “I was inspired what they had to overcome to get to their particular positions.”

Jelinski-Hall is living proof that there are no predetermining factors for success that what you put in is what you’ll get out. And what she put in has been hard, unwavering work. And lots of it.

With astronaut John Glenn

Little Falls, Minn., Jelinski-Hall’s childhood stomping ground, is a small rural farming community right in the middle of the state. She grew up on a farm with her parents and five siblings. It was there that Jelinski-Hall cultivated a commitment to hard work.

“My parents taught us a very strong work ethic,” she says. “Growing up on a farm, you learn how to work ... I credit my father particularly; he really taught us a strong work ethic and perseverance and to give an honest day’s work.”

But while her upbringing was conducive to rich values, her educational background was modest. “I didn’t have a real strong educational background,” she says. “I went to a schoolhouse much like Little House on the Prairie ... It was a oneroom schoolhouse in the middle of the country, and we had one teacher who taught all the subjects for all the grades.”

Trading in banking for basic training, Jelinski-Hall began her dynamic rise to the top. Almost immediately, she was pinpointed as a leader in basic training her drill instructor named her the unit’s dorm chief. That means, whenever the instructor was away, JelinskiHall was responsible at the dorm.

After basic training, Jelinski-Hall was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, where she went through Air Traffic Control school. While she excelled in her studies, she says that her achievements were certainly the product of determination and selfdiscipline. “I enjoyed it ... but for me it was difficult,” she says. “I had to really apply myself and study hard. Many, many nights I was the one at 3:30 in the morning under my blanket with a flashlight studying. When weekends came I stayed on base and continued to study. I was driven to do the best I could, so I did

Page 1 of 2 pages for this story  1 2 >

E-mail this story | Print this page | Comments (0) | Archive | RSS

Most Recent Comment(s):

Posting a comment on requires a free registration.



Auto Login

Forgot Password

Sign Up for MidWeek newsletter Times Supermarket



Hawaii Luxury

Tiare Asia and Alex Bing
were spotted at the Sugar Ray's Bar Lounge