Combat tests you. Being a beat cop tests you. Life tests you. Three brothers and being the only girl...tests you. Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour has been tested her whole life. A gutsy trailblazer, her resume is an impressive collection of “firsts” including America’s first Black female combat pilot. She served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine. She was also a diversity liaison officer to the Pentagon for Headquarters Marine Corps. After her military service, FlyGirl revved up her career in the private sector as an entrepreneur, consultant to business, and author of Zero to Breakthrough, The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter. As a speaker, FlyGirl unleashes hard-hitting advice and amazing anecdotes from her adventures on the battlefield and in business. She helps individuals and organizations Get Gutsy and build a sustainable inner force and conviction, that results in accomplishing significant goals.
In 2007, FlyGirl launched VAI Consulting & Training, LLC. Through that work, she helps individuals and organizations make gutsy moves and create breakthrough results by applying her “Zero to BreakthroughTM ” Success Model – a mindset that helped to propel her career and kept her safe in air combat. FlyGirl regularly takes her message to premier meetings and conferences worldwide and is a Gutsy Confidence Mentor for elite senior executive Women in Tech.
As a Black gay woman and single mom, FlyGirl brings vital experience to her role as a member of the Forbes School of Business & Technology Board of Advisors and COMCAST/NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Council.
FlyGirl has two honorary doctorates and has received numerous awards as a pioneering pilot, including honors for her commanding role in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour’s story has been featured in the media including on CNN, MSNBC, The View, FOX News, Oprah Winfrey and many more, along with being a running back for the San Diego Sunfire professional women’s football team and two-time title holder of Camp Pendleton’s Strongest Warrior Competition.
She is currently working on her next book, The Gutsy Move.
How did it all start? Vernice was born in Chicago, IL in 1973, and moved to Memphis, TN after her parents divorced when she was three. By the age of four, she knew she wanted to be a police officer that rode a horse downtown. She received her first pony as a gift on the Christmas day following her fourth birthday and her dream quickly started to have a foundation in reality. In 1991, she graduated from John Overton High School for Creative and Performing Arts where she was very active in the music program, class vice president, a member of Mu Alpha Theta (mathematics honor society), and The National Honor Society.
In 1993, the future combat pilot enlisted in the Army Reserves and joined the Army ROTC program while at Middle Tennessee State University. During an Army ROTC career day, the seed of becoming a pilot was planted when Vernice saw the image of a young Black female in an Army flight suit. “Now why didn’t I think of that!” was her first thought!
In June of 1996, after a brief stint as a Nashville Sheriff’s Department correctional officer, Vernice took a break from college to accept an invitation to the Nashville Police Academy. She graduated in December 1996 – and later became the first woman of color on the Nashville Police Department’s motorcycle squad. She graduated from MTSU in December of 1997 with her B.S. in Physical Education: Emphasis in Exercise Science.
With the aviation seed in full bloom, Vernice was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on December 12, 1998 and on her way to flight school. When Vernice finally earned her wings in July 2001, the ambitious pilot ranked No. 1 out of both her class of 12 and of the last 200 to graduate. She made the Naval Air Station’s prestigious Commodore’s List, received the Academic Achievement Award, was the top graduate in her class, and went on to make history as the Marine Corps’ first African American female pilot.
After flight school, Vernice was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton near San Diego, CA, piloting the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. While there she was Camp Pendleton's “Female Athlete of the Year” and two-time titleholder in their “Strongest Warrior” Competition.
Deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Vernice was recognized by the Department of Defense as America’s first African American female combat pilot. Vernice flew above the deserts of Iraq in her missile-equipped attack helicopter, engaging the enemy and scouting the roads from her cockpit, making sure they were safe for her fellow Marines and soldiers on the ground.
Upon leaving the military after the completion of two tours in Iraq, Vernice launched VAI Consulting and Training, LLC. She now resides in Atlanta, GA with her daughter Noah...her gutsiest move yet.
ONE MISSION – ONE GOAL – ONE TEAM
Gutsy Leaders create Gutsy Teams that make Gutsy Moves. They’re proactive – not reactive; and create the future by summoning the courage to adapt and align. Drawing on her trailblazing career as a U.S. Marine combat helicopter pilot, Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour unloads valuable lessons learned under the most stressful of circumstances – about leadership, teamwork, resilience, communication, execution, and building a culture of unshakable trust. FlyGirl’s storytelling lights up people’s imaginations – showing them new ways to achieve more than they ever thought possible.
- How to build trust: get everyone to step up, engage, and collaborate
- Get personal: learn each person's skills, talents & hidden passions
- Ways to unleash your diversity to strengthen the bottom line
- Disrupt traditional metrics of success (measure more than money)
- Learn when to plant and when to pivot in order to adapt-at-speed
- Create a culture that attracts and retains the best talent
GET GUTSY – HARNESS A BREAKTHROUGH MINDSET
How you react to personal and professional obstacles, adversity, and disappointment is a choice. It also determines your future. Black, female, gay, and a child of divorce, Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour learned this early in her pioneering journey from motorcycle cop to the Marines to becoming America’s first Black female combat pilot. FlyGirl’s energy rocks the house as she recounts for audiences her challenges, adventures, and ultimate triumph. Her authenticity, enthusiasm, and positivity inspire people to Get Gutsy and finally reimagine what’s possible.
- 7 step process to shatter limiting beliefs and unleash breakthroughs
- Replace a self-defeating "Zero Mentality" with a winning "Breakthrough Mentality"
- How to avoid burnout and keep moving forward
- Delay is not Denial, and to Retreat does not mean Defeat
- Tactics to ignite your passion and design the path to your dreams
WHO NEEDS A RUNWAY? TAKE OFF FROM WHERE YOU ARE
Helicopter pilots spring into action from where they are. They don’t need a runway. It’s their edge in battle. Marine chopper pilot Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour believes this metaphor is perfect for uncertain times where speed and agility are survival skills. FlyGirl fires up audiences with her energy and storytelling – relating hard-learned lessons with tactics for quickly adapting to the forces of change. This presentation is perfect for audiences navigating uncertainty or looking to accomplish audacious goals. FlyGirl will spark their courage and enthusiasm.
- Recognize and take decisive action to capitalize on defining moments
- No situation is ever perfect – gain momentum from where you are
- The three-step plan: Decide, Commit, and Execute…at speed
- Recognize and harness the talents of everyone around you
- How to create a “Zero to Breakthrough” culture
A NEW CONVERSATION: ACTIVELY TRANSFORMING A COMPANY, CULTURE, AND COUNTRY
It’s time! This is about coming together – working to create an equitable culture for employees, stakeholders, and customers. A place where ALL can feel like they belong and are part of the team. It starts by establishing rules of engagement for civil, productive conversations that find solutions – not fault. Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour was a diversity officer for U.S. Marine Corps HQ; its liaison to the Pentagon. As a gay Black woman, she brought valuable personal experience to her work. She learned: When you bring people together, their differences can result in tension…THIS IS NORMAL! How you MANAGE that diversity is the key!
- Create a culture that values and respects all team members
- Why it’s time to turn THE Conversation into a NEW Conversation
- Ways to face uncomfortable issues without playing ostrich
- How to prevent a counter-productive herd mentality
- Set an example of civility and motivate people to respond in kind