Lisa Franchetti, Alumnae Award Recipient

Alumnae Award, 2016

The Alumnae Award recognizes a woman who has brought honor to Northwestern University through outstanding professional contributions in her field and who has attained national recognition. Established in 1976, the Alumnae Award has been presented every year to an alumna who has had a significant impact in her field of endeavor. Educators, journalists, doctors, scientists, and artists are included among The Alumnae’s roster of awardees.

Rear Admiral Lisa M. Franchetti, recipient of The Alumnae of Northwestern University’s 2016 Alumnae Award, was recently assigned as chief of staff, J5, The Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. Prior to this promotion, she served as commander, Carrier Strike Group Nine, with additional duty as commander, Carrier Strike Group Fifteen, San Diego, California.

Franchetti, a Medill School of Journalism (’85), Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, and Naval Reserve Officers Training Corp graduate, is the first woman to serve as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea and one of fewer than 40 female admirals in the U.S. Navy. An expert military tactician and strategist who has commanded a guided missile destroyer and served as commodore of a destroyer squadron, she was the U.S. Navy’s representative in the Republic of Korea whose main job was to strengthen collective security efforts in the region.

“The Alumnae of Northwestern University is extremely proud to present the 2016 Alumnae Award to Rear Admiral Franchetti,” say Alumnae Award committee co-chairs, Mary Schuette and Susie Stein. “She joins a distinguished group of women from such diverse fields as business, education, journalism, music, medicine, theatre and public service. The Alumnae takes great pride in presenting this year’s award to a woman whose life of achievement has brought honor to Northwestern University.” An article in the Spring 2015 issue of Northwestern magazine notes that “Franchetti has all the self-confidence, ambition and intellect one would expect of a person who has achieved so much, say her staff, but none of the standoffish behavior sometimes seen in people at the top of their profession.”

No one in Franchetti’s family was involved in the military and the idea of a career in the Navy was not in her plans. But a chance encounter during freshman orientation week in 1981 changed her plans. “I was on my way from Patten Gym and saw a bunch of NROTC students having a cookout and playing football, and I stopped by to talk to them,” she says. “I was whisked away into their office building, talked to a lieutenant who told me how great the Navy was and, next thing I know, I’m signed up and getting my uniform and some books. Than that’s how it started.”

After graduation, Franchetti spent two years at Naval Station Great Lakes, north of Chicago, and then went to Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport, R.I., and then to her first ship, the USS Shenandoah, a destroyer tender, where she was the auxiliaries officer. The journalism major was in her early 20s when she received her initial assignment to lead 67 men, including three petty officers and one other woman, in the Shenendoah’s auxiliary engineering division.

Many sea assignments followed; shore assignments include commanding officer, Naval Reserve Center Point, Oregon; aide to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations; protocol officer for the Commander, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; 4th Battalion officer at the U.S. Naval Academy; division chief, Joint Concept Development and Experimentation, on the Joint Staff, J7; deputy director of international engagement and executive assistant to Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5) on the Navy staff; military assistant to the Secretary of the Navy; and Commander U.S. Navy Forces Korea.

Franchetti is also a graduate of the Naval War College and holds a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix. Her personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (five awards), Meritorious Service Medal (five awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards).

Rear Admiral Lisa M. Franchetti will receive her award at a ceremony to be held at 3 p.m., Friday, October 28, at the Hilton Garden Hotel, Evanston, Ill. The public is invited.

The Alumnae of Northwestern University is an all-volunteer organization of women that raises funds for a wide range of projects to benefit the University and shares the University’s academic resources with the community through its Continuing Education program. Founded in 1916, The Alumnae has given more than $7.5 million to the University in the form of grants, fellowships, scholarships, an endowed professorship, as well as providing funds for special university projects and summer internships. For more information, visit The Alumnae website: (