TRAVERSE CITY — Exchanging the blood stripe for a blazer was a “rough” transition, said Angie Morgan.
“I’m my own case study,” Morgan said, referencing her switch from “The Ma’am” — her nickname as an officer in the Marine Crops — to becoming a pharmaceutical salesperson, her first job after leaving military service.
“I ache for other people just starting out after the military. It’s so intimidating,” Morgan said. “All they believe they know is war-fighting. You don’t know if you’re wearing the right clothes, acting the right way or even speaking the same language.”
Navigating life’s transitions is one of Morgan’s missions. The Williamsburg resident does that professionally - from her entrepreneurial company Lead Star - and as a volunteer for veterans, women and girls.
Leaders aren’t always born; they can be made, Morgan said. Many crow “leadership” but few know the nuts, bolts and basics of how to do it, Morgan said.
“You can be told to ‘be a leader.’ You can go to a school reputed to ‘turn out the next generation of leaders.’ You can even ‘lead people’ or manage others without knowing how,” Morgan said. “Leadership is not the job - it’s the behavior.”
Morgan, 38, grew up in Kalkaska and is the middle child of a former high school principal, Gerald Judge, and an English teacher, Marilyn Judge. Morgan graduated from University of Michigan. But she didn’t learn to lead until the Marines showed her how, she said. Her father, a former Marine, encouraged her to join.
“He knew what I was getting into,” Morgan said, referring to the fact that the Marine Corps has the smallest female population of any of the Armed Forces. Only 1,000 of the country’s 180,000 Marines are female officers. “But he thought I could take it.”