Women’s History Month Leadership Spotlight with Col Vina “Liz” Howarth

  • Published
  • By Tamry L. McCauley
  • SBD 3

Col. Vina “Liz” Howarth, Commander, 61 MDS, Director, DHA Los Angeles Small Market, takes time to participate in a Q&A with Public Affairs for Women’s History Month 2023.

Q: How long have you served in/with the military?
Howarth: I will have 20 years of Active-Duty service in April of this year! 

Q: What influenced you to join the USAF/USSF or work for the military?
Howarth: I was 37 years old and had been successfully practicing pharmacy in the civilian sector for 13 years but felt that something was missing.  When 9/11 happened, it opened my eyes to all that serve, and I began discussing the options with my family. I have several family members that served to include an Iwo Jima veteran and his lovely wife who was a WAVE. They were the final push that I needed to take the plunge and completely change the direction of my life.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your position at LAAFB?
Howarth: Without a doubt, Squadron Command is the best job in the Air Force. You have the capability of affecting change and grow the next generation of leaders. I also love being on the West Coast and close to home (Oregon). It makes it easy for family and friends to come visit and take advantage of all that LA and SOCAL has to offer.

Q:  What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Howarth: The biggest challenges have always revolved around taking care of people and ensuring that I have the resources and expertise to help them when and how they need it. Building a network and familiarizing yourself with the helping agencies is imperative when preparing to lead at all levels. 

Q:  What advice do you have for women in the military?
Howarth: My advice is the same for all. Do the absolute best that you can in your primary job and always find mentors that grow and challenge you. Finally, ensure that you have balance in your life and have other interests outside of your military service. 

Q: Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
Howarth: My parents.  Both were wonderful people that treated each other and those around them with respect. Loved by their family and community.  My Dad was a small business owner (cabinet maker) and worked very hard every day to ensure we had the basics. My mom was amazing…an entrepreneur, artist and business owner.  She was my role model and taught me that there were no limits on what you can do if you put your mind to it. And on top of all that…they were super funny!!  My brothers and I were truly blessed!

Q. If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what advice would you give her?
Howarth: Life goes by way to fast so don’t sweat the small stuff.  Take care of those around you, give your best at your job and keep smiling! From a family perspective, don’t take your family for granted. Tell them you love them and hug them every chance you get.