NEW YORK (WWTI) — Clifton Park resident Brigadier General Denise Donnell will become the first female officer to head the New York Air National Guard.

The announcement was made by Governor Kathy Hochul on April 2 after a change of command ceremony took place. Governor Hochul said she was honored to welcome Donnell to the position.

“This is a proud day in New York to recognize the achievements and leadership skills of a woman who has risen through the ranks to serve as a model of selflessness for all New Yorkers,” Governor Hochul said. “The National Guard is made up of New York’s finest and is always there when crisis calls. I salute Brigadier General Donnell on this promotion and thank Major General LaBarge for his 39 years of service.”

Brigadier General Denise Donnell in the United States Navy from 1993 to 2002 and is a command pilot with over 4,400 hours of flying time, including 280 hours in combat. She has flown the Navy’s P-3 Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft, the Air Force’s C-5A Galaxy, LC-130 Hercules “Skibird” and the C-17 Globemaster III, and has commanded at the squadron, group, and wing levels.

As a naval aviator, Donnell served as an evaluator pilot, mission commander, and quality assurance officer assigned to Patrol Squadron 46, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. Prior to joining the New York Air National Guard, she served as operational test director assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

Donnell graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Foreign Service. She is also a graduate of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, and a Distinguished Graduate with a Master of Science degree in Government Information Leadership from the National Defense University.

Brigadier General Denise Donnell said she’s excited to fulfill her new role and highlighted the accomplishments Major General Timothy LaBarge made while in the position.

“It’s a tremendous honor to lead the 5,900 men and women of the New York Air National Guard.  From COVID to Kabul, New York Airmen serve our state and nation at home and overseas every day,” Donnell said. “Major General Timothy LaBarge has set a high standard for our Air Guard and I look forward to building on the accomplishments of the last four years.”

Major General Timothy LaBarge graduated from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. in 1983 and received his Air Force Commission from the Officer Training School in 1984. He served eight years in the active Air Force and joined the New York Air National Guard in 1991.

He also has served in a number of leadership positions, including command of the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia from 2010 to 2012 and command of the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh from 2012 to 2016. LaBarge was then promoted to Brigadier General in 2016 and promoted to Major General in 2018.

More information about the roles and the New York National Air Guard can be found on their website.