March is Women’s History Month, and all month long, KX News is celebrating local women who are improving their community, one day, and one idea at a time. Many people know “Gigi” Wilz as the first female North Dakota Army National Guard General.
Our Malique Rankin shows us that although her story began in North Dakota, her impact goes much further than the state’s borders.
Major General Giselle Wilz has paved the way for women in the military. She became the first female North Dakota Army National Guard General, then later became the first female commander within the NATO alliance.
“You live this life, and you look back, those 30 years before I made general officer and two things come to mind. First, an incredible thank you to those who came first, that broke down some of those barriers,” says Wilz. “Because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to achieve this. And the second thing that comes is, ok, I broke this barrier for those that follow. So how can I set it up so that they achieve more than me.”
Wilz says now her moments of success come in seeing others succeed.
“Anytime you can help guide them, steer them, mentor them, and watch them grow, those are awe-inspiring moments for me. Believing maybe I had a little something to do with that,” says Wilz.
She lives full-time in Washington D.C. Wilz works on global issues and international policy with the National Guard Bureau. She says her accomplishments are -in part- thanks to where her story began.
“I absolutely know where my roots are. And they are in the state of North Dakota. And I absolutely think, growing up in this environment, taking the opportunities I got in North Dakota, really are why I’ve been able to be successful,” says Wilz.
Wilz looks back at the molds she’s broken and knows the fight isn’t over yet.
“Today, women in the military don’t have to fight so hard for those opportunities. Now there are still challenges, don’t get me wrong, we’re not there yet,” says Wilz.
Major General Gigi Wilz is a trailblazer. She continues to work every day, to make the next woman’s journey that much easier.
When we asked Wilz what’s next for her, she said she wasn’t sure right now. But she did say she doesn’t think she could ever leave the business of service to country.