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Kim Olson

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Colonel Kim Olson, USAF (ret.), served 25 years in the United States Air Force and was part of the first generation of female military pilots. A command pilot, with over 3,700 hours of flying time, she was the first female to command an air refueling squadron in Spokane, Washington. Kim entered the Air Force in 1979 and began her flying career as a KC-135 air refueling pilot.  Colonel Kim Olson served as a flight commander, instructor pilot, and flight examiner in several jet airplanes. Kim Olson served in the Pentagon on the Joint Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Air Staff. She also deployed to several combat zones including Iraq and Saudi Arabia.


Colonel Kim Olson graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in education and earned three masters’ degrees. She also earned a fellowship at Seminar XXI Center for International Studies, MIT and the Broad Center for the Management of School System, Superintendents Academy. She was recently inducted into the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame.


After more than two decades of serving her nation, Colonel Kim Olson is committed to the education of the next generation of leaders. Kim Olson is the Chief, Human Development Officer for the Dallas Independent School District. The 12th largest school system in the country dedicated to educating college and work force ready students. In addition, she travels the country speaking and lecturing on leadership strategy, political-military insights, and educational issues.  Colonel Kim Olson is the author of Iraq and Back: Inside the War to Win the Peace.

Iraq And Back: Inside the War to Win the Peace
Kim Olson  More Info

According to the book description of Iraq and Back: Inside the War to Win the Peace, “In April 2003, soon after declaring an “end to major combat operations in Iraq,” President Bush chose retired Army General Jay Garner to rebuild the country and Garner took Colonel Kim Olson with him.  But not long after their arrival to the rubble and ruin of Baghdad, the political, military, and economic wheels ground to a halt.  Theirs became mission improbable.


In this gripping, firsthand account of her experience in Iraq, Olson weaves a dramatic story about the devastation she witnesses in this war-torn country, while also reflecting on the internal struggles she faces as a woman on the edge of emerging leadership opportunities in the military.  Her description of the reconstruction of Iraq becomes a metaphor for the challenge she faced in building a life that encompasses both family and a military career – a challenge faced by working women in every profession.


As part of the Air Force’s first generation of female jet pilots, Olson describes her experience working with women on two continents and her discoveries about the benefits of their different leadership styles.  Olson takes readers on two journeys -- one through the rubble and ruin of post-war Iraq; the other as she navigates her way through the male-dominated world of military service.  Both journeys illustrate, in breathtaking detail, the struggles and obstacles women face as they create opportunities for this generation and the next.


Whether it is on the streets of Iraq with families and soldiers or in the cockpit of a military aircraft, readers will feel the joys and sorrows of a life on the edge with Olson. They will experience the emotion and senses of a woman who, on the cusp of global, military, and political history in the making, tells an unforgettable tale about the human condition.”

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