Cathy Lanier

Photo: Courtesy of Cathy L. Lanier

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Cathy L. Lanier
First Female Chief of the Metropolitan Police, Washington, D.C.

I'm six feet tall, I was awkward as a teenager, and I come from humble circumstances. I became a single mother and dropped out of high school, and I always worried that people would judge me. When I was about 23, I saw that the police department was giving tuition reimbursement to recruits. The minute I walked out the door of the police academy on graduation day, that was it—it changed my entire personality. I loved working with people, and I never judged them the way I feared I'd be judged.