MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Feb. 25, 2016) -- Minnesota achieved another historical milestone as Brig. Gen. Sandra L. Best was promoted during a ceremony Feb. 25, becoming the first female general in the history of the Minnesota National Guard.

The official pinning ceremony took place at The Woman's Club of Minneapolis, where Best was joined by her family, friends, colleagues and many Airmen and Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard.

Several distinguished guests and elected officials, to include Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Lt. Governor Tina Smith, and Maj. Gen. Richard. C. Nash, Minnesota National Guard adjutant general, were also in attendance.

Maj. Gen. Richard. C. Nash and Gov. Mark Dayton pinned the general officer rank on Brig. Gen. Best, and the governor administered the oath of office. The rest of the formal ceremony concluded with the traditional presentation of the general officer's flag, belt and pistol, and remarks from state leadership.

"General Best has shown me and the other senior military people in Minnesota, in our state, and our federal government, that she is passionate, inspiring, intelligent, decisive, persuasive and always optimistic, which are all attributes of a visionary leader," said Nash.

Throughout her 32-year career in the military, Best has served the country and state of Minnesota in a variety of leadership roles. She joined the Minnesota Air National Guard's 133rd Airlift Wing in 1984 as a personnel specialist, and after progressing through the enlisted ranks to technical sergeant, she became a commissioned officer in 1991 through the Academy of Military Science at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Tennessee.

Best fondly reflected on her military journey through the years, sharing her memories from her very first drill weekend with the 133rd Airlift Wing, to her two recent command positions.

"I treasure my memories of my first command, 133rd Logistic Readiness Squadron, which was blessed with so many dedicated and just plain awesome Airmen culminating in recognition of the best logistics support squadron in the Air National Guard!"
In addition to her leadership, scholastic and post-graduate achievements, Best attributed her greatest accomplishment as being a voice for Airmen and working with the great men and women of the Minnesota National Guard to achieve the mission and priorities.

"The Guard has always and continues to be blessed with inspirational, courageous and intelligent leaders. The Army and Air have always and continue to be populated by selfless, determined, heroic Airmen and Soldiers who understand the vital role they play in mission accomplishment, are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve the mission and remain continually alert and ready for the call to arms. Truly the Guard's most valuable assets are its members."

Though Best is a trailblazer as the first female general officer in the state of Minnesota, she likely won't be the last, as one of the priorities of the Minnesota National Guard is diversity of the force. According to Nash, the Minnesota National Guard has increased the number of women serving in ranks from 16.2% to 18% since 2011, and that number continues to grow.

"This increase reflects the importance of promoting great, talented and qualified female candidates such as General Best. They all nurture personal and professional development, and they increase resiliency and promote retention, inclusion and diversity," said Nash. "The face of Minnesota's workers is changing, and Minnesota needs to create conditions where everyone has the opportunities and resources to shine. Governor, today General Best is our shining example of your vision."

Dayton praised the Minnesota National Guard for its commitment to excellence and commitment to talent. "General, you really are the best. You worked your way all the way up from the very beginning, 32 years, through your own excellence and through your own hard work."

Best will serve as the chief of staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard, responsible for command supervision, oversight and leadership of the 133rd Airlift Wing and 148th Fighter Wing, for all matters pertaining to manning, operations, readiness, training, and equipping these units.

"I fully recognize that as a flag officer I have been entrusted with much. I am honored and accept it as my charge to boldly, judiciously and generously execute my responsibilities in the best interest of the Minnesota National Guard, Minnesota and our Nation," said Best.